This Word is Not Conclusion : Analysis

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THIS WORLD IS NOT CONCLUSION

This World is not Conclusion
A Species stands beyond.
Invisible, as Music
But positive, as Sound-
It beckons, and it baffles-
Philosophy-don't know-
And through a Riddle, at the last-
Sagacity, must go-
To guess it, puzzles scholars-
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown-

Faith slips and laughs, and rallies-
Blushes, if any see
Plucks at a twig of Evidence
And asks a Vane, the way-
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit-
Strong Hallelujahs roll-
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul-

The poem 'This World is not Conclusion' shows the existence of life after death but it cannot be scientifically established.
This World is not Conclusion

Introduction and Development of Thought:

      Emily Dickinson dramatizes a conflict between faith in immortality and severe doubt in 'This World is not Conclusion'. The poem can be divided into two parts: the first twelve lines and the final eight lines. The first part of the poem shows that the life on earth is not the end of life. It asserts the extension of life after death on another plane of existence. The new existence like music can be intuitively felt but remains invisible to the human eye. Like music, it does exist but cannot be perceived by the mind's eye. Similarly, heaven can be intuitively felt but not observed rationally It often invites our attention but ultimately adds to our confusion. The study of philosophy cannot can not satisfactorily resolve the riddle of the existence of life after death. Any attempt to describe heaven will be an exercise in futility. All the previous or present attempts to know heaven have gone in vain and invited the contempt of people down through time. The believers preferred crucifixion instead of giving up faith in religious beliefs.

      The concluding part of the poem shows that faith in anything falters with the passage of time because of its emotional nature. It declines because it lacks any rational basis. Soon it becomes the subject of mockery and doubts. Any lapse of faith brings shame and humiliation to its followers. Since it cannot understand the proof of an after-life it can only pluck nervously at what few signs of its available existence. The doubts about after-life still persist in spite of powerful arguments advanced by the priests in its favour.

Explanation with Reference to Context:


This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond-
Invisible, as Music-
Be positive, as Sounds-
It beckons, and it baffles-
Philosophy - don't-
And through a Riddle, at the last.

      The poem 'This World is not Conclusion' shows the existence of life after death but it cannot be scientifically established. Being a matter of faith and belief, it can be intuitively realized only. This points to the controversial nature of the concept of after-life or immortality.

      Emily Dickinson argues that the life on earth is not the end of life. It is further contended that there is an existence beyond this existence and the two are interrelated. The new existence, like music, can only be intuitively felt but not observed by the spiritual searcher. Similarly, heaven can be imagined but not seen on a plane of reality. It often fascinates but finally baffles us. Moreover, the rich subject of philosophy cannot satisfactorily resolve the riddle of the existence of after-life.

Sagacity, must go-
To guess it, puzzles scholars-
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown-

      Emily Dickinson refers to the controversial nature of the subject of after-life or immortality in the poem This World is not Conclusion. She believes in the presence of another existence beyond the earthly existence. The presence of another existence beyond the physical one can not be seen but intuitively felt only.

      No wise man can clearly describe the true nature of after-life or immortality. Any attempt to analyse it rationally or scientifically will lead to further confusion and controversy. Those who tried to grapple with the problem of immortality in the past had to undergo a lot of humiliation and contempt at the hands of the scientifically-minded people. They even preferred to face crucifixion than to give up their faiths in religious matters.

Critically Analysis:

Belief in After Life:

      The poet tells us that faith in after - life lacks any conclusive evidence. Being a matter of faith and belief, it cannot be established on a rational level. Existence here on earth, Dickinson argues, is not concluded by our deaths. There is another existence beyond it which cannot be perceived by senses, though it cannot be denied. It can be intuitively felt by a man of a deep-rooted faith only. No rational faculty can establish the continuity of life after death.

Universe an Enigma:

      The poem shows that nobody can satisfactorily resolve the riddles of the world. It suggests that the solution to the mysteries of the universe can only be observed as the answer to a riddle. The universe, therefore, appears a childhood game of discovery only. We can not be sure, however, that the answer to a riddle is completely correct. It is further argued that doubt is endemic in the human race and cannot be removed by a single answer. It requires a multi-pronged approach to resolve any religious doubt. Finally, no finality can be claimed in controversial religious faiths and beliefs. No men of wisdom can offer any concrete proof pertaining to the still unresolved riddles of the universe:

Existence of Heaven:

      Existence of heaven cannot be specifically defined in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. It is purely an imaginary creation which cannot be defined on a rational plane of existence. Even the acclaimed scholars, in the end, can only describe Heaven in obscure and elliptical verbal. Heaven is like music which cannot be seen but intuitively felt only. The existence of heaven is sometimes affirmed and sometimes refuted because of its illusory nature.

Annotations:

'This world' - refers to man's existence on earth. It is related to the present incarnation.
'is not Conclusion' - is not the termination of all life.
'A Species' - it refers to a race that continues on an other plane of existence after this life.
'Invisible, as Music' - the existence of life after death is like music which cannot be observed but its presence can hardly be denied.
'Positive' - definite.
'Positive, as Sound' - music is unseen but the ear can clearly hear its sound.
'It beckons' - it attracts and invites the attention of the listener.
'It baffles' - it (music) confuses the listener.
'Philosophy don't know' - philosophers cannot explain it.
'Riddle' - puzzle.
'At the last' - finally.
'Sagacity' - wisdom or deep knowledge cannot lucidly describe heaven.
'To guess it' - Only guess work can answer this riddle.
'To gain it' - to gain access to heaven.
'Men' - committed persons.
' Borne' - tolerated.
'Contempt' - hatred of those who have no faith in life after death.
'Generations' - refer to the past ages which ridiculed men of religion who believed in the continuity of life. 'And Crucifixion, shown' - refers to the crucifixion of those who reposed their faith in life after death.
'Faith slips' - decline of faith in religious believes. 'Rallies' - points to the recovery of faith.
'Blushes' - shows shame and confusion in a mood of anger.
'If any see' - if anyone sees the faltering of faith.
'Twig' - The smallest part of the branch of a tree. 'Vane' - a weather cock which indicates the direction of all points of the compass.
'Much Gesture' - clergymen dramatic way of preaching frequently gesticulated wildly to impress the audience.
'Pulpit' - a raised platform in the church from where the preacher could be seen by the audience
'Strong' - forceful and loud.
'Hallelujahs' - exclamation of praise of God. 'Roll' - move in a wave. The sound undulates in loud waves from the church.
'Narcotics' - drugs which have a de-sensitising or numbing effect. Here, the drugs are the central formulas of religion : the sermon and the song of praise Religion was considered as the opium of the people.
'Tooth' - doubt. The image is that of a toothache where some narcotic is prescribed to ease the pain.
'Nibbles at' - to eat bit by bit at a time.

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