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Published by Max Bartges

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Published by: Max Bartges on Jul 06, 2013
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Max BartgesPoetry 3645Metaphor/Simile EssayComparisonIn Emily Dickinson’s “My Life Had Stood - - a Loaded Gun”, we are initiallygreeted by a very peculiar metaphor: her life was a loaded gun, in the openinglines. Then to finish off the stanza, the gun’s owner identified her as such, anddeparted with her. In the next stanza, she speaks of ‘the Sovereign Woods’ and‘hunting the Doe’, another metaphor continuing the theme. The third stanzamakes an allusion to a ‘Vesuvian face’, a simile and in the next another similerefers to guarding her master’s pillow as better than sharing a pillow made fromEider-Duck. Continuing to the next stanza, she writes of ‘ a Yellow Eye --/Or anemphatic Thumb’, metaphors both. The last two lines sum up the poem veryneatly: ‘For I have but the power to kill, /without --the power to die --‘, the finalmetaphor.In William Butler Yeat’s “No Second Troy”, the images are equallycomplex. The title, in fact, is a metaphor that carries through the length of thepoem. The next image involves the subject of the poem teaching the menviolence, and ‘hurling the little streets upon the great’, a metaphor. Next he asksif the courage of the men was equal to their desire, a simile. He writes of her mind, the ‘nobleness made simple as a fire’, simile, and ‘with beauty like atightened bow’, again a simile. And finally concludes with a metaphoricalquestion: ‘was there another Troy for her to burn?’These two poems are indeed very complicated, but after a close reading
and inspection, one can discern that these are both poems about love – but fromvery different viewpoints! In the Dickinson, she compares herself to a loaded gunin the past tense, meaning she is no longer that way – standing in corners, etc…She is expressing that there once was a great amount of passion that she keptbottled up inside, a great potential waiting to be unleashed, until she met her lover (the gun’s owner). When Dickinson uses the metaphors of the SovereignWoods, and the Doe, she is referring to nobility; the love they share is powerful,noble, the pinnacle. The image of Vesuvius references an explosion – anuncontrollable force. Then she shows her protective side as she protects her master’s head, as the gun, and in the next stanza where no enemy of his canescape her Yellow Eye (the flash of the fired gun), or emphatic Thumb (probablythe hammer coming down). Finally, as a summation, her last two lines show themetaphor of the piece: she has the power to kill, but not die, meaning that shehas become his weapon, his instrument, and thus can be used as he pleases,but as an object is removed from the world of mortality.The Yeats, on the other hand, takes a much different tack. Here he iswriting also of love, but of a woman he compares to Helen of Troy: capable of destruction and ‘filling his days with misery’. We do not see the selflesssubjugation of the Dickinson, but rather a very critical, jealous, and yet longingportrait of a woman. When he writes of her teaching ignorant men violence andhurling little streets upon the great, what he means is that she will lead men whodon’t know any better into an uprising to destroy the history and greatness of hishomeland, Ireland, in favor of something new and paltry by comparison. He

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