Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

An Analysis of "My life had stood-" College

Emily Dickinson uses the power of metaphor and symbolism in her poem "My Life had stood-" to express the way she felt about herself as a poet in a time when women were allowed far less independent thought and freedom of expression; she gives her readers a painfully honest confession of the sacrifices she believed she had to make to be the artist she was. The structure, word choice, and symbolism in the poem work elegantly to translate her internal conflict to paper and to speak to her readers of how she sacrificed her identity as a woman in order to effectively unleash the creativity within her. The artistic authority denied her by society, because she was a woman, is somehow granted to her in the act of submitting to her inner male, her “owner” and “master”.

The poem consists of six quatrains and follows a rhythmic pattern quite common in her writing. The first and last stanzas are the only ones that have a solid rhyming pattern, ABCB, and the third and fourth contain slant rhymes, also ABCB. She is precise in making her points and does not use anymore words than she feels necessary; she is on-target and to the point, yet powerful and effective in her execution. She speaks to the reader directly; in a concise and...

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