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A radical faith: The Bible versus Orpheus and poetry - An analysis of Emily Dickinson’s poem 1577

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  1. Introduction
  2. The definition of the Bible
  3. The first three lines
  4. The most radical line
  5. The speaker's repeated derision of the Bible
  6. Recounting subjects of the Bible
  7. The final two lines
  8. The initial line
  9. The importance of faith
  10. Conclusion
  11. Works cited

In Emily Dickinson's poem 1577, ?The Bible is an antique Volume-,? the speaker questions blind adherence to Biblical belief and ultimately proposes the adoption of a new faith. Through skeptical tone and understated form, the poem elegantly demeans the Bible's authority as the sole means by which to interpret human life. In its place, the speaker suggests that poetry, the written word in all its beauty, become the supreme system of belief.

[...] These lines, and the poem as a whole, are largely devoid of the intricate syntax common in Dickinson's other poems. The simplicity of ?Satan the Brigadier? and ?David the Troubadour? seems pointed; the speaker is reducing the Bible's complexity, its tangled narrative, to a mere list. Animate characters Satan, Judas, David are characterized by titles of notoriety ?Brigadier, Defaulter, Troubadour.? Never mind the details of Judas' betrayal or David's multitudinous greatness; the speaker feels these titles convey the necessary information. [...]

[...] Those who do not believe in God and Christianity, those who have not ?found the are in a sinful world. While this line seems blatantly sarcastic, it transitions nicely into the subsequent couplet: but the Tale a warbling Teller /All the Boys would come.? With a different bard, the speaker says, all these boys would be lost no more. After seemingly endless derision of the Bible, the speaker presents another faith with which the world can be understood. This belief system is exemplified by Orpheus, of whose sermon the speaker says ?captivated? but not condemn.? The speaker respects, to some degree, the importance of faith, of a belief system. [...]

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