Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –

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

Meaning

“Ground” and “Air” may simply be references to other natural situations, such as the life of the narrator, that continue regardless of the tragedy. This is in itself, quite tragic. Not only has this tragedy occurred, but life goes on, physically stifling and freezing the narrator in this feeling of loss because it cannot be similarly felt by others.

(credit to: http://drellensimonend.wordpress.com/)

Adding “ought” to this list is unexpected. It suggests that the speaker is stuck woodenly going through the tasks she “ought” to be doing. It also SOUNDS exactly like “aught,” meaning nothing, signified by the circle of a zero. This image of the zero recalls the feet going “round.”

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