To Fight Aloud Is Very Brave, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

"TO FIGHT ALOUD, IS VERY BRAVE" by Emily Dickinson delves into the theme of internal struggles and the concept of bravery in the face of personal battles and emotional turmoil. Through the use of vivid imagery and metaphors, the poem explores the idea that facing one's inner battles quietly and courageously is a form of gallantry that often goes unnoticed by the outside world. The poem highlights the contrast between the outwardly visible acts of courage and the quieter, less visible battles fought within.

TO FIGHT ALOUD, IS VERY BRAVE

To fight aloud is very brave,
But gallanter, I know,
Who charge within the bosom,
The cavalry of woe.
Who win, and nations do not see,
Who fall, and none observe,
Whose dying eyes no country
Regards with patriot love.
We trust, in plumed procession,
For such the angels go,
Rank after rank, with even feet
And uniforms of snow.

Summary

"TO FIGHT ALOUD, IS VERY BRAVE" explores the theme of internal courage and the concept of bravery in the face of personal struggles and emotional battles. The poem contrasts the public displays of bravery with the quieter, less visible acts of courage carried out within the heart and mind. The speaker suggests that those who battle their inner turmoil privately and with resilience exhibit a deeper form of bravery that often goes unrecognized by the world. The poem also alludes to the idea of angels as unseen warriors who embody this form of hidden bravery.

Critical Analysis

The poem opens with the assertion that "To fight aloud is very brave," acknowledging the courage displayed in visible, outward battles. However, the word "gallanter" introduces a sense of contrast, suggesting that an even greater form of bravery lies in internal struggles that remain hidden.

The phrase "charge within the bosom" employs military imagery to describe the inner battles that individuals face. The metaphor of "the cavalry of woe" suggests the onslaught of emotional turmoil that one must confront privately.

The second stanza explores the paradox of "winning" and "falling" without receiving recognition or observation from others. The use of the term "nations" implies a broader context beyond the individual, highlighting the isolation of personal struggles and the lack of external acknowledgment.

The image of "dying eyes no country / Regards with patriot love" conveys the idea that personal battles and sacrifices often go unnoticed by the larger society. The word "patriot" contrasts with the internal, personal nature of the struggles, emphasizing the disconnect between individual experiences and collective loyalties.

The poem then introduces the concept of trusting in a "plumed procession" of angels. This image suggests that unseen, ethereal beings embody the quieter, hidden bravery described earlier. The description of angels proceeding "Rank after rank, with even feet / And uniforms of snow" emphasizes the organized and disciplined nature of their courage.

Themes

  • Inner Battles: The poem delves into the theme of internal battles and emotional struggles that individuals face. It highlights the courage required to confront personal turmoil privately.
  • Hidden Bravery: The poem contrasts the public displays of bravery with the more concealed form of courage exhibited by those who fight their inner battles in silence.
  • Recognition and Isolation: The poem reflects on the isolation and lack of recognition that often accompany personal struggles, highlighting the disconnection between individual experiences and societal acknowledgment.

Attitudes/Feelings

  • Admiration: The poem expresses admiration for those who face their inner battles with quiet resilience and courage.
  • Reflection: The poem encourages readers to reflect on the complexities of bravery and the different forms it can take.

Literary Devices

  • Military Imagery: The poem employs military imagery, such as "cavalry" and "charge," to convey the sense of battling internal woe.
  • Metaphor: The metaphor of "cavalry of woe" represents the emotional struggles that individuals confront within themselves.
  • Contrast: The poem contrasts the concept of outward bravery with the idea of hidden, internal bravery, highlighting the complexity of courage.

Discussion Question

How does Dickinson's use of military imagery and the concept of hidden bravery contribute to the exploration of the theme of internal struggles in the poem? How does the poem challenge traditional notions of bravery?

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