The Feet, mechanical, go round

from Emily Dickinson – After great pain a formal feeling comes (J341, F372) on Rap Genius


Compared to the previous stanza, this line is surprisingly devoid of emotional or spiritual references. Indeed, it almost follows the phrase “stiff Heart,” as it calls the feet “mechanical,” as if tragedy makes humans temporarily less human, disconnecting them from time, which continues. In this sense, something as physical as feet must continue to “go round,” in an effort to blend in (although the method is mechanical and artificial.) Perhaps humans continue this way in order to hide the pain.

In the Kubler-Ross model’s five steps for dealing with tragedy, the first step is indeed denial. This line may represent a similar sense of denial, in which people continue with their life, but as an emptier version of who they were before. In an effort to believe that nothing has gone wrong, they slow the healing process.

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