This Tuesday’s readings consisted of four poems by Emily Dickinson and a short story by Ernest Hemingway. Dickenson’s poems “Tell All the Truth but tell it slant-“, “Success is counted sweetest”, “I heard a fly buzz-when I died-“, and “Because I could not stop for Death-“ all discuss death and the human interactions that go with it what it means for each person. Even though death can be a somber and somewhat depressing subject, Dickenson makes these poems discuss death in a lighter sense. Hemingway expresses the same interest in death in his short story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Hemingway talks about the finality which death brings and how the last moments in our lives can have a lot of meaning.
Hemingway’s short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” discusses the final moments in life and what they can mean to a person. In the short story, Francis’s wife Margot was unhappy with him. Francis was a coward and showed it when he encountered his first lion on a safari. He simply ran away and did not confront it. Margot resented her husband for this because she saw it as his biggest weakness. This bitterness toward her husband caused her to have an affair with their safari guide. In the end Francis ends up dying by the hands of his wife but it happens in an unusual way. Margot tries to kill a Buffalo which is in a standoff with Francis. Francis at this point was overcoming his fears and changing himself. He was facing an animal which could have killed him and he was not afraid. This was the most courageous thing he had ever done and at this point he dies. The finality of this moment really sunk into me when I tried to imagine the aftereffects. The “what if” question circles my mind after reading this short story. Suppose Francis lived; the readers are left to wonder what he could have done with the rest of his life.
In “To Tell All the Truth but tell it slant-”, Dickenson talks about how one must tell the truth but not overwhelm. Sometimes the truth can hurt and that is why it must be told with ease and “slant.” People who tell bold truths may blind the world because the world sometimes is not ready. As Dickinson states, “The Truth must dazzle gradually.” This is for the protection of ourselves and others. The finality of death is like a bold truth. Sometimes death must come to us gradually because if and when it comes unexpectedly, we might not be ready for it.
In “Success is counted sweetest,” the meaning of death is again laid out by Dickinson. She tells us that success is seen as the greatest part of life if you die on your way to gain it. If someone dies for a good cause, then for them, the success of the cause is felt more than anyone else. Dickinson is explaining that death can sometimes be a means to an end. Some people must die in order to other to succeed. But in this success, the victory is felt the most, not by those who live, but by those who died fighting for their cause.
In “I heard a fly buzz-when I died-”, Dickinson again discusses her ideas about death. This time she talks about final moments and how they might appear to a person. In her poem she talks about how focused a person is in their final moments. They take in everything in the room, even they fly buzzing. It’s as if they know it’s the last moment before they die, and they make sure to see, touch taste, feel and smell everything they possibly can before leaving this world. The seconds of calmness in a storm is how she describes death. It is in these final moments which people try to make the most of their life, and rush to finish things even though in reality, death greets them whether they are ready to go or not.
In Dickinson’s last poem “Because I could not stop for Death-” takes her idea of death and personifies it. She describes death as a person who kindly stops and picks the speaker up. She does not realize it is her time to go and does not think that this person who is picking her up is taking her to her death but that is how death goes; sometimes you are ready for it and sometimes it surprises you.