Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fame is a Fickle Food by Emily Dickinson

Fame is a fickle food
Upon a shifting plate
Whose table once a
Guest but not
The second time is set.

Whose crumbs the crows inspect
And with ironic caw
Flap past it to the Farmer's Corn -
Men eat of it and die.


This poem by Emily Dickinson is rather confusing at first. The speaker uses many different analogies and words that create a sense of confusion throughout the poem. At least for me, I wasn't really sure what the poem was talking about when I read it the first couple of times. The title itself helps out in the understanding of the poem a little bit but it still consists of deeper thought and consideration. From reading the poem, I gathered that the speaker is talking about fame and relates it to food or a meal. The speaker sees fame as a deadly thing and sees it as something that is bad in general. When the reader reads the poem, they can gather that fame is a bad thing when the speaker says "men eat of it and die." This one line shows that it simply isn't good and can be the cause of death. The speaker compares fame to a fickle food because it is something that can change people in an instant. The poem talks about a "shifting plate" which represents the changes that fame makes when it affects someone. The speaker also talks about a crow, a bird that is kind of the representation of evil or that something bad has come upon and utilizes the crow to show that the aspect of fame is something that a crow can relate to. The fact that the speaker also writes that the crow has an "ironic caw" and that he flaps past the crumbs to the "Farmer's Corn," shows that the crow, like fame is fickle as well. The whole poem seems confusing throughout its entirety, but when broken down line by line, it seems a little clearer.

3 Comments:

Blogger Lilan said...

This IS a confusing poem, and I think you did a really good thing by breaking it down line by line. Your interpretation of the poem helped me understand it better.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Julie Mong said...

A great poem by Dickinson. I love her poetry and this one is much like the rest. Her poems are never really clear in the beginning which is why I think she is great. Fame is a fickle food. I like that line, it just tells all about what fame is really like. People only like you when your famous, and when the world blows you over, what then?

6:22 PM  
Blogger MValentine said...

I agree that the poem is very confusing, withut the title to clue me in I would have been lost. I like how ester analyzed the metaphor of this poem, and I think that my favorite part of the metaphor is the crows inspecting the crumbs. This reminds me of all the people who sit day to day in the UCI bookstore taking their fill of magazines and the gossip columns finnding out every detail of these peoples lives whom they don't even know.

8:57 PM  

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