The Role of Metaphor in Emily Dickinson's Poem "Safe In Their Alabaster Chamber"

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Emily Dickinson uses different poetic devices in her 1861 poem “Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers” to communicate with her audience. The poem revolves around the theme of death in the Christianity religion. The theme is evident in the choice of words by Emily such as Using “Sleep” to mean “death” and using “chambers” to mean a “casket.” Some of the poetic devices used which play a major role towards understanding the poem include Metaphor, Alliteration, metonymy, Anaphora, and allusion which play are a major role in enhancing the theme of the poem.

Use of Metaphor is one of the poetic devices used by Emily Dickinson. Metaphors in poems appear when a comparison of two unrelated things is made implicitly or in a hidden way. In Emily’s “Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers” the 1861 version the poetic device is evident when she indirectly compares tombs to the bedroom. In line one the first stanza, “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers-,“ and in line four of the same stanza “Lie the Meek members of the Resurrection-“ compare a dead person lying in the tomb to a person asleep lying in the bedroom (Emily). Beds are indirectly compared to caskets while death is compared to sleep. The device is important in enhancing the meaning of the poem since it provides a mental image to the reader.  Another important poem device used in the poem is Metonymy. In line four of the second stanza “Diadems-drop…” ‘Diadems’ is used to represent rulers who fall from their thrones. The poetic device is used to stress the power of death (Emily). Alliteration is also used in the poem. For instance, it appears in line 1 of the first stanza, “…Alabaster Chambers-“ another example is line five of the first stanza, “Rafter of Satin-and Roof of Stone (Emily)!” The device enhances musicality which is vital in increasing memorability hence an understanding of the poem.

Poetic devices play a vital in the understanding of a poetic work by the audience. Emily Dickinson’s has used different poetic devices such as metaphor, metonymy, and alliteration which have contributed positively towards an understanding of the poem.

Work Cited

Emily Dickinson, Emily. “Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers (216).”, Web. Accessed on 18 April 2018 at

December 12, 2023



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Poetry Emily Dickinson Poets

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