'Speech'—is A Prank Of Parliament Poem by Emily Dickinson

'Speech'—is A Prank Of Parliament

Rating: 3.0


'Speech'—is a prank of Parliament—
'Tears'—is a trick of the nerve—
But the Heart with the heaviest freight on—
Doesn't—always—move —

Michael Pruchnicki 08 October 2009

Aside from the usual nit-picking by some of our more polished scribblers on this site, most readers managed to state the obvious, though a 'line's apparent absoluteness' (does he mean 'certainty'?) confuses this reader! Listen to any deliberative body (like the British Parliament or the United States Congress or the United Nations) and tell me if what these assembled members do in session is not like the engine of a freight train that starts slowly, chug by chug, building up a head of steam to propel the heavily loaded cars! Note how long it takes the speakers, some of whom love to hear the sound of their own voices, to begin to move an argument from A to B to C, etc. The drive wheels on the locomotive move almost imperceptibly at first. The dashes after 'Speech' and 'Tears' suggest that kind of slow motion common to both politicians and trains. Note that speeches do not always move the argument the way their makers intend. Sometimes even a strong appeal to the emotions (that 'trick of the nerve' mentioned in the second line) does not avail and the train sits motionless in the station. No matter the weight of the cargo, the gravity of the argument, nothing happens, and as speakers in the houses mentioned put it - the motion fails! Do not neglect to explore the metaphor Dickinson uses to illustrate what in the end is a very simple thought, but one expressed in a memorable fashion!

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Kevin Straw 08 October 2012

This does not make sense. True The heart etc.... But she admits it sometimes moves. And when it moves it must express itself with speech which is not a prank and tears which are not a trick of the nerve.

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Queeny Gona 08 October 2013

Amazing read. Speech isn't always a prank, Tears aren't always a trick, And sometimes A heavy heart sometimes moves on.....

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Ramesh T A 08 October 2010

Indeed stone heart cannot be melt by speech or tears in life!

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Marvin Brato 08 October 2009

Speech may be the way people of wisdom shared their thoughts to elaborate a point, yet tears are expression of an emotional state induced by nerve-stirred sentiments; while those who are heavy laden with freight become too shock to even move or express true feelings.... I might be right?

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Gangadharan Nair Pulingat 09 October 2014

A great poem where sadness of tears is also seen there. Having limited knowledge about the great poet and her poems the following comment of Respected readers john Richter referred in detail which transformed the mind in such meaningful ways of understanding of the poem and the circumstances that lead to writing the poem which is very informative. The depressive mood in the old days of the poet and the reasons all are read and opened the window of understanding the poem in a different mood which I think that this is not a simple poem in four lines but wonderful creativity came from the mind of the poet.

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Gajanan Mishra 08 October 2014

Life moves as it is.

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John Richter 08 October 2014

I think she is referring to fake emotions - that speech and tears can be constructed on whim to act a part, to feign a cause or emotion. But true sadness, sadness that exists as only that, leaves a body unable to even interact. I think understanding Emily's poems can be difficult, but knowing that she was extremely emotional and exceptionally loving to those who opened their hearts to her can help that understanding. Emily made many loving friends while studying as a young woman and became despondant, (probably clinically depressed) over their deaths one by one as she became older. In the end she became a complete hermit - incapable or refusing interaction with almost all others. Knowing that makes this poem as clear as a bell to me and is just another window into her beautifully loving soul.

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Terry Craddock 08 October 2014

Loved the contrast of speech/tears with prank/trick and parliament/nerve implications. Yes when the heart is light and care free we can occasionally seem to float but Emily is correct, if our heart is weighted down with the heaviest fright sometimes we cannot move and the heart in dire straights is incapable of motion. This poem is beautifully succinct 10+ for a brevity of delightful insight concisely conveyed :)

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Frank Avon 08 October 2014

Miss Emily always surprises me with each new poem of hers that I read. I don't always understand them, certainly upon first reading, but like this one they almost always communicate with me - something I'm glad to have heard. Two aspects of this one caught me - and moved me - even in my first impressions. (1) The sounds of her words: obviously she always takes pleasure in their sounds. Her half rhymes (nerve, move) , her ballad or hymn stanza (ABCB, , her dashes for slight pauses, especially the alliteration, consonance, and assonance (e.g., Prank/Parliament, Heart/heaviest, Prank/trick, Speech/tears/heaviest, Parliament/heart) , and the play on words (move=elicit motion vs. move=go somewhere) - all these gave me pleasure long before I took the time to list them for myself consciously. (2) Her juxtaposition of opposites of one kind or another. 'But' turns out to be the key word in the poem, demanding that we see the contrast between the pranks and tricks of the first two lines and the 'heaviest freight' of the second; i.e., between the somewhat superficial and the definitely profound. One can go on finding contrasts: the overt (speech/tears) and the unspoken (heart and 'move'): the positive and negative (is/is and doesn't) , the direct statements of the first two lines vs. the subtle implications of the second two. Lovely. And having said all this, I suspect my understanding is still superficial (itself a prank or trick) , not the depth that will emerge with successive readings (the heaviest freight, yet to come) . Thank you, PH, for choosing such a delightful work as the poem of the day. the prank and trick of the first two lines

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Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

Amherst / Massachusetts
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