Dickinson Pain Has An Element Of Blank again

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Dickinson Pain Has An Element Of Blank again Powered By Docstoc

Although cryptic in language and structure, Dickinson gives her work an instinctually
vivid sense of emotion. Her examination of the feeling of pain focuses in on only a few of
the subtler nuances of pain that are integral parts of the experience. She draws in on an
"Element of Blank" that she introduces in her opening line. In exploring pain, she
proposes that this "blankness" is a self-propagating force that is subject to the dynamic
forces of time, history and perception, but only to an extent. Her first mention of "Pain"
in the first line does not distinguish this particular emotion as being of a particular brand
of pain. She substitutes no other words for "pain." By suggesting no other words for
"pain," she chooses the most semantically encompassing term for the emotion. She thus
gives her work the responsibility of examining the collective, general breadth of "pain."
Her alternatives offer connotations that color her usage of "Pain": the sense of loss in
"grief" and "mourning" or the sense of pity in "anguish" and "suffering." She chooses the
lexical vagueness of "Pain" to embrace all these facets of the emotion. In introducing the
"Element of Blank," it becomes the context that she thus examines pain. The exact
context of "Blank" possesses a vagueness that suggests its own inadequacy of solid
definition. Perhaps this sense of indefinition is the impression that this usage of "Blank"
is meant to inspire. In this context, this "blankness" is suggestive of a quality of empty
unknowingness that is supported by the next few lines: "It cannot recollect When it
begun." This inability to remember raises a major problem with respect to the nature of
"Pain;" namely whether Dickinson is choosing to personify "Pain" by giving it a human
quality like memory, or is in fact negating the humanity of making it unable to remember.
Several lines below, she suggests that "Pain" does in fact possess some sort of limited
sentient ability in recognizing "Its Past — enlightened to perceive." It is very possible
that it is the "Pain" that is being enlightened or perceiving. These conscious acts of giving
"Pain" some sort of capacity of awareness personify "Pain" to some extent. In
continuation of "Pain’s" inability to remember, She proceeds, "It cannot recollect When it
begun — or if there were A time when it was not." "Pain’s" inability to recollect further
personifies it by also making it subject to the human ability to forget. Dickinson thus not
only personifies "Pain," but makes it subject to the advance of time. This temporal
placement of "Pain", establishes "Pain" within the context of the progression of time by
giving it a Past, a Future, and presumably, a Present. Although she places "Pain" within
the context of time, she indicates it is not limited by time. "Pain’s" inability to remember
its own origins strongly suggests an extreme span of time since its inception. This
coupled with Dickinson’s claim that "It has no Future — but itself," and that "Its Infinite
contain Its Past" indicates some connection with the eternal. Here, the "Infinite" suggests
not only the infinite sense of eternity, but a more spatial sense of the cosmos and the
universality of the experience of "Pain." This use of the future also serves the notion that
"Pain" leads to more "Pain," continuing in Dickinson’s reference to "Its Past —
enlightened to perceive New Periods — of Pain." In this one stanza, she invokes the
future and the past, maintaining that both are key to a cyclicality, where the "Pain" of the
past, gives rise to the "Pain" of the present and future. That "Pain" contains an "Infinite"
within itself supports this notion of "Pain" being cyclical, as it can thus remain dynamic
yet eternal. That it is "enlightened to perceive New Periods" of the sensation of "Pain"
suggests that a mechanism of this self-propagation involves the acknowledgement of past
periods of "Pain." The "enlightenment" thus becomes some sort of impetus for the
propagation of the "Pain" experience as it continues from the past into the future. To
highlight this sense of cyclicality, Dickinson completes the poem with the first word:
"Pain." She completes the cycle of her poem in its reiteration, giving it closure, but at the
same time, reconnecting it back to its beginning. In doing so, she almost invites the
reader to reread the poem, drawing the reader back in to reconsider her meaning. In much
the same way, it is this reexamination that "Its Past — enlightened" suggests.
Enlightenment comes from some degree of analysis, and is therefore related to the
reevaluation of the poem that Dickinson invites. Dickinson’s description of "Pain" as
having an "Infinite" also suggests a spatial expansiveness in addition to a temporal one.
This sense of "Pain" being limitless echoes the broad definition of "Pain" that she
suggests by only using the one term for the experience, and using it only twice. Within
the context of the poem, "Pain" is her only subject, and thus encompasses all as far as the
work is concerned. The limitlessness of "Pain’s" existence within time lends to its sense
of overwhelming size when considered "Infinite." It thus suggests an almost tangible
existence of "Pain" as a corporeal entity, spanning towards every horizon. This physical
perception of "Pain" is not quite palpable due to its lack of physical description in the
poem. All that is known about it is its outstanding size. That sense of size alone lends
some sort of semi-perceptible physical weight to the description. In her sole focus on
"Pain" within the context of the "Element of Blank," Dickinson chooses such a narrow
focus that it is difficult to claim she is putting forth a definitive, encompassing definition
of pain. Instead, she writes about a vague, undefined experience called "Pain" that she
leaves the reader to define. Note that a semantic distinction must be made between pain
and the notion of "Pain" that Dickinson chooses to use. She does not define whether her
notion of pain is emotional, spiritual or physical, or perhaps a combination of all three.
Her treatment of "Pain" as a semi-cognizant entity, infinite but somehow limited, makes
it an abstract, unique concept that necessitates its distinction as "Pain." She does describe
"Pain" within the context of the nature of its being. By denoting its infinite nature, she
also proposes a capacity to self-propagate. However, she becomes unclear in defining the
limitations of these abilities. She explains that it has existed for so long, that it has no
memory of its inception, but it is unclear whether that is the fault of "Pain’s" inability to
remember or "Pain’s" infinite history. Dickinson also indicates that "Pain" already has a
fated future, one that includes only more "Pain." Despite its infinite nature temporally
and spatially, "Pain" is not infinite in a sentient sense, as it is limited by its lack of
perception and by the passage of time. Dickinson leaves much unsaid about the
experience and nature of "Pain." She makes no tangible references about the
circumstances of her "Pain," leaving the reader to deal only with a indeterminate, abstract
notion to relate to. In only relating the "Element of Blank" to its place temporally and
spatially, her only hypothesis about the mechanism of "Pain" concerns its cyclicality. Her
sole focus on this structure avoids discussion of any other aspect of the experience or
sensation of "Pain."