There’s a certain Slant of light. Emily Dickinson. 258.
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There's a certain Slant of light,On Winter Afternoons-That oppresses, like the haftOf Cathedral Tunes-Heavenly hurt it gives us-We can find no scar,But internal difference-Where the Meanings are-None may teach it-any-'Tis the seal, Despair-An imperial afflictionSent us of the Air-When it comes, the Landscape listens-Shadows hold their breath-When it goes, 'tis like the distanceOn the look of death-
Initially could be positive but…
Not absolutely clear what she means – is it the way light appears through the clouds or is it the impression the light gives?
There's a certain Slant of light,On Winter Afternoons-That oppresses, like the HeftOf Cathedral Tunes-
Light is often seen as uplifting in poetry…but not here.
Some versions use the word ‘heft’ – meaning weight.
Continuation of religious imagery…but Heaven is not supposed to ‘hurt’??
Maybe suggests a contrast – light can be beautiful but can also dazzle us.
Heavenly Hurt it gives us-We can find no scar,But internal difference-Where the Meanings are-
Perhaps the light is a metaphor for internal conflict?
Perhaps she is considering the different ways in which people see things?
What are ‘meanings’? Is it Dickinson’s understanding of certain feelings/issues?
Some versions have ‘anything’. Could this refer to the fact that different people suffer from different ‘despairs’ ?
It is difficult for anyone to prepare for the ‘Meanings’ as it is so difficult to define.
None may teach it-Any-'Tis the seal, Despair,-An imperial afflictionSent us of the Air-
What has created this ‘despair’? The light?
Suggests it is everywhere
Sums up the ‘light’, the ‘hurt’ and the ‘despair’.
Refers back to the ‘light’? Links the ‘outside’ (the light) with the inside (despair).
There is a real sense of silence here.
When it comes, the Landscape listens-Shadows-hold their breath-When it goes, 'tis like the distanceOn the look of Death-
There is a sense of mystery here. What will happen?
Landscape is personified – like Dickinson, it is affected by the light.
The dash at the end gives us an equal sense of emptiness – we feel the poem should continue elsewhere
When the light leaves, it leaves an emptiness as does death.