‘was it He, that bore,’
“He” in this case is a possible reference to God, or Christ in the image of suffering during his crucifixion. Directly, it likely refers to a comparison where both the narrator and Christ have experienced a deep, symbolic pain.
In a darker light, however, it may be a sarcastic or deeply depressing reference to the question “was it He that bore?” In fact, the narrator may be expressing the idea that her suffering seems worse than Christ’s. This is quite contrary to traditional theology, which often displays Christ’s sacrifice as the ultimate representation of suffering and atonement.
This is an especially interesting interpretation considering Dickinson’s grapple with religion. According to http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/church, Dickinson did not join the church at the time that great religious revival was sweeping through New England, although the majority of her friends and family members were. Throughout her poetic life, she continued to harbor many emotions towards religion, including faithfulness, doubt, understanding and anger. Rather than attending services for the rest of her life, she observed the Sabbath “staying at home.”
Given this information, it is perhaps prudent to read into the possibly darker meaning behind this seemingly reverent phrase.
(A quote from Emily Dickinson, utilized to describe the message of the Freedom From Religion Foundation)
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