“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway, and Emily Dickinson’s “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 describe stories pertaining to life’s customary instances and emotions, depicting deeper image of it. These stories have an educational feel as they allow the reader to think differently. The contents of the poems make you think more in depth to these common situations in life.
Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” tells a story of a wealthy man and beautiful wife who go on an African safari. For the majority of the story, Francis is still young and cowardly in nature. This is something that his wife, Margot strongly dislikes and uses against him. By the end of the tale, Francis is changing for the better and exuberates a newfound courage consisting of no fear. “You know something did happen to me, I feel absolutely different” (502). Margot hates this and feels like she is losing psychological control over her husband. Because of this she shoots her husband, who is truly happy for the first time in his life. This made me realize that a man who seemed to “have it all” and live the celebrity lifestyle really did not have anything at all until the last moments of his life. How many people of his stature in our society feel the same deep inside?
Emily Dickinson’s “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” is a poem that conveys just what the title reads. I interpreted it as the truth is staring us in the face, but we cannot always see it, nor should we be able to. The truth is told or revealed in gradual moderation, possibly for our own benefit. I never had this thought written out for me but from personal experience I would say this is definitely true. This poem made me look back and think how it would have been a lot more comfortable for me to progressively face reality rather than have it laid on me all at once. Having the latter happen can be an immediate shocker to say the least.
“Success is Counted Sweetest” teaches you that those who never or rarely succeed place the highest value on success. In the last two stanzas, Dickinson gave her readers the mental illustration of a dying soldier overhearing the triumph of the opposing army. “Not one of all the purple Host who took the Flag today can tell the definition so clear of Victory” (Lines 5-8). She is telling us that the dying man understands victory more clearly than the conquering army, as he has experienced failure. He will never experience that success, so no positive experiences can lessen the value put on victory in his mind. If we never experience both sides of the spectrum, we will never truly understand how success or let down feels like.
The fly in “I heard a Fly buzz when I died” was the figure of death in the poem. I found it interesting that a small little fly, a creature that no one ever cares for, is made to be the symbol of death, something so strong. “With Blue, uncertain stumbling Buzz, between the light and me, and then the Windows failed, and then I could not see to see” (Lines 14-17). The fly cut the speaker off from the light until she could not see anymore. This goes to show that even in situations like this, with all of our family around and your life (supposedly) flashing before your eyes, something so irrelevant can be focused on. We as people tend to concentrate too much on the insignificant aspects of life.
“Because I could not stop for Death” was actually my personal favorite from the readings for today. In this poem, Dickinson calmly accepts death. Stanza one shows death arriving in a carriage with stanza two presenting the carriage pushing slowing along the road. (Implying a slow death) The narrator reviews her life in the third stanza, looking back at her childhood, maturity and finally her decent into old age and eventual death. People are so scared to die, admittedly even myself. The message is not to fear death, as it is natural. It leads to a new beginning, as evidenced by the gown the narrator wore.
These readings for today each dealt with feelings and events that we will all experience in our lifetime. While they all have different views and common beliefs, Ernest Hemingway and Emily Dickinson wanted their audience to think about these standard emotions and procedures in an extreme or completely different sense. In my case they successfully did that. The poems that I read for today have to be my favorite thus far.