Emily Dickinson: I’m Nobody! Who are you?


[  # 76 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

Emily Dickinson

This is the third in a Monday sequence of poems, by three very different poets,but all of which have been composed as soul-searching expressions of the sense of self or the search for the same.

This is one of Emily Dickinson’s most quoted poems, short and to the point, in which she takes a more positive, if seemingly down-beat, stance on the subject.

Its memorable opening lines, grab the reader’s interest with their boldness and certainty.

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!

I think she is revelling in the fact that she is not well-known as a poet.  She, in fact, is enjoying her anonymity.  Apart from a very few, her poems were not published until after she died, and the freedom which this gave her from the publicity and pressures which fame can bring, she greatly valued.  So very different from the uncertainties and lack of self-esteem from which both John Clare and Sylvia Plath suffered.

 

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14 thoughts on “Emily Dickinson: I’m Nobody! Who are you?

  1. I am enjoying this series and thread of poems Roland. It seems to be a trait of poets from many years ago that their fame came well after their death. How would they have coped in the modern age with social media, where fame is not only for the famous?

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  2. Thank you Roland for this intriguing poem, it puzzles me as to why she wrote it if she
    hadn’t yet tasted fame. Not many poets reach the dizzy heights of fame of the stars in music and some genres in literature.
    Or was Emily Dickerson just having some fun with this poem.
    miriam

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    • Well … she was much more confident in her self-image than either John Clare or Sylvia Plath. Perhaps not worrying, as she claim she does not, about claiming renown and even acknowledgement for her poetic talents, helped her to be much more content with her lot. Thank you for commenting, Miriam.

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