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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‘I Am’ by Sylvia Plath

[  # 75 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

SylviaPlath



‘I took a deep breath

and listened to the old brag of my heart:

I am,

I am,

I am.’


 

Today’s offering is not, strictly speaking a poem.  It is a very short, one sentence, quotation from theThe Bell Jar’, (written under the pseudonym, ‘Victoria Lucas’), the only novel ever written by the American poet, Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide, aged 30, shortly after its publication in 1963.

I am using it today as its introspection does mirror that of John Clare, whose ‘I Am’ verses I featured a week ago.  Both Clare and Plath were troubled beings, suffering for long periods of their lives from severe mood swings and depression.

In this one sentence from her novel, Sylvia Plath, cries out with similar force to that which John Clare was expressing in his poem, for the self-belief and recognition which both felt had eluded them . . .  ‘I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows?’ 

 

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