For the true experience of life, failures are inevitable. For, what we learn from our failures, success can never teach us. The alliteration with the repetition of the s sound lays emphasis on success. Success also tastes sweeter to the person who has persevered very hard for it, than to a person who has found success effortlessly. The former is also more thankful to God, and cherishes his accomplishment. The word nectar here implies water. However, it is perception that renders it nectar. To the thirsty ones with parched throats, a drop of water tastes as sweet as nectar. Here sorest is utilized with reference to its old meaning ,that is greatest.Only the one in the direst need, can treasure any sort of sanction.
Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory!
Some people define success by virtue of positions that they acquire and assume in life. The poetess asserts how none of the purple leaders who took the flag to-day could describe what victory actually meant. The act of victory in such a stance of winning a battle is limited to the act of taking away a flag. It also points to the worldly act of hoisting a flag. Arundhati Roy in The End of Imagination toys with the word successful.She echoes how the meaning of the word successful depends upon perception. For instance,a soldier who dies at war is deemed by others to be unsuccessful.Roy points out that it does not necassarily mean that the soldier is in any way unfulfilled.
The poetess highlights the word to-day to underline the presentness and transiency of the situation. Purple is the colour of royalty because the fine clothes/robes of kings and emperors were dyed purple; and also connotes blood. It was the trend that dynasties ruled over some countries .Being born to a royal family, one could never realize how difficult it was to achieve that position as it naturally came to them as a heirloom .Shakespeare said: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon em. (Twelfth Night Quote Act ii. Scene 5.)Of these,only those who achieve it comprehend its worth according to Dickinson. As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!
In the above lines, the poetess exemplifies the frenzy of success, that one loses consciousness in. He loses the ability to evaluate himself objectively. In such a context, the person who loses the battle and is dying can perceive it better. The dying mans ears are not forbidden. The figure of speech utilized here is a transferred epithet .Rather what is forbidden to his ears is the sound of success, as he belonged to the defeated side.
He is successful in that he can realize the futility of war, and the meaningless of success as the speaker in Wilfred Owens Strange Meeting does. The word strain in strains of triumphs may be used as a pun in the above phrase. Here,the victory may also be strained. The idea of distance and defeat is suggested by the alliteration of the d sound. Moreover, the one who is caught in the noise and fury of success cannot ,in fact hear its sound. The one who serenely lies away can perceive it better. It does not manifest itself subtly, but does Burst agonized and clear!
Rukhaya, M. (2012, October 07). Poetry analysis: Emily dickinsons success is counted sweetest. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/poetry-analysis-emily-dickinsons-success-counted-