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Month: February 2017

Emily Dickinson 764 [754]

In poem 764 [754] Dickinson explores the powerful, yet self-destructive nature of her intense anger. In the first line, denoted by her famous dashes, she refers to her capitalized Life as a loaded gun. In the fourth line, she capitalizes ‘Me’ and merges herself and her life into the metaphor of the unused gun. However, a third player has also entered the scene who is referred to as ‘The Owner,” “Him,” and her “Master.” These terms refer to her all consuming anger that controls her actions. Again, we see another merge as she refers to a “We” who is ‘roaming the Sovereign Woods-“ and hunting the Doe. These violent actions are illustrated by the echo or “reply” from the mountains every time she “speaks for Him” and expresses her anger, perhaps metaphorically through the firing of the loaded gun she represents. Two other elements also refer to the self-destructive nature of her anger, the Vesuvian face and the Eider Duck. The reference to mount Vesuvius literally describes the eruption of an Italian volcano, which was a deadly event that also destroyed the majority of the mountain itself. Additionally, an Eider Duck is a specific breed of duck that creates a downy pillow by plucking it’s own feathers. Of course, the pillow she refers to is where she guards the head of her “Master.” This relationship between her and her anger shows a particularly protective nature, and almost a pride her in lethal violence keeping her and her anger’s enemies from “stirring a second time.” However, in the final stanza the self-destructive nature is realized through her acknowledgment of mortality and weakness without her anger. She finds in her anger a violent invincibility, but therefor also recognizes that despite her ability to live longer than her anger on her own, her anger will most likely destroy her and therefor outlive her.

Riis Photography

Riis’s photography in the late 1800’s walks us through the grueling, arduous life of immigrants in the slums of New York City. Some of the most appalling photos show the living conditions, of dangerous infrastructure or barren shacks. The walls were quite literally falling down in some photos. Additionally beds and rooming were documented, however the beds were just wooden boards with rope or cloth tied together providing a surface on which to sleep at the most minimal expense. I found the children photographed to be quite moving, whether on the single slide available for them to play on which was hardly a slide to begin with, or the children sitting with their father who worked in the coal industry. However, the picture provided was interesting to me in how the caption spoke about the story of the image. These boys falling asleep in class were not simply bored, but they were in night class presumably due to their work in the sweat shops that were also pictured. Not only were they working long, strenuous days but additionally attending classes at night in order to perhaps one day have the education to earn a more dignified living or provide a better opportunity for their family in the future.

 


Riis, Jacob. How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York.
1890. American Studies, U of Virginia, xroads.virginia.edu/~ma01/davis/
photography/images/riisphotos/slideshow1.html. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017.