Emily Dickinson is a well known American poetry writer. She lived a very simplistic life but wrote many of her poems on questioning the nature of death. When reading many of her poems one may interpret Emily Dickinson’s poems through his or her life experience, allowing the reader to see the poem however they want to see it.
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Dickinson is also known for her writing style, the confusing and cryptic language she uses to describe her feelings in the poems she writes. The poem I will be analyzing will be “My life had stood – a Loaded Gun”. I found this poem to be the most difficult poem to decode yet once reread a couple of times one of the easiest poems to interpret. In Dickinson’s poem “My life had stood – a Loaded Gun” the author uses metaphors, irony, and personifications to further explain the many ways one can further carry out their anger.
In the poem “My life had stood – a Loaded Gun” there were many symbols used to further create the meaning behind the words that the author chose to use in this particular poem. To start off the author uses a gun to symbolize violence and power. For example the third stanza the “Vesuvian face” indicates the volcano erupting in Italy that had destroyed many Roman cities many years ago. Though the volcano erupting also can express the eruption of anger and violent behavior the author feels.
“The pleasure” and “Vesuvian face” are symbols that further describes the guns satisfaction when releasing the deadly bullets. Another symbol that the author used would be the “Thumb” that could be referred to as aggression and violent attack. For the last example of symbolism in this poem, it would be stanza 3 line 13. In line 13 we see both “Night” and “Day” contradicting to one another. As a reader we understand “Night” to be a symbol of death and “Day” to be a symbol of life. We understand the speaker of the poem is coming down to her final days and approaching death at that point.
Emily Dickinson has written this poem as an extended metaphor in which she defines in the first line of the poem as a “loaded gun”. The gun in the poem is not used in the first stanza until its owner sees it and takes it away with him. The gun is a symbol of power and violence. The gun is an extended metaphor in this poem because it speaks for the speaker power they hold when having a loaded gun.
The speakers can hunt with that loaded gun which makes her in power and dangerous. It is until the second stanza that the gun and its owner become very close. The second example of a metaphor the author used would be in stanza 2 line 6, “and now we hunt the doe” as readers we later find out that “hunt” is a metaphor for letting go of the anger that was suppressed by the speaker.
The tone of this poem is very dark. The poem is written in a somewhat riddle format which makes it difficult for the reader to understand at a first glance. The poem is darker due to the theme of violence within the poem. The speaker relation to violence and if the speaker would kill or what may kill her is what makes the tone of the poem so dark.
The desire to use a gun triggering the emotional violence she feels allows us, readers, to further understand the author meaning behind the play of words she decided to use in this poem. The violence that the poem is describing doesn’t necessarily mean the violence that would be seen and leave a visible scar on one’s body but the emotional violence the speaker felt inside.
In conclusion, Emily Dickinson uses figurative languages such as symbolism, metaphors, and tone to create an important understanding of the poem. Dickinson uses these figurative languages to explain her intention of how she felt. She also explained the reason why her life was similar to a loaded gun.
Although the poem “My life had stood – a Loaded Gun” by Emily Dickinson was difficult to understand and decode by the first read it was interesting as a reading trying to understand what the author tried to make sense of. What really interested me a while as a reader is how the speaker compares her life to a loaded gun and explained her reason too.