Toni Morrison and Emily Dickinson Poetic Description


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Toni Morrison and Emily Dickinson use poetic description to engage the reader into the moment. Poetry is a language with different elements. Some say that poetry has to have literary elements such as metaphors and similes. Others stress rhythm and rhyme as the most important part of poetry. Personally, poetry can be about anything and have no clear definition to it. Emily Dickinson’s poem “Success is Counted Sweetest” has rhythm and rhyme, metaphors and similes. In Morrison’s novel Sula, the scene where Hannah dies also has poetic elements.
In the poem “Success is Counted Sweetest” the speaker states that “those who ne’er succeed” (2) place the highest value on success they “count” it “sweetest”. In order to understand the richness of this, the speaker states one must feel “sorest need.” (4). Dickinson states that the members of the victorious army “The purple host/Who took the flag today” (5-6) are not able to label victory as well as the defeated or dying man who hears from a distance the music of the victors. People tend to desire things more intensely when they do not have them. This poem goes to show that Dickinson is pretty aware of the complicated truths of human desire. Dickinson switches roles and speaks on behalf of the dying man, who hears the victorious celebrating. To the dying man, defeat meant that he had lost everything.
This poem causes the reader to think about what success and failure are truly about. To the dying man on the field of battle, barely living would have been a priceless success. Instead, the men celebrating victory are those who won the war. Dickinson uses each verse to relate a different perspective of success and need. In the first, she introduces how those who long for something they never have achieve a greater thrill of achievement than somebody who had the same thing the deprived sought for all along. In the second verse, Dickinson discusses the victorious soldiers who acquired something apparently neither here nor there to their existence. This thought is associated in the final verse when the tragedy and yearning of the wounded is revealed.
In Morrison’s “Sula” the death of Hannah is very poetic. To begin with, Hannah takes a nap and dreams of a red bridal gown. She tells Eva about it, but Eva is too distracted by Sula’s adolescent behavior to think much about it.

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Later, Eva looks out her window in time to see Hannah’s dress catch on fire. She throws herself out of the window, hoping to cover Hannah’s body with her own. Mr. And Mrs. Suggs throw a tub of water on Hannah, but she is horribly scarred. Eva and Hannah are sent to the hospital in the same ambulance. Hannah is dead on arrival. Morrison’s description of the way that Hannah’s dress caught fire is very poetic, she says “the flames from the yard fire were kicking the blue cotton dress, making her dance.” Morrison’s description of something so horrible as Hannah’s death uses similes and metaphors to get the point across to the reader as well as capture the moment in an attention-grabbing way.
In conclusion, Dickinson, and Morrison both craft their writings with use of similes and metaphors. Both their use of this poetic element is what keeps us as the readers in concentration. Dickinson uses this element to intensely illustrate what success and failures are about by speaking through different characters in every verse. Morrison uses this poetic element to create a tragic scene and turn it in to something beautiful. Using this poetic element is what diverts readers.


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