Safe in their Alabaster Chambers : Analysis

Also Read

SAFE IN THEIR ALABASTER CHAMBERS


Safe in their Alabaster Chambers-
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon-
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection-
Rafter of satin,
And Roof of stone.

Light laughs the breeze
In her Castle above them-
Babbles the Bee in a solid Ear.
Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence-
Ah, what sagacity perished here !

Grand go the Years in the Crescent - above them- Worlds scoop their Arcs-
And Firmaments row
Diadems drop- and Doges - surrender
Soundless as dots on a Disc of Snow.

This opening stanza of the poem 'Safe in their Alabaster Chamber' presents a generalized picture of the dead in their graves.
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers

Explanation with Reference to Context:

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers-
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon-
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection-
Rafter of satin,
And Roof of stone.

      The poet realistically presents the location of the graveyard where the dead persons are buried. The speaker feels completely alienated from Nature in this mourning set-up and is not affected by the cyclic natural changes. The poem is an attempt to gain a new vision of life.

      This opening stanza of the poem 'Safe in their Alabaster Chamber' presents a generalized picture of the dead in their graves. The description of the hard whiteness of alabaster monuments begins the poem's stress on the insentience of the dead. They are neither affected by the morning nor the noon in their burial tombs or vaults. The dead who feel secure in their belief that they will ultimately live again, lie calm and undisturbed. They are incapable of the feeling of the softness of coffin linings or the hardness of burial stone.

Light laughs the breeze
In her Castle above them-
Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,
Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence
Ah, what sagacity perished here!

      The dead persons feel secure in the softness and whiteness of their coffins They are quite unaware of the changes that are taking place in their natural surroundings. They lie relaxed in their coffins and waiting for their ultimate resurrection from them.

      The burial ground presents a detailed view of nature in this stanza. Here, the vigour and cheerfulness of bees and birds stress the stillness and deafness of the dead. The breeze is softly blowing over graves of the dead persons. The birds are aware of death, and the former wisdom of the dead, which contrasts to ignorant nature, has perished.

Grand go the Years - in the Crescent-above them -
Worlds scoop their Arcs
And Firmaments row -
Diadems drop and Doges - surrender -
Soundless as dots on a Disc of Snow-

      The poet finds the total separation of the dead from natural happenings. The birds and bees are not aware of death in any way. The birds are in a joyful mood and are insensitive to the tragic plight of the dead persons.

      The scene is shifted to the vast surrounding universe in the end of the poem. Presently, she visualizes the planets sweeping majestically through the heavens. Time passes by in vast semi-circles, huge hemispheres, above the graves where the dead lie., The planets move in a sweeping manner across their orbits. Even the whole firmaments clash and monarchies fall and great rulers surrender. Yet, to the dead, all this noisy clash of the universe is as perceptible as dots on a snowflake. The dropping of diadems stands for the fall of kings, and the reference to Doges, the rulers of medieval Venice, adds an exotic note. This stanza adds a touch of pathos in that it implies that the dead are equally irrelevant to the world, from whose excitement and variety they are completely cut off. Resurrection has not been mentioned again, and the poem ends on a note of silent awe.

Development of Thoughts:

      In the poem 'Safe In Their Alabaster Chamber', the believers feel totally isolated from nature. Being 'safe' in their Alabaster coffins, they are impervious to the natural Cycle, untouched by 'Morning' and 'Noon'.

      The non-stop motility of nature is lightly dramatized in the second stanza; the breeze laughs, the bee babbles, the birds sing, indifferent to abstract concept of Resurrection. There is no dialogue between the believers and the earth. In death, as in life, they are entombed in their belief and severed from nature's processes It is a division that Dickinson lamented, writing of the notion of a 'stately Resurrection.

Critically Analysis:

Spritual Quest:

      Dickinson presented herself as an obstinate searcher seeking glimpses of 'other side' and demanding ultimate reality. The present poem throbs with the frustrated expectancy of one making a purposeful attack on death for the sake of gaining perspective denied within earth's horizon.

Uncertain Vision:

      Presently, Dickinson has ventured unsuccessfully upon the strange seas. She has opened herself to mysteries but has, as yet, no vision to communicate. But reference to 'the disappointed tide' suggests an oceanic force beyond circumference that will come for her again, that will demolish the sea wall built by circuit-loving persons who mistake this life for salvation and death for loss. The speaker, eager for escape from time and the circuit, looks forward keenly to her next exploratory voyage. It seems the poet voices her own eagerness for having the new vision. The universe had grown unimaginably more vast - especially in terms of time - in her lifetime, and the pattern of design had been shattered and scrambled. For Dickinson, the sense of disorientation in this new universe was palpable. Her apprehensions about the groundless disarray all around her may have influenced her choice of he Homestead's chartered limits over the wilderness outside the gates.

Role of Nature:

      Nature shows a dead man's separation from life. Those who continue to pin their hope in Resurrection remain isolated from nature. 'Safe' in their alabaster coffins, they are impervious to the natural cycle:

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers-
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by noon-
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection.

      The breeze laughs, the bee babbles, the birds sing, indifferent to abstract notion of Resurrection. There is no dialogue between the believers and the earth. In death as in life, they are entombed in their belief and alienated from nature's processes It is a division that Dickinson lamented, writing of the notion of a 'stately Resurrection'.

Annotations:

      'Chambers' - graves \ monuments. 'Untouched' - unaffected. 'Meek' - gentle passive. 'Resurrection' - revival after death. 'Rafter of satin' - softness of coffin linings. 'Roof of stone' - hardness of burial stone. 'Castle' - burial grounds. 'Babbles' - cheerfulness. 'Stolid--deaf \ insensitive. 'Pipe' - sing. 'Cadence - rhythm. 'Sagacity' - wisdom. 'Crescent' - curve of the Moon. 'Firmament' - sky. Dropping of Diadems - it refers to the fall of kings, and reference to Doges, the rulers of medieval Venice. 'Doges' - reference to the rulers of medieval Venice. 'Surrender' - to give up.

Previous Post Next Post