what do you think this poem means?? I need help badly!!

Discussion in 'Poetry' started by iscreamchocolate, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. iscreamchocolate

    iscreamchocolate Senior Member

    ok.. what do you personally think this poem means?? I need help on what it means for school... I know this is supposed to be in the poetry part but I'm already trying there too.. but I need help on this really badly...

    I'm Nobody! Who Are You?

    Poem lyrics of I'm Nobody! Who Are You? by Emily Dickinson.

    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 day
    To an admiring bog!
  2. kidder

    kidder Member

    Dickinson was a lifelong recluse and her poetry sometimes plays on this. Her view here is that to be nobody is preferable to being somebody. If you're somebody, you have all these mundane tasks to do that really, in sum, amount to nothing more than a day's labour for a frog in a bog. Better to be a nobody and relish the independence of anonymity.
  3. artful_dodger

    artful_dodger Member

    Also, once you are "somebody" you are bound by external definitions and expectations. The frog repeats the same identification all day.

    I love this poem, btw! Dickinson was so wonderful....
  4. PoetDude39

    PoetDude39 Member

    Actually, Dickinson was not a lifelong recluse. That's simply a part of the mad woman in the attic myth that has sadly hounded her for way too many years now. She was actually fairly "normal" up till the second half of her life. Was a good student, and even had a couple of close women friends (plus a crush or two on scholarly gentleman types!). Also, she very much wanted to be published during her lifetime, and sent out her poems for inspection. But she was too ahead of her time. And only a few poems made it into print. So some critics think she was feeling especially disappointed and frustrated by the literary world's inability to recognize her genius (her great fame is entirely posthumous), and she even wrote a few poems about this. I believe "I'm Nobody" is one.

    She is being rather tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic here. She is basically letting all the clueless editors and such that had rejected her poems know that she doesn't mind being anonymous. That there is an odd kind of comfort in being a nobody. I mean, you don't have to worry about how you look. Or what you say. Or how you say it. Because there is a kind of great dishonesty that goes along with fame: Nodding and smiling at all those admiring faces in public! When you'd much rather just be your usual sloppy self, perhaps reading a book in bed, and not have to look good and perform for those that have defined you as such. I hope some of this helps.



    P.S. There's a really cool series all about poets: Voices and Visions. Emily Dickinson was one of the poets they featured, and most libraries have it on video. It is an excellent introduction to both her poetry and her life.
  5. kidder

    kidder Member

    Poetdude, excellent addition! Dickinson is an original. Tough to do in any period.
  6. I think that since Dickinson basically isolated herself from the outside world, she may have had low self-esteem. But also, I think she enjoyed being by herself and not being "important" because, if you look around these days, you see all these articles about celebrities and whatever which end up not being true, and these rumors can ruin lives. I tend to isolate myself like Dickinson did, and sometimes it seems to be much more difficult because I have a social phobia and a lot of times I believe other people are better than me and I am afraid to talk to people because I think they won't care about anything I say or do. Then again, I enjoy all that alone time because I don't want everyone knowing every little thing about me and making up rumors just to make themselves look important. I like my privacy.
  7. kidder

    kidder Member

    Well, a person who enjoys their own company will never be without a friend. I like privacy too but I also love to be out there. And interesting- don't start a rumour- I enjoy talking to myself. And the great 'who are you?' is a wonderful conversation breaker!
  8. Rafaela

    Rafaela Member

    this poem was actually inspired when emily saw a poet signing books and reigning in complete fame. She felt very repulsed by how he basked in such lime light when poetry was (to her) something truly personal. This poem reflects her disatisfaction of these famed feuled artists.

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