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Tone in After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes

Tone Examples in After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes:

Text of the Poem

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"First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—..."   (Text of the Poem)

The dashes slow the reader down, so that each word or phrase receives maximum emphasis. The slow-down effect is deliberate and capitalizes on the “Hour of Lead” and the loss of mental faculties. The initial word, “First,” is neutral while the second word, “Chill,” brings in the more negative connotations of a body slowing down and losing function. This “Freezing” process is compounded by the next two words, “then Stupor,” which extends the process from the physical to the mental, or a shift from the body to the feelings. The mind becomes passive and lacks control. However, at the end, the mind performs an active function: it lets go, suggesting a final loss of consciousness, a surrender to forces greater than the self.

"Remembered, if outlived,..."   (Text of the Poem)

The idea of death was introduced in the first stanza with “Tombs.” Death again appears here. The speaker contrasts the intensity of the “great pain” with the debilitating weariness of “the Hour of Lead.” She then follows this with the condition, “Remembered, if outlived,” which suggests that she can remember the “Hour of Lead” if she survives it, and even then, she will only remember it as a loss of consciousness, as an acceptance of mental death.

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