Faith is a Fine Invention Summary and Analysis by Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson is an American poet, who spent a large portion of her life in solitude. She lived in a house where she did not let any visitors, and came out to visit any. The only contact she established with anyone outside was her father and her sister-in-law. She wrote poems for them to express her views and her expressions. This poem here is one of her few scribbles that I am going to analyse critically, and provide a small summary deciphering the meaning.


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

This poem is a religious one, where Dickinson is speaking about faith and God. She is telling that faith is a blessing from God, which all men and women would see, when there are troubles and difficult times in their life. There are ample amount of ways and instances, which would show them how faith lives in our hearts, and how we have faith during the difficult times.

Faith-Rocks

The poet has used the balance of science and religion to express her thoughts in the poem. In this poem, she has used science as a tool to understand religion and its factor, and how humans use it to find the inhabitance of divinity around them. “Faith” is one of them, which she calls a “fine invention. She uses the scientific terms to just show how religion triumphs science, and science is only a smaller factor of the larger picture.

Critical Analysis of Faith is a Fine Invention

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Context: The poet, Emily Dickinson has written four lines on faith and religion. In short if we can say, this is another religious poem that she has written. In these four lines, she is trying to express that in the hard times there is faith that lives in our heart. But it is observed only when there are difficult times in our life. This is probably a small scribble of the poet, where she is trying to say that science cannot weigh or explain what human soul feels. The terms “microscopes” is a touch of science in her poem, where she has used it as a tool to see and realize that “faith” is around us. But it needs some external help or some external source to be seen and observed. The poet tries to combine the elements of science and religion by calling “Faith” a fine “invention”. Here she is giving more preference to faith over anything else.

Rhyming Scheme and Structure: The poem is a short one, as short as four lines. But there is still a rhyming scheme within these lines, which is a b c b.

There are some words starting with upper casing, this is because the poet wants us to focus on those words more.  For example:

“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—

This technique helps the poet to emphasise on the words she means to give the most attention, and helps the readers to understand the tonality of the poem. In this poem, there are many instances where the poet has used this technique. She has used this technique in almost all the poems that she has written, and has become a famous one amongst other poets too.

Theme: The theme in this poem is religion and positivity. The poet wants to tell that in difficult times, it is faith that keeps us going, and it is evident only when we observe carefully.

Deep Meaning: Deep meaning of this poem is that faith is a blessing of God, which keeps us going through the difficult times. We see an example of it in our life when we observe carefully.


6 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Limbani says

    Well,I’m impressed with the summary and analysis.

  2. Avatar
    Hannah says

    Thanks for this. I am not very good at interpreting poems. This gives me a few ideas of how I can start my own analysis for my project. Again thankyou so much and this link will be posted in my bibliography!

  3. Avatar
    Yuri Bong says

    I think this analysis interprets the poem in a favorable way towards religion, which may be a bit of a stretch when one considers how skeptical Emily Dickinson was of religion and faith in general.

  4. Avatar
    J says

    This analysis is a joke. It has nothing to do with relying on faith. Did you even read the last two lines? Come on, people. Emily disdained faith. Her point, in my analysis, is that faith is fine but when it comes down to trouble, we must rely on facts. When there is an emergency, we seek facts through a microscope (or other scientific tool), and if you want faith for the rest of the time, have at it.

  5. Avatar
    bt says

    This “analysis” is a perfect example of being so invested in seeing your pre-existing beliefs confirmed that you ignore what’s right in front of you. In fact, this “analysis” is the embodiment of exactly what Dickinson is criticizing.

  6. Avatar
    Dr. Mary Martin says

    I do not believe this is an accurate interpretation. The words “fine” and “invention” indicate man has made up faith. It is one of his precious inventions. When life gets difficult, she prefers to rely on science, not faith. Emily’s life choices and her tendency toward Transcendentalism would indicate she relied more on science than faith.

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