Site icon Victorian Era

“The Soul has Bandaged Moments”: Critical Detailed Analysis And Summary

Writer of the poem, “The soul has bandaged moments”, Emily Dickinson was a well-known prolific writer in American poetry. She was born on 10th December 1830 in Massachusetts, U.S. Throughout her life she has maintained a refined and elegant connection with her society which feels very astonishing when read.

In the poem, Emily Dickinson has wonderfully explored the soul of a human using the poetic style of personifying the artistic formulation, and its evaluation of ‘soul’ and ‘fear’ are indeed astonishing. The soul is referred to as a woman who certainly feels free but undergoes captivation at times.

Her soul is sublime and is emphatic towards the failure of controlling her sentiment. Such an aesthetic piece was published after Emily Dickinson’s death in 1886, in A Collection of Posthumous in 1890.

The Soul has Bandaged Moments: Summary

Emily Dickinson begins the poem “The Soul has Bandaged Moments” by applying several devices that helped her to describe the human soul, successfully paving the way and tactfully allowing her speaker to speak about the freedom and fright that she has faced in her life. In the very first stanza, the speaker begins to describe the spaces when she finds the human souls wrapped in bandages.

The pain and grief undergone by such delicate souls are tremendous. Often the souls out of torture turn frozen. Suddenly, a message gets conveyed to the speaker regarding something miserable that will be approaching to watch her which is extremely horrifying to look at.  That ‘terrible’, stuff is nothing but fear which has been artistically described as something more original and tangible with the help of personification.

Dickenson’s metaphorical usage of long figures enables the readers to recognize the hidden fear that the speaker was undergoing. The long claws seem to touch the soul. Souls are always pure and gracious which is later purified and tenderly covered with positivity but again the speaker’s soul is terribly occupied with fear.

Thus, horrible thoughts and risks hover in her mind instead of something astonishing and pure. Dickenson also provokes her speaker to speak about the time when she is allowed to live free devoid of any imprisonment or fear. With the occurrence of the departure of the soul, it begins to fly high unwrapping the negativity and refilling her mind with joy and zeal experiencing flexibility. But such freedom lasted for a short time span.

The speaker sadly addresses that her freedom was once again recaptured by imprisoning her wings. Gradually the fear tends to return and her mind was refilled with anxiety and fear of terrible happenings which cannot be even screamed out in front of society.

Thus, Emily Dickinson throughout her poem “The Soul has Bandaged Moments” successfully paves the way for her speaker to bring all her sufferings in front of the sphere intentionally neglecting and disowning the circumstances that she might have to face for such a declaration.

Structure and Form

The poem has been wonderfully structured to uphold the tortures that a woman needs to endure in order to attain a healthy society. She provokes her speaker to address all the pleasurable as well as miserable moments that she has undergone in her life. Dickenson has dramatically designed the poem by composing six stanzas which are further divided into two, six, or four sets of sentences.

Although most of the stanzas contain four lines and are referred to as quatrains and are mostly penned in a ballad meter scheme. Such a pattern is commonly used by Emily Dickinson. The stanzas are a wonderful mixture of iambic trimeter and tetrameter. ABCD is the rhyme scheme that has been induced in the poem by Emily Dickinson with a continuous change of sounds and approach throughout.

The Soul has Bandaged Moments: Analysis

In the poem “The Soul has Bandaged Moments” Emily Dickinson’s imaginations are often disturbing to visualize. She tactfully introduces a speaker who is a woman and after reading the poem it will not be unusual for the readers to think that with the help of her speaker Dickenson structures her sufferings magnificently in the poem.

She uses a few images which are horrific and miserable like ‘Goblin’, an imaginative invocation of a ghost along with the sufferings undergone by a prisoner. She willingly induces terms like ‘Felon’ and ‘Dungeoned’ to portray the sufferings of the human soul. Her speaker might deal with certain issues like depression, management, and lack of positivity. She feels that she has faced immense failure for not being capable of managing her sentiments.

The poem begins with a visualization of wounded soldiers that took place in the US Civil War and she minutely fetches are sufferings explaining how petrified her ‘soul’ is and there might be something deep that is existing within her soul which does not allow her to live calmly. The wounds brought by the sphere disables her to live and fly freely and she knows that her wounds are immensely deep as a result it will take much time to heal.

It seems as if she is fighting a war with her own mental state just the way the United States fought with itself.  Dickenson introduces a theme of loss where the soldiers went entirely fragmented and a continuous portrayal of bleeding could be found just like on the battlefield there are numerous wounded soldiers who are being operated on the hospital tents. We find such an explanation in Jonathan Letterman’s conception of triage.

There is an elaborate description of military terminology in the second stanza. Dickenson’s usage of certain words like ‘Fright’ enables her to give a ‘Salute’ but she also imagines that she is dead as when she comes across fright, her hair freezes suddenly. She relates such a sensation with an ugly ‘Goblin’ residing inside her but the major twist is this is no one but the speaker herself who willingly stretches such figures to address her negative imaginations.

Thus, her visualization of the battlefield along with the scattered lifeless creatures with her deep colourless thoughts might be the speaker’s way of expressing her suicidal thoughts.

Her fractured soul in the third stanza is devoid of peace and feels as if she is fighting a war with herself and with her present state of mind. Just the way the soldiers try to run away from the bomb to save their life similarly, she is running away from the bomb that is residing within her mind which can wound her at any moment. The sudden shift from the terms “Felon”, ‘Liberty’, ‘borne’, and ‘shackles’ to that of the prisoner is dramatically astonishing.

