This week for class we had to read The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway and four different poems by Emily Dickinson. I first read the short story followed by the poems. After doing so I was amazed to see that all of the poems in their own individual ways somehow seemed to connect to this particular short story.
The first poem by Emily Dickinson was Tell all the Truth but tell it Slant. What I took away from this poem was that as long as the basic element and form of the truth is present it’s okay if the story going along with it is a little twisted, or even omitted. In the end of The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber this is exactly the route of telling the truth that is taken. In the end of this story Mrs. Macomber kills her husband. While they cannot hide the fact that he is dead, they can certainly not tell the truth about the part of how it happened. These are their exact plans as we find out that it was planned for her to kill him since Wilson asks “Why she didn’t just poison him.” Now they just have to tweak the story a little bit of how it happened, although of course it looks like the charging bull could have in fact killed him which helps their case.
The second poem was Success is Counted Sweetest. This poem describes how success is so much more joyous to those who have experienced utter failure. Since they know the worst there is, the success is a much better feeling for them. In relating to the short story Macomber is an extreme failure at first. On the first hunt of the lion he shows himself as a coward by dropping his gun and running away from the lion rather than facing it like a man. On the next trip though, he succeeds by killing some buffalo. Immediately after this event he is a changed man and rid of his fear. Had he not known the failure first this excitement and self confidence boost from the success probably would not have come so readily.
The next poem was I heard a Fly buzz –when I died. This poem describes the immaculate details that seem to be quite irrelevant that one may have when they are just about to die. The same thing happened when Francis Macomber died. The story in a whole mimics the form of this poem by describing incredible irrelevant details at certain times, especially when he is about to die. We are reading all these details about the shooting of the buffalo, then all of a sudden (just like the person in the poem) he is dead.
Finally the last poem was Because I could not stop for Death. In this poem Emily Dickinson describes her somewhat calm acceptance of death. This poem as well is very fitting to relate to the short story. Just as Emily Dickinson is ok with death so is Francis Macomber’s wife as she decides just to kill him after 11 years of marriage to leave him for the professional gunman instead.