Literary Analysis and Methods

Course blog for Stockton's LAM/ILS courses

Emily Dickinson Poetry: Poem Analysis 260

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I’m Nobody: Who are you?

Are you- Nobody- too?

Then there’s a pair of us

Don’t tell! they’d advertise-you know!


How dreary- to be- Somebody!

How public- like a Frog-

To tell one’s name- the livelong June

To an admiring Bog!


This first line of the poem is very interesting because the narrator is defining themselves through nothing. “No body” breaks down in to the absence of a physical form. The tone of the poem is almost a conversation between the Narrator of Nobody and someone else not named. This is almost a way for nothingness to have a voice, so even without a form the nothing has a voice which is something. In the second line Nobody asks if we- the reader- are Nobody too. Nobody goes on to say that if we answer that we are nobody too then we are not alone because then we are two of nobody. This could be a development of a society. Two of the same bonding together to form a clique of nothing. An additional thought that come to my mind is that this could be also a parallel of race or any underprivileged minority banding together. A minority is does have as much pull in society until it bands with other minorities to overthrow the majority. Since this poem was written during the Civil War, which was about defending the minority (African slaves) and giving them a voice, the influence of the Civil War could be coming though in this poem. In the fourth line, Nobody starts to enforce a rule not to advertise the existence of the Nobodies. Once a Nobody is know, does it cease to be a nobody and if fact becomes a Somebody? Somebody is becoming known and having expectations based on being Somebody. This is clearly not desired by the Narrator. This next line, the sixth one gave me a lot of trouble and I had to think on it. How is a frog public? I think it is because a frog can be very vocal and that is how it is found by it’s mate and by others. You can hear a frog a lot more often before you ever see it. But a small creature having that strong of a voice can be made also known to it’s predators and perhaps that is what Nobody is trying to avoid. If one vocalizes oneself then you become known to your enemies as well as your friends. “the Live-long June to an admiring Bog!” I think just reflects again the frogs and June is the time of the year that they are most vocal because they are searching for a mate. However, this is countering that Nobody find each other by staying silent together.


Written by killergirl03

April 11, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Dickinson Poetry

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