Treasure Island

Emily Dickinson

(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886 / Amherst / Massachusetts)

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'Speech'—is a prank of Parliament


'Speech'—is a prank of Parliament—
'Tears'—is a trick of the nerve—
But the Heart with the heaviest freight on—
Doesn't—always—move —

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Monday, October 08, 2012

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Comments about this poem ('Speech'—is a prank of Parliament by Emily Dickinson )

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  • Manohar Bhatia (10/8/2013 8:02:00 AM)

    The poet speaks about {speech}, {tears} & {heart}. While everyone knows that a speech in a parlaiment is always politically motivated, there are some actos who cry just to concivnce; truthfully, it is only one's {heart} that can never think of a lie.Beautiful poem.
    Manohar Bhatia (Report) Reply

  • Paddy D Daly (10/8/2013 5:07:00 AM)

    speech is a trick of parliament, everyone in Ireland knows that, tears though in the main tend to be more honest
    and I guess a heavy heart might slow you down, but you can always move on (Report) Reply

  • Queeny Gona (10/8/2013 2:52:00 AM)

    Amazing read.
    Speech isn't always a prank,
    Tears aren't always a trick,
    And sometimes A heavy heart sometimes moves on..... (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/8/2012 11:53:00 AM)

    This does not make sense. True The heart etc.... But she admits it sometimes moves. And when it moves it must express itself with speech which is not a prank and tears which are not a trick of the nerve. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/9/2009 10:38:00 AM)

    Is it possible for Pruchnicki to comment on a poem without picking on people? My comments were heavily qualified with quotes, but 'Speech' is not a prank of parliament in an absolute way, i.e. not all (the absolute) speech in parliament is a prank. There are many able and fluent speakers in Parliament. They do not all do what either Pruchnicki or Dickinson say they do. It is Pruchnicki's criticism that almost always begins chug chug and then ends up in the wrong siding! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (10/8/2009 9:12:00 AM)

    Aside from the usual nit-picking by some of our more polished scribblers on this site, most readers managed to state the obvious, though a 'line's apparent absoluteness' (does he mean 'certainty'?) confuses this reader!

    Listen to any deliberative body (like the British Parliament or the United States Congress or the United Nations) and tell me if what these assembled members do in session is not like the engine of a freight train that starts slowly, chug by chug, building up a head of steam to propel the heavily loaded cars! Note how long it takes the speakers, some of whom love to hear the sound of their own voices, to begin to move an argument from A to B to C, etc. The drive wheels on the locomotive move almost imperceptibly at first. The dashes after 'Speech' and 'Tears' suggest that kind of slow motion common to both politicians and trains. Note that speeches do not always move the argument the way their makers intend. Sometimes even a strong appeal to the emotions (that 'trick of the nerve' mentioned in the second line) does not avail and the train sits motionless in the station. No matter the weight of the cargo, the gravity of the argument, nothing happens, and as speakers in the houses mentioned put it - the motion fails!

    Do not neglect to explore the metaphor Dickinson uses to illustrate what in the end is a very simple thought, but one expressed in a memorable fashion! (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/8/2009 7:22:00 AM)

    Should it not be ''Speech' - can be a prank of Parliament' etc. Are the quotes round 'Speech' and 'Tears' enough to qualify the line's apparent absoluteness? With that qualification, the poem says that the heart can be so heavy with feeling that words and tears cannot express it. Sometimes a sorrow, or a joy, ar too much, too weighty, for the faculties that usually express them. (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (10/8/2009 6:40:00 AM)

    A few simple words to capture the depths of the heart. Frivolous seem other things, when it comes to the heart. (Report) Reply

  • marvin brato (10/8/2009 5:15:00 AM)

    Speech may be the way people of wisdom shared their thoughts to elaborate a point, yet tears are expression of an emotional state induced by nerve-stirred sentiments; while those who are heavy laden with freight become too shock to even move or express true feelings.... I might be right? (Report) Reply

  • marvin brato (10/8/2009 5:14:00 AM)

    Speech may be the way people of knowledge shared their thoughts to elaborate a point, yet tears are expression of an emotional state induced by nerve-stirred sentiments; while those who are heavy laden with freight become too shock to even move or express true feelings.... I might be right? (Report) Reply

  • Adam Sobh (4/10/2009 11:51:00 AM)

    I'm doing a project on Emily Dickinson for my 11th grade American Literature class, and i need to find a poem by Miss Emily Dickinson and then analyze it, i chose this poem, but i don't really understand it, so if anybody could please explain it to me and help me to better understand it, i would be extremely grateful. (Report) Reply

  • Chris Mendros (10/8/2007 10:59:00 AM)

    You've got it, Richard. The powerful know all the tricks, but the more obdurate among us don't fall for them.
    For better or worse, neither do some of the most ignorant. (Report) Reply

  • Richard A. Davis SR. (8/21/2007 2:20:00 PM)

    Basically - I could lie to you, telling you what you want to hear.
    I could flow fake rivers of tears to deceive you.
    But a heart- the real emotion never falters.
    At least that’s what I read in this beautiful poem. (Report) Reply

  • Claire Gordon (1/17/2007 1:17:00 PM)

    I don't really know if I understand it either, but my interpretation is that speech is merely a tool for the goverment and that we are tricked by tears in thinking they mean someting but they are just a biological trick of the nerves. This, I think is to emphsise that the heart, however burdoned, doesn't move because it is true and not a trick.
    Well this is what I get from it but may be wrong - hope it helps! (Report) Reply

  • Junzhe Zou (10/10/2005 11:47:00 PM)

    Can anyone explain this poem to me? it doesn't make much sense. I think what the poet is trying to say is that the Parliment is just a bunch of old men that don't give a damn about anything, hence the 'doesn't always move'. (Report) Reply

Read all 20 comments »

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