The prisoner who got the opportunity to escape achieved a life of liberty and live freely but the happiness was for a short span of time. Once they are captured, they had to face desertion. The word ‘staple’ describes the usage of the word ‘stapol’ and how it blocked the ways for executions.

Thus, the speaker gets trapped by ‘Goblin’ in the poem and when she decides to run away from it in search of freedom, the thought of getting caught and imprisonment once again horrifies her and she realizes that she cannot escape from ‘’Goblin’ as the whispers that it does lacks all positive hope. It is like a bomb. If she decides to run away then she will be recaptured soon as for her inner demons she is a prisoner and hence, the lanes are blocked gradually.

Thus, she has to remain stuck in the prison and fight with her own mental state just as the United States fought and was fractured eventually.

Themes used in Poem The Soul has Bandaged Moments

The Power of Sensitivity

In Emily Dickinson’s poem “The Soul has Bandaged Moments”, she introduces a speaker designing her character very elegantly portraying the ups and downs that she has undergone in her life. The speaker states that she has witnessed more downs in her life.

The poem addresses that a human being needs to suffer such inevitable pain and she has been born with the power to accept and survive in all extreme circumstances. The worst thing about the poem is the speaker used to recall her bad times even when everything is running appropriately in her life.

She kept on imagining her old fears assuming the return of fright and horrifying incidents equivalently. She uses miserable imagery to describe her experience of anxiety. We find her enlisting a number of unpleasant events that seem to arrive turning her life upside down altogether. The lady has several “Bandaged moments” and she expects to recover the wounds.

The wounds have been created by the world and they are tremendously deep due to which they need time to come back to their original elegant state. Her soul is afraid of the torture and she wishes to get rid of fear but whenever the speaker visits a state of relaxation certainly, she is evoked and petrified by the thought of mislaying.

The soul turns terribly anxious when some “some ghastly Fright”, appears to look “at her”. Such an imaginative immobilized human soul coming across a “Fright” or terror of a disarranged life shatters her mind with despair. The speaker undergoes a sensation of discomfort.

She imagines such an awful feeling captivating her soul which forces the speaker to continue elaborating the scenario like a “Goblin” which willingly strikes her hair which is entirely freezing and once it soaks a “sip” from her lips, she starts feeling helpless as her despair has begun to disclose a lascivious admirer. His advances have disabled her soul to initiate a flight freely.

Her imagination of despair has turned from restriction to a violation. She thinks that her beautiful soul has to accept the suffering without violating it. She might also indicate the term despair in an artistic formulation of a ‘Lover’ who is a bit more seductive about his feelings which the speaker is unable to control. But the soul certainly has moments when her mind fills joyous and free and she unleashes her life “bursting all the doors”.

However, Dickenson’s speaker is trying to portray her feeling when she is left free. Slowing, she unwraps herself from all obstacles that appear in front of her footsteps tactfully breaking the constriction of the narrow “bandages” that stopped her from flying.

After rescuing herself from such imprisonment she begins to dance, play, and laugh freely but the fear of getting imprisoned by him continuously petrified her. These are the portions in the poems where Dickenson efficiently upholds the true liberty of a human soul. A reader while going through her poem will come across the terms like the speaker “dances like a bomb” where she minutely stretches a comparison with an astounding sentiment of attaining such serenity and freedom to that of a bee blissfully reuniting with the fragrance of the rose petals.

The ‘Paradise’ which a soul infiltrates is very admirable but it does not last for a long time. It fades gradually with an invocation of fear and imprisonment heading towards the soul that is filled with zeal and enthusiasm. The soul has no other option except to surrender in front of the fear allowing the fright to retake her in the world of captivity and darkness.

Dickenson portrays a life cycle of a woman who is inadequate. Now, she is free just the other moment she can undergo the captivation of the powerful and it is so awful that the victim cannot even “brayed of tongue”, scream about her sufferings. The soul does not have any control of the sphere. The only thing that she can do is accept her destiny. The cycle of happiness hindered by an interlude of tragedy and fright is very saddening. Thus, the escape from pain is never really permanent.

Literary Devices

Emily Dickinson efficiently uses various literary devices to enhance her description of the poem magnificently. She has used the poetical technique of alliteration for initiating the repetition of the sound of the consonant. For Example- The terms ‘Feels’ and ‘Fright’ induced by Dickenson are the best examples of alliteration in the first stanza.

An occurrence of an Enjambment in a line can be very well identified by the reader when a line suddenly gets cut off before its natural ending point. The formulation of an Enjambment can be understood frantically in lines number three and four in the poem.


State the purpose of Emily Dickenson’s poem ‘The Soul has Bandaged Moments‘.

Emily Dickinson’s main motive was to address the nature and the flexibility of the soul which she performed efficiently. The fear and the emotions which disable the freedom of a human soul are appropriately described in the poem which is disturbing at times to visualize.

In Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘The Soul has Bandaged Moments‘, who is the speaker?

The speaker of the poem addresses the agony of a human soul. The arrival of fear in life can destroy happiness bringing destruction to one’s cycle of life. It can be the poet herself who has designed her existence by introducing another female speaker dramatically or the image of the female soul can be a mere imagination of the author who is unknown.

What is the structure of the poem ‘The Soul has Bandaged Moments’?

The poem is composed of six stanzas which are further divided into three sets each containing four lines, two or six lines. Most of the stanzas are formulated following the quatrain poetical structure and are penned in a ballad meter scheme.

What is the exact meaning of the poem ‘The Soul has Bandaged Moments’ that Emily Dickinson has tried to explain?

Human sentiment and emotions are extremely powerful. It can change one’s existence in life. The perception of living freely to suddenly getting captivated and surrendering in front of fear has been depicted in the poem successfully.

Exit mobile version