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Analysis of Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers - Coursework on Literature

4 pages
1055 words
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Course work
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Part A: Analysis of Safe in the Alabaster Chambers

Poetry touches on almost all facets of life in the society in a subtler yet convincing way. Through their brevity, poets use carefully selected diction and other elements of literature to address some issues in the society. The issues range from religion and culture among other societal issues. There are different poets who have graced the literary scene, but none has been able to capture the mood of the audience as far as religious poetry is concerned as Emily Dickinson. In her poem Safe in Their Alabaster, Dickinson makes use of carefully crafted diction, imagery and sound devices to convey her message to the audience. Her use of word choice, imagery, figurative language and sound devices help make her poem unique.

Dickinson in her poem Safe in Their Alabaster focuses on the central theme of religion. She delves into the subject of religion by pointing at the resurrection of the lives of humble Christians on the day of judgment. Despite her upbringing as a staunch purist, her poem conveys a controversial message that depicts the resurrection of all human beings from the dead on the day of judgment. It is a poem that is full of imagery, carefully-crafted diction and a conspicuous rhyme scheme that helps her pass her message to her audience.

The poem is unique in its use of sounds and rhyme scheme to convey Dickinsons message. For instance, in each stanza, there is an inversion of words used thus heightening and amplifying the poetic effect. A good example is in the lines safe in their alabaster chambers/ sleep the meek members instead of using the words the meek members sleep in their alabaster chambers (Baym et al. line 4). Other lines where this is in line 5,6,7 and 9 of the poem. Also, the poetic effect is heightened by the use of rhyme scheme in the poem. There is a conspicuous end rhyme in the poem known as consonance used in lines 2 and 4 of each stanza. All these create a poetic sound that makes the poem captivating and able to capture the general mood of the readers.

Dickinsons choice of words is also unique. She uses short clauses and words that require defining for one to have a grasp of her controversial religious theme in the poem. Short clauses such as safe in their alabaster chambers brings into effect the imagery of death (Baym et al. line 1). Rather than mention death in a directly, Dickinson opts to subtlety let her audience think and conceptualize death as an eternal sleep. Instead of using the common word casket, she uses alabaster chambers to convey her message. The short clauses continue in the second and third stanzas where the imagery of the dead as being safe and oblivious of the happenings in the world is brought into effect. The dead Christians, figuratively depicted as members of the resurrection are unperturbed by nothing as can be seen in the lines untouched by Morning and untouched by noon. They are depicted as sleeping and meek.

Besides, Dickinsons poem is unique in its use of a contemplative tone in its depiction of the truth about human nature. For instance, in her last stanza, readers of the poem Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers one can grasp the philosophical message about the reality of life. By stating diadems drop and doges surrender (Baym et al. line 10-11), one realizes that even though human beings might gain power and titles, when death strikes, everything they have accumulated becomes immaterial. They will be judged by their deeds on earth and not based on their wealth. This is the reason she states that after death, human beings become soundless as dots on a disk of snow.

In conclusion, the choice of words, rhyme scheme, imagery, and tone makes her poem unique. It also helps her convey her religious message on human resurrection during judgment day to her audience.

Part B: Symbolism in Safe in Their Alabaster

After a careful analysis of the video, there are several insights that one gain about poetry and its interpretation. The analysis and interpretation of a poem are dependent on the interpretation and the decoding of the imagery used by the poet (CrashCourse n.p). The use of imagery gives poets the poetic license to use words that help readers conceptualize mental images that aid in grasping of the message conveyed. The poem Safe in Their Alabaster craftily uses imagery as an insight to readers to help them see the religious and death themes from Dickinsons perspective.

Understanding Dickinsons poem Safe in Their Alabaster requires one to have a grasp of the imagery depicted in the poem. For instance, the first stanza describes people as sleeping safely in alabaster chambers. They are depicted as meek members of the resurrection (Baym et al. line 4). Any reader will have a conceptual image of Christians after reading the stanza. The line alludes to the verse in the gospel of Mathew which states that blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. It is only through understanding the imagery created by the words used by the poet. The second stanza extends the imagery by bringing the aspect of how time elapses as Christians await the resurrection date. The crescent is mentioned about the heavens where God bodes. The imagery of how time elapses is also depicted in the mention of how diadems drop and doges surrender (Baym et al. line 10-11). The image conceptualized in this case is the immaterial nature of how everything that human beings accumulate while on earth matters less.

In its evident from the poem that imagery plays a crucial role as an insight into understanding Dickinsons religious message about death and what awaits Christians after death. Also, it helps her to pass her message more subtly and let readers conceptualize her message through the mental images created by the words used in the poem.


Works Cited

Baym, Nina, and Robert S. Levine, eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Eighth International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company, 2011. Retrieved from!/4

CrashCourse. 24 January 2013. Retrieved from HYPERLINK ""


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