Heart! We Will Forget Him!" by Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

In "Heart! We Will Forget Him!" by Emily Dickinson, the poet explores the themes of heartbreak, memory, and the deliberate act of moving on from a lost love. Through the metaphor of a conversation between the heart and the speaker, the poem delves into the process of healing and the complexities of letting go. Dickinson skillfully employs contrast, vivid imagery, and personification to convey the emotional turmoil of the speaker and the determination to overcome the pain of a past relationship. The poem captures the internal struggle between holding onto memories and embracing the prospect of forgetting.

Heart! We Will Forget Him!

Heart! We will forget him!
You and I — tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave —
I will forget the light!
When you have done, pray tell me
That I may straight begin!
Haste! lest while you're lagging
I remember him!

Summary

"Heart! We Will Forget Him!" is a poignant exploration of the process of moving on from a lost love. The poem's speaker engages in a conversation with their own heart, addressing it directly. The speaker and their heart make an agreement to forget the person they once loved. The heart is encouraged to forget the emotional warmth that the person provided, while the speaker commits to forgetting the light they brought into their life. The speaker urges their heart to act swiftly in forgetting, so that they can start the process of moving on. However, the speaker acknowledges the possibility that their heart might lag behind, and they might remember their lost love despite their intentions to forget.

Critical Analysis

"Heart! We Will Forget Him!" delves into the complex emotions associated with the aftermath of a lost love and the struggle to overcome the pain of that loss.

The poem's structure, featuring short lines and stanzas, reflects the urgency and emotional intensity of the speaker's dialogue with their heart.

The opening line, "Heart! We will forget him!" sets the tone for the conversation and reveals the speaker's determination to move on.

The contrast between forgetting "the warmth he gave" and forgetting "the light" highlights the various facets of the relationship that the speaker and their heart seek to let go of.

The personification of the heart adds depth to the poem, turning it into an internal conversation between the speaker's emotions and their rationality.

The phrase "pray tell me" suggests a sense of agency and control as the speaker initiates the process of forgetting.

The repetition of the word "Haste" emphasizes the urgency of moving forward and the speaker's impatience to start the healing process.

The concluding lines, "lest while you're lagging / I remember him!" capture the internal struggle between the speaker's conscious desire to forget and the lingering memories that threaten to resurface.

"Heart! We Will Forget Him!" captures the universal experience of grappling with memories of lost love and the challenges of overcoming emotional attachments.

Themes

  • Healing and Moving On: The poem explores the theme of healing after a lost love and the conscious effort required to move on from emotional attachments.
  • Memory and Forgetting: The poem examines the tension between memories of the past and the desire to forget in order to embrace the future.
  • Internal Struggle: The dialogue between the speaker and their heart reveals the inner conflict between the rational decision to forget and the emotional pull of memories.

Attitudes/Feelings

  • Desire for Healing: The speaker's dialogue with their heart reflects a genuine desire to heal and move forward from the pain of lost love.
  • Urgency: The repeated use of words like "Haste" and "lagging" conveys the urgency and impatience to overcome the lingering memories.

Language

  • Imagery: The imagery of forgetting the warmth and light associated with the lost love creates a vivid contrast that underscores the emotional detachment the speaker seeks.
  • Personification: The heart is personified as a separate entity engaged in conversation with the speaker, enhancing the emotional depth of the poem.

Literary Devices

The poem employs the following literary devices:

  • Contrast: The contrast between remembering the warmth and forgetting the light serves as a metaphor for the different aspects of the relationship that the speaker and their heart are seeking to forget.
  • Repetition: The repetition of the word "Haste" emphasizes the urgency of moving on and reinforces the emotional intensity of the speaker's dialogue.

Feel free to share your thoughts and interpretations of "Heart! We Will Forget Him!" in the comments section below. How does the poem's exploration of memory, healing, and the internal struggle resonate with you?

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