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The final stanza is therefore clearly talking about how those left behind grieve, and then are reminded of their own mortality. But it also is as you say, doubly meaning letting go of that grief, as well as letting go of life when your turn comes.

Siri Hustvedt on “After great pain, a formal feeling comes–”

Diane dianehavensvo. Thanks for your answer. This helped me a lot and actually gave me some food for thought. When the "He" refers to God, then one has to wonder what is ment by "was it He that bore".

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Maybe it is a little bit far- fetched, but could it be some kind of allusion to God sending Jesus to us who then died for our sins- some musing about whether God might have felt grief, too? I hope this idea isn't blasphemous Or is the "He" not refering to God father, but to his son who bore our sins? She is saying through the poem, this is my Death, and was this what it was like for Christ? There need not be no particular psychological trauma.

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She was a Baptist, and her poetry was heavily influenced by NE traditional Baptist theology and hymns. Mortality is an obsessive theme for her.


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Last edited by Jozanny; at PM. Reason: sp. Originally Posted by Cicero. I think that this poem is about the process of coping with some severe psychological trauma. The Hour of Lead is loosely based on a Swedish folk tradition where the efficacy of an amulet relied upon a participatory mode of making — one comprised of an elaborate sequence of ritual actions, materials, and the collaboration of the smith and recipient over a period of time.

As the Church discouraged such magical practices, this process was both secretive and subversive — adding to its power. The first step of my adaptation takes place in various public spaces, where I engage with strangers.

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Those who choose to sit with me are asked what they need a spell for, after which they are asked to return the following week with specific materials. The speaker is kicking back to lines and telling us that if we manage to survive the period of shock then remembering it will be the same as how people who freeze to death remember snow.


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Question: how do people who've frozen to death remember anything? The simile directly contradicts "outlived" in line If somebody experiences "the letting go," a. It seems like the speaker is using this contradiction to again put us in a state that's between life and death. Just like with the tomb-y nerves in the first stanza and the robotic walking in the second, here we're put in a numb in between place.

The idea of numbness is hammered home by the image of snow. The feeling of freezing to death in a snowstorm—that's gotta be as about as numb as it gets.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes – (372)

Like in 11, the speaker also stops the show with a caesura. In line 12, she puts a comma between "persons" and "recollect. The final line is caesura'd to the max.

The Hour of Lead

Here, Emily's trademark dashes divide up the line, putting pauses all the way through. All this pausing in the midst of the line does a great job of slowing the poem down.