Americans today are seen as selfish people who will do anything to make their life better and more successful. I will even go as far to say that human beings, as a whole, are considered in my opinion to be a selfish race. In our readings this week we see the comparison of what makes people successful and what they are willing to do to get the title. We also see this idea our life, which we have made so great, come to an end.
In the poem Success is Counted Sweetest we see the popular idea of success being proven wrong. In the first stanza it states that the ones who are not glorified are the real war heroes, and are the ones who succeed. War today is seen as a competition of who can be the best and strongest and gain the most hero bling as possible. Emily Dickinson is opening our eyes to what war should be about and who should get the most glory. We should remember that war is about standing up for your country and about giving all you can. In the second stanza she calls out the survivors of war who are seen as heroes and who gets the glory and ability to take down the flag. They may have the most metals on their wall, but they miss the success Emily is pointing out. In the end she tells that the ones who go through the hells of war and die are the ones who should be honored most and they are the ones who are the most successful, in that they gave their life. It has a positive tone and has a rhyme scheme which rhymes every other line. This leaves the reader with a sense of respect for these people.
I heard a Fly buzz- when I died, is a poem which is set in the format of a iambic pentameter. This makes the reading go along smoothly and have a nice mellow feel to it. The reader states in the first line that the last thing she heard before she died was a fly buzz; not a magical song or any other insect, but an everyday, ordinary fly. This, I believe, is not a random choice of bug, but an appropriate one in that she is pointing out the idea that when you die your possessions and luxury things are of no worth, and they will not be with you to help or hold your hand in during your last breathes. It is a somber idea when it is put that flatly, but it’s also a true one. With the iambic pentameter and soft diction and tone Emily makes it easy for the reader to accept the idea that, in the end you cannot pick your surroundings, death with find you and take you wherever you are.
My favorite reading this week would have to be, Because I could not stop for Death. It has a lot of clever personifications. By personifying death to be this kind, patient person makes the speaker, and in hand the reader, more open to the idea and accepting of the idea of death. By masking the casket and a grave in metaphors to be a carriage and a house, the reader thinks that the speaker is just taking a nice stroll through the town passing the surroundings and admiring houses. Death is accepted here, it is clearly shown through repetition which shows the gradual path of acceptance.
We are brought back to the idea of success in Emily Dickinson’s poem, Tell all the Truth but tell is slant. We are told that success is made when it is gradual. Just as truth should be taken and told with a grain of salt and let out in bits and pieces, we should take this advice and live it through gaining success. There is a happy feel to this poem, but also a hidden tone of caution. The detail about being blinded is there to protect and warn us about what may happen if the advice is not headed.
The sarcastic humor of the title, The Short Happy life of Francis Macomber, is not fully appreciated until you read it through. This story puts the reader in the minds of each of the characters. They are each personified in their own way and have their own ideas about life and success. This story tells of a man who goes his whole life trying to be seen as this successful happy man, but in reality he is filled with a disconnecting relationship with his wife and a life of fear. He wants to succeed in killing a lion; he wants to be seen as brave. The majority of this story is dedicated in characterizing this man as a scared coward, but then right at the end we see a change in his being, where he gains the confidence to make a happy life. It’s sad that people live most their lives trying to be someone they are not and trying to settle for their unhappy lives. Some may come to a realization, but it’s usually too late, just like poor Francis. This story does what all the poems do, in that its makes the reader realize that success is not found in material things it’s found in happiness and that we should learn to accept things and live our life to our own standards not other peoples.