ED uses the words "and then" in other poems as well -- to add a sense of immediacy and suspense, moment by moment unfolding of events. One of ED's greatest poems one that coming up for discussion soon -- "I heard a Fly Buzz" -- uses this device. Also "I felt a funeral in my Brain". I particularly like this present poem. Not that ED would have intended this, but it has a Buddhist flavor to it in its depiction of life as suffering.
A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘The Heart asks Pleasure first’
The heart asks pleasure first
The most obvious theme in the poem is that of pleasure vs pain, especially in love. The beginning of the poem begins by clearly stating that the Heart would like Pleasure. This seems to personify these objects, making them proper nouns. They seem to push the progression of the heart through a relationship and the emotions that the heart feels. Knowing that Dickinson was pious, one may think that the Inquisitor likely refers to God or some other higher power, which would make sense. In many religions, God is the one who can give such a powerful privilege as the one to die. Also, an intentional death is against many religions so one would need permission to die.
The Heart Asks Pleasure First- (The Piano) -Michael Nyman
This poem is really nice; and thanks for the interpretation. I'm relatively new to poetry, but I do like Dickinson's They shut me up in Prose. That's another one of her poems I like as well!! I'm a huge fan of Dickinson. I see this poem as about the life cycle, from starting out with a desire for pleasures to the suffering of aging, until finally meeting death.
And then — to go to sleep — And then — if it should be The will of its Inquisitor The liberty to die —. But, failing that, the heart will settle for being excused from pain, and to live a life without suffering pain. The Inquisitor — some religious figure who may call to mind the ultimate Inquisitor, God or Death — is the only one who can help us then.