Poetry Blog

The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—

The Brain is deeper than the sea—
For—hold them—Blue to Blue—
The one the other will absorb—
As Sponges—Buckets—do—

The Brain is just the weight of God—
For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—
And they will differ—if they do—
As Syllable from Sound—

by Emily Dickinson

This is an interesting poem because it compares a physically small object (the brain) to vast, huge spaces such as the sky and ocean as well as a theoretically large figure (God). The beginning of the poem sets up the first comparison between the brain and the sky. Dickinson claims that the brain is wider than the sky, yet follows up with “For-put them side by side- The one the other will contain…”. Obviously the sky contains the brain, because the sky is the larger space in which the brain exists. However, figuratively speaking the brain is wider than the sky because it has the ability to learn and access all the information under the sun. Although our brains do not expand very much physically speaking throughout our lifetimes, they are constantly growing in the sense that we learn more and more each day. Then Dickinson goes on to say that “the brain is deeper than the sea“. Clearly the sea reaches thousands of feet deep at some parts, yet Dickinson believes that the brain’s capacity for learning overcomes this physical inequality. When she says “For-hold them-Blue to Blue- The one the other will abosorb- As Sponges-Buckets-do-”, she compares the brain to the sponge and the ocean to the bucket. Anyone would argue that a sponge is smaller than a bucket, but the bucket does not have the same ability as the sponge. A brain inside the ocean would allow the human to explore the environment and learn about the surroundings. This intake of information is quite similar to the way a sponge reacts when immersed in a bucket of water and squeezed. Walker Percy would approve of such an excursion, which is very similar to his story of the dogfish and other authentic experiences. (Ways of Reading 9th Edition.) The last stanza proved to be the most difficult to analyze. However, after much speculation, the meaning is clear. Dickinson states that the brain will differ from the weight of God only in the way that syllable differs from sound. In order to understand this, one must look into the difference between the two comparisons. A syllable is very much like a unit of speech, or a single sound used to form a word. Whereas sound, on the other hand, is more of an uncontrolled source of noise. Therefore a syllable is more characteristic of a human while sound is more abstract, universal, and possibly even divine. This puts the comparison in a much less complex perspective in relation to the rest of the poem. Dickinson is trying to say that just like with the sky and the ocean, the brain can gain information from God and utilize it in the same way that humans use sound to form syllables.

Comments on: "An Analysis of a Work of Emily Dickinson" (4)

  1. Anonymous said:

    This is horrid

  2. Lindsey said:

    I would like to use this as a citation for my class, what is the authors name

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