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Emily Dickinson- 'I'm Nobody- Who Are You?' Summary and Analysis.

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Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson- Greatest poet that once was a "Nobody"

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet, little-known during her lifetime, but now considered as one of the most influential personalities in American poetry. Dickinson was born into a distinguished family in Amherst, Massachusetts, with significant links to the community. Her poems and writings have feelings and aroma that you can cull up just by reading her words.

The poem "I'm Nobody, who are you?" in itself is one of the most read and known poems of her written in the mid-19th century. The rhythm of the poem is between iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, with the exception of the first line. The poem uses satirical puns to target the somebodies in the society using Alliteration, anaphora, simile, satire, and internal rhyme. Dickinson weaves the pronouns you, we, us, and your within the poem, effectively drawing the reader in. Anonymity, according to poetry, is better than celebrity. Poetry, Series 2, a collection of Dickinson's poems compiled and edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, was first published in 1891.

Harold Bloom writes:-

because it addresses “a universal feeling of being on the outside." It is a poem about "us against them"; it challenges authority (the somebodies), and "seduces the reader into complicity with its writer."- Wikipedia

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!

Summary and analysis.

The poem begins with the author declaring, "I'm nobody," and questioning, "Who are you?" Because Emily Dickinson had an incognito life, she regards herself as a mere nobody, believing that being a nobody is preferable to being somebody.

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"Are you nobody too?" she asks us again. She's interested in her readers and whether they appreciate anonymity as much as she does, and she adds a pleasant remark, "then there's a pair of us," implying that there are more individuals in the world who prefer anonymity than being somebody. If we evaluate this poem critically, we can see how she used it to depict the state of authors and women in the mid-nineteenth century, when most writers, especially women writers, stayed anonymous due to widespread misogyny. Furthermore, she warns her reader not to tell anyone about it for fear that "they'd advertise" and make the world aware of it, making her a nobody like everyone else.

This line also expresses her terror for her father, who was a well-known figure in society and would never allow her to publish poems. Dickinson even addresses her reader as - You know-, implying that she considers her reader to be someone who has experienced the calmness of being a nobody.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

How dreary – to be – Somebody!

How public – like a Frog –

To tell one’s name – the livelong June –

To an admiring Bog!

Second Stanza

Emily Dickinson describes the dreariness of being someone who constantly croaks about their presence like a "Frog," a slimy and drab frog who is liked by "Nobody", in the second verse.

She displays her paranoia by informing us readers that if she becomes someone like a "frog," she will only be able to announce her name "to an admiring bog" (an area where frogs reside) to whom no one pays attention or listens. She claims that she prefers being alone and a "nobody" to merely telling a "bog" her name. She compares croaking people to frogs, warning us that no matter how many kisses they receive, they will never become princes. The bog is the only location they know, and they relish being "someone" only there.

We can also deduce from this text that she is referring to renowned individuals of her period as frogs because they only come out for one season and croak about their existence. Emily Dickinson, on the other hand, aspires to be present in all seasons, which she does by being a "Nobody', thus an evergreen poet.

Famous people are like frogs, no matter how many kisses they get they'll never turn into a prince.

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