Analysis of “Faith is A Fine Invention” by Emily Dickinson

Here is the poem:

“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

 

Dickinson is absolutely fascinating.  One of the most famous poets who was discovered long after her death.  She was born in 1830.  Emily spent the majority of her life away from people simply living by herself in her family homestead.  She wrote many poems and letters, but was never published.  I find her fame is from the way she is able to hide huge ideas in very few words.  She cuts absolutely everything away from the idea, forcing the reader to spend time evaluating and contemplating her writing.  This is the art of poetry.  You use words in a creative and thoughtful way.  The difference between poetry and prose is the lack of words within poetry, but not a lack of meaning.

To evaluate this writing we must split it up.  Here we see two separate ideas.  The first being:

“Faith” is a fine invention

When Gentlemen can see-

Here we find a simple nine words.  It would be extremely easy to derive multiple interpretations out of these all of which would be quite different.  Evaluating them I come to the conclusion that Dickinson is referring to the complacency of men and their knowledge.  The earth is round, the sky is blue, and the universe being large is all very common knowledge which the majority shares.  We have faith that our predecessors who discovered this were correct in their findings and the majority feels no need to look further.

This is when Dickinson develops her idea of the world further by saying:

But Microscopes are prudent

In an Emergency.

This has of coursed happened thousands of times throughout history.  Humans belief of an idea is threatened and people quickly become terrified.  Once this happens we as a society begin evaluating everything we have learned.  Our faith that we have the right information is shattered and quickly we begin evaluating everything we have learned.  It also reinforces the idea of how an idea or fact can quickly become incorrect.

I hope you enjoyed this quick little analysis of Emily Dickinson’s poetry.  I of course would recommend you become more familiar with her work which you can do at: Poem Hunter

Since the majority of her works are nearly a hundred years old you can also find many free collections on Amazon.