Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson are two Modern American Poets who consistently wrote about the theme of death. While there are some comparisons between the two poets, when it comes to death as a theme, their writing styles were quite different. Robert Frosts poem, Home Burial, and Emily Dickinsons poems, I felt a Funeral in my Brain, and I died for Beauty, are three poems concerning death. While the theme is constant there are differences as well as similarities between the poets and their poems.
The obvious comparison between the three poems is the theme of death. Both poets, in these works and many others, display a fascination with the death of themselves as well as the death of peers, and loved ones. Both Frost and Dickinson experienced a great deal of death throughout each of their lives. Frosts greatest loss was the death of his son, which is greatly depicted in his poem Home Burial. Dickinson suffered the loss of many friends and family. She spent a lot of her time in her room looking out upon the headstones of these people.
The only strong comparison between the poets, in terms of structure and technique, is that the meaning of their poems run much deeper then the specific words on a page. Even this can come as a contrast when looking at these three poems. Home Burial, by Frost is a fairly straightforward poem, written in dialogue, with the writer working as the narrator. The poem is about a married couple dealing with the recent death of their son, who the husband had to bury in their own backyard. It is a considerably long poem, which doesnt require one to read between the lines. Where as I felt a Funeral in my Brain, and I died for Beauty, by Dickinson are considerably short poems, in which she seals as much as she reveals.
Emily Dickinsons poetry was not that of any traditional style. She was criticized for capitalizing words in the middle of sentences, using inexact rhymes and only giving a partial understanding. She loved to use ellipses, in order to let the reader finish a thought. Many of these were actually eliminated in many of her first publications, which were never published until after her death. In the two poems, I felt a Funeral in my Brain, and I died for Beauty all of these characteristics are present, including her usual four line stanzas in the meter of traditional hymns. Written in first person, I felt a Funeral in my Brain is about the thought of her own funeral. Imagining what is would be like in the coffin, where only the sense of sound is present. The last word of the poem is then-, a classic example of an ellipse, where the reader is left to finish the poem on their own. I died for Beauty also ends with an ellipse. The poem is about two dead people, herself and another man, resting side by side, buried underground. Like Home Burial, by Frost, this was written in dialogue with the writer as the narrator. One died for Beauty and one for truth. Although it seemed as though they died for an important cause, with time their names will be forgotten.
Unlike Dickinson, Robert Frost wrote in a traditional style. Home Burial, like many of his poems, was written in iambic pentameter, giving five beats per line. Using iambic pentameter gives the poem a monotone, rhythmic feel. Because the poem reads very rhythmically, the seriousness of the poem is exaggerated. This dramatically differs from the two poems by Dickinson. Emily Dickinsons poems, though just as serious, come across quite a bit lighter then Home Burial. The structure of her poems gives a riddle-like effect. The difference in length between the poems changes the mood as well. In Frosts poem the thought of death is drawn out simply by the length of the poem, where as the abruptness of Dickinsons poems give a much lighter feel.
Another difference between Robert Frost and Emily Dickinsons poems is the perspective taken by the poet. In Home Burial there is mourning over the loss of a son. The poem is about dealing with another persons death. In I felt a Funeral in my Brain, and I died for Beauty, the poems deals with the inevitability of ones own death. Both poems are imagining what it will be like when she dies.
In the poem Home Burial, by Robert Frost, and in the poems I felt a Funeral in my Brain, and I died for Beauty, by Emily Dickinson, there are similarities and differences between the two poets perspectives and writing styles. Because there is a difference in perspective and in writing styles, each of the poems gives a different feeling about death to the reader. While the theme of death is consistent in both, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinsons poems, the differences heavily outweigh the similarities.