I'm Nobody! Who are you?

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"I'm Nobody! Who are you?" is a short lyric poem by Emily Dickinson first published in 1891 in Poems, Series 2. It is one of Dickinson’s most popular poems.

Summary[edit]

The poem is composed of two quatrains, and, with an exception of the first line, the rhythm alternates between iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. The poem employs alliteration, anaphora, simile, satire, and internal rhyme but no regular end rhyme scheme. However, lines 1 and 2 and lines 6 and 8 end with masculine rhymes. The poet incorporates the pronouns you, we, us, your into the poem, and in doing so, draws the reader into the piece. The poem suggests anonymity is preferable to fame. It was first published in 1891 in Poems, Series 2, a collection of Dickinson’s poems assembled and edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.[1]

Text[edit]

Close transcription[2] First published version[3]

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Dont 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'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Critique[edit]

"I'm Nobody!" is one of Dickinson’s most popular poems, 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."[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "I’m Nobody! Who are You?: A Study Guide". Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ Fr#260 in: Franklin, R. W., ed. The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 1999.
  3. ^ Poem I.I (page 21) in: Higginson, T. W. & Todd, Mabel Loomis, ed. Poems by Emily Dickinson: Second Series. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1891.
  4. ^ Anna Priddy and Harold Bloom. 2008. Bloom's How to Write about Emily Dickinson. Infobase Publishing. pp. 103ff.