GCSE 9-1 English Language and Literature here

KS3 & KS4 Catch Up

Blog Archive

Student Room

Useful Materials

I Felt a Funeral in my Brain

Theresa Sowerby | Monday September 03, 2012


Guide Navigation

Introduction and Biography | Features of Dickinson’s Style | Themes and Subject Matter | Poem by Poem Analysis | Sample Answer

A Selection of Poems

Based on the requirements of OCR unit F661.

Note: individual analyses with potential links with other poems marked in blue.


  1. Poem 258: There’s a certain Slant of Light
  2. Poem 280: I felt a Funeral in my Brain
  3. Poem 341: After great pain, a formal feeling comes
  4. Poem 465: I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
  5. Poem 501: This World is not Conclusion
  6. Poem 510: It was not Death, for I stood up
  7. Poem 712: Because I could not stop for Death
  8. Poem 721: Behind Me - dips Eternity
  9. Poem 754: My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –
  10. Poem 1400: What mystery pervades a well!
  11. Poem 670: One need not be a Chamber - to be Haunted & Exemplar Exam Answer

2. Poem 280: I felt a Funeral in my Brain

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My mind was going numb -

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space - began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here -

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down -
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then -

Points to consider:

This is a challenging poem, whose meaning is still very much debated. A suggested “way into it? which you may find helpful it to look for certain predominant features, which give the poem structure:

  • The metaphor of a funeral is carried through. Look for specific features of a funeral service that are mentioned.
  • There is a semantic field of sound. Again look for references to the sense of hearing or music.
  • Pick out the nouns which have been given capital...

Please subscribe or log in to access the rest of this resource (including associated media).

This website offers a wealth of enriched content to help you help your students with GCSE English Language and Literature. Please subscribe or log in to access this content.

The content of this site has been produced by teachers and examiners. Edusites have similar support sites for Film and Media called Edusites Film and Edusites Media.

If you would like more information about Edusites English, get in touch using the contact details below.

Kind regards, Richard Gent
Edusites Ltd

[email] admin@edusites.co.uk
[telephone] 01604 847689
[fax] 01604 843220