In her poem Some keep the Sabbath going to Church Emily Dickinson has utilised metaphor in her entire poem to convey her message. She conveys the message on freedom of worship and the reason why she did not attend church on Sundays. According to her there is more satisfaction in worshipping God in a personal way and understanding than following a crowd to follow established disciplines and religious acts. What matters to the speaker is the personal satisfaction and fulfilment in seeking God in her own way, other than pleasing people by attending church every Sunday. She exposes the hypocrisy from people who just go to church to merely keep the Sabbath practise other than truly worship.
Metaphors are commonly used in poems to define the relations that exist between different forms of objects. They are used to relate the two objects closely and reveal a similar aspect, (Priddy, Anna & Harold). Unlike in simile where the word like is utilised to relate objects, metaphors relate objects directly. In the opening line the word Some has been employed metaphorically. It has been employed to imply that those who attend church religiously are missing out by being limited to the church. They attend to simply achieve the societal expectations. In her statement that she Keeps it at home suggests that she has identified something that these people are missing out without particularly being so religious. She has created her church at home and faithfully communes with God.
The speaker continues to illustrate that Going to Church and Staying at Home are two equivalent things to her. Her Home is her Church, and this is clear even in the use of capital words. She is achieving her objective of worship at home rather than in the church. To prove her commitment to God she needs not leave her home. Her devotion is evident every day of her life other than on a particular day and in a particular way. The speaker is achieves more than they that leave home to show off their holiness in a church service. Its all nothing but mere hypocrisy.
In her second verse she approves her church in her use of Bobolink for a Chorister. In an accustomed pious set up there will always be music from the choir. She does not need the choir since Bobolink the songbird is more than enough. Her location is an Orchard and not a physical church. She does not have to be bored sited in the church awaiting the lengthy sermons. She communicates to her maker through the simple natural set up in her orchard. The metaphors here have been clearly used to show her own way of enjoying nature and communing with God.
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice I, just wear my Wings. Here the speaker again utilizes metaphor to show the kind of garments worn by the religious people as they attend church. The hypocrites make it complex by getting attires that signify how holy and righteous they are as they go to church. Dickinson boasts that there is no complexity as she communes with her maker. She just wears her wings implying that her main requirement is being herself rather than wear a facade that implies otherwise. She is totally free and only her innermost conviction of being in line with her maker is vital to her.
In the second and third line of the second verse she explains that she needs no church bells. And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church, Our little Sexton sings. In the two lines the speaker compares the tolling bell to a singing Sexton. The starter of her communion with God is that sweet and melodious tune from a sexton singing. There are no disturbing sounds of a bell ringing. It starts so naturally with no human intervention but Gods own doing through his wonderful creatures. Meeting her creator is not on a basis of her attendance to church. Its definite in her heart that she will meet Him regardless of the religious acts. She thus remains true herself and to her God and wavers not in this confidence.
She seeks for no preacher in her third verse, God preaches, a noted Clergyman And the sermon is never long. There is no need for another party in between her and her God. God himself preaches to her. She receives in a better and a less complicated way than those in the church service. They (in the church service) have to wait for long sermons unlike in her service where the sermons are precise and enjoyable. Clergyman is the metaphor used to refer to her preacher, God. Nobody keeps telling her that heaven is held in reserve for the few faithful church goers. She believes that she is already in heaven on earth, Justifying that church lies to people and no need to attend and listen to such lies.
Church attendants perceive how hard it is making it to heaven. They are reminded every Sunday to maintain their religious acts as a ticket to heaven. Dickinson thus feels this is not right. She has already found God right in her Orchard. She needs not go through a struggle of pleasing people and following meaningless discipline to get to heaven. She is so confident and content that Heaven is already her portion. In her ordinary set up with God she has found what people are chasing. Its astonishing to her how people have come to believe in the struggle before finding God and going to heaven.
In her ending line, So instead of getting to Heaven, at last Im going, all along its an effort to lure the reader with a rhetorical question that Are you with me in this journey? It is in no way that she will miss out heaven. She is the journey and nobody can convince her otherwise. This is a courageous act in a world that expects things done in a particular way. She chooses a different path regardless of being a daughter of a Stalwart.
In conclusion, Dickinson has utilised metaphor in her efforts to compare the church and traditional ways of worship. Worship is not just going to church as a ritual. It is seeking God as an individual and establishing a connection. Its from this connection that one gets a sense of purpose and meaning in life; satisfaction beyond performing religious acts and meeting expectations of others. Thus her poem clear shows how religion and nature compares.
Juhasz, Suzanne. Metaphor and the Poetry of Williams, Pound, and Stevens. Lewisburg [Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1973. Print
Priddy, Anna, and Harold Bloom. Bloom's How to Write About Emily Dickinson. New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2008. Internet resource.
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