Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church

Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church

by Emily Dickinson

Some keep the sabbath going to church –
I keep it, staying at home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.

Summary of Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church

  • Popularity of “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church”: This is one of the best poems written by Emily Dickinson. ‘Some keep the Sabbath going to Church’ is about religion and meditation. The poem explores the concept of religious practices in Christianity and the norms they impose on the masses. It also illustrates the speaker’s perspective toward these practices.
  • “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church” As a Representative of Conflict: The poem presents a conflict between ongoing religious practices and the poet’s different choice. It centers on the day of sabbath, that’s Sunday. According to the Bible, sabbath is the day of rest from work. After Christianity spread across Europe, people follow Sabbath on Sunday. Christians go to church to offer special prayers. They love to devote this day to the services of God, but the speaker denies to follow this established custom. She prefers staying at home and enjoying her leisure, which she considers as sacred as the church. To her, life offers various ways to achieve spirituality rather than follow the set rules blindly. In other words, you can still go to church and be a bad person, and going to church will not make you holy. The short poem exposes the old church hypocrisy.
  • Major Themes in “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church”: Religion, conflict, and hypocrisy are the major themes of this poem. According to the poem, God is omnipresent; therefore, it is not an obligation to be part of any congregation or to attend church to have a strong tie with God. It is not necessary to interact with those who worship God in the Church building. She does not long for heaven after death because she believes that she is already with God in her natural setting.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church”

Literary devices such as similes, personifications, and consonances bring richness to the text and make the reader understand the hidden meanings of the text. Emily Dickenson has also made this poem superb by using figurative language. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /i/ in ‘I keep it, staying at Home’ and the sound of /e/ in ‘So instead of getting to Heaven’.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /n/ in ‘And the sermon is never long’ and the sound of /t/ in ‘So instead of getting to Heaven, at last’.
  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same. For example, as the sound of /s/ in ‘Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice’ and the sound of /w/ in ‘I, just wear my Wings’.
  4. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meanings of the words. For example, the poet ironically calls God a noted minister in ‘God preaches, a noted Clergyman’.
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church, I look cool”, “I, just wear my Wings” and “God preaches, a noted Clergyman.”
  6. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. In the third line, ‘With a Bobolink for a Chorister’ the poet compares the bird to the church choir.
  7. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Wearing wings symbolizes angel.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each comprises four lines.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here each stanza is a quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABCB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues until the end.
  4. Repetition: There is a repetition of the verse ‘Some keep the Sabbath’. It has created a musical quality in the poem.
  5. Refrain: The lines that are repeated again at some distance in the poems are called refrain. The verse, “Some keep the Sabbath” is repeated with the same words in the first verses of the first and second stanza. Hence, it has become a refrain.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about religious practices and while encouraging people to be spiritual instead of religious.

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for church,
Our little Sexton – sings.”