Analysis of Emily Dickinson's The Bustle in a House
The Bustle in a House is a poem by Emily Dickinson about the painful loss one feels after the death of a loved one. Dickinson was quite familiar with the kind of pain expressed in her poem. Her father, mother, nephew, and three close friends, all died within an eight-year period. It is no small wonder that a common theme in Dickinson s poetry is death. She uses many literary devices, including structure, imagery, figurative language, sound devices, and capitalization; to convey the hurt one experiences when a loved one passes on.
The structure of The Bustle in a House is very interesting. It is a short poem, only two stanzas long. Both stanzas are made up of a single sentence. With the exception of a lone dash at the end of the first stanza, and the period that ends the sentence, there is no punctuation. All of these factors add up to make the poem have a very brisk pace. The pace makes it seem that after death, one is supposed to just pick up and go on as usual.
Dickinson also uses imagery to add to the theme. In the first line of the first stanza, she writes, The Bustle in a House/The Morning after Death. One usually thinks of the morning as a quiet time, especially when someone has died. But the word bustle gives a sense of loud noise and busyness. In the second stanza, the survivors are found .... Sweeping up the Heart/And putting Love away. One can almost picture relatives and friends cleaning up after their hearts and folding their love up like menial objects.
Figurative language plays a key role in the poem, as well. The best example is The Morning after Death, which sounds a lot like mourning after death. In fact, mourning could even replace morning and the poem would still make sense. Another example occurs in the second stanza, when Dickinson uses the words ...