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American poetess Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson


? If I read a book and it

makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. ? ---- Emily Dickinson

? Eventless life: stayed quietly at home, the

last 25 years in total seclusion. ? Only few of her poems published when she was alive. ? 1,800 poems ? Poems by Emily Dickinson in 1890

? Never married
? Intellectual companionship with several

men, one of whom she loved, but a married one, she wrote to him for ten years.

Pre-class Questions
?Can anyone explain why it might

be important to know about the life of a poet before exploring his or her poetry?


It is important because most of what a poet writes is reflective of their own lives, regardless of whether or not they are the speaker in the poem. In order to fully grasp the concepts the poet is presenting, it is essential to understand the background of the poet.)

Characteristics of the Author
? family oriented
? isolated ? lonely ? longing for happiness ? not publicly recognized

? She was one of American literature's most

reclusive figures. Apart from one trip to Philadelphia, one trip to Washington D.C., and a few trips into Boston, Dickinson spent almost her entire 56 years in her hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. After she turned 40, she never left the boundaries of her family's property in Amherst.

? This unusual life helped Dickinson to feel a

bond with people who see themselves as being outsiders and unimportant. Yet, to think of her as a friendless hermit would be incorrect. In fact, the poet had a small number of intense and lasting friendships. These important relationships demonstrate the main idea expressed in "I'm Nobody": Companionship is the best remedy for a feeling of exclusion.

Characteristics of Dickinson’s Poems
? Feeling of deepest poignancy (辛酸) in

terms of wit; ? Her poems are short, fresh original. ? Images, bravery of thought, the beauty of expression ? She wrote in conventional form ? Did not always observe the rules

? Somebody & Nobody ? Something & Nothing ? In college (7 months because of her weakness),

her teacher Mary Lyons classified students into: ? The hopers: those who expressed hope of accepting Christ ? The Christians: those who had accepted Christ ? The non-hopers: Dickinson was one.

? During a school assembly Mary Lyons requested

that all of those who wanted to be Christians rise. With the pressure exerted from the school's president all the students did eventually stand, except one. Emily explained: "they thought it queer I didn't rise...I thought a lie would be queerer."

“I am Nobody”
?Stanza I. 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.

?Stanza II. How dreary to be somebody! How public, like a frog To tell you name the livelong June To an admiring bog沼泽,泥塘!


The poem's first stanza tells how the speaker meets a fellow "nobody" — a friend. Together, the two nobodies can enjoy each other's company and their shared anonymity. As a pair, they aren't really nobodies anymore. That's why the speaker says, "Don't tell! / They 'd banish us, you know." She understands that once you have another "nobody" at your side, you aren't really a "nobody" anymore. And she doesn't want to be banished or kicked out from what she sees as a society of nobodies.


In the second stanza, the tone of the poem changes. The speaker sounds confident. Perhaps it is her discovery that there are other people like her — other "nobodies"-that makes her feel strongly that being a "somebody" isn't such a great idea. ? She realizes that having a friend who understands you and accepts you as you are is more important than being admired by a lot of people or being in the "in" crowd.

? I'm nobody ! Who are you?

我是个无名之辈,你是谁? Are you nobody too? 你也是,也是个无名之辈? Then there's a pair of us---don't tell! 那么着就有了一对----不要声张! They'd banish us, you know. 你知道,他们容不得我俩

? How dreary to be somebody!

做个名人是好不无聊! How public like a frog 声名多大,像青蛙一样, To tell your name the livelong day 在漫长的六月里不停的鼓噪, To an admiring bog! 把名字向仰慕的池塘宣扬!

? 1.Who are the “pair of us” and “they” in this

poem? ? 2.What does “an admiring bog” really mean? ? 3.What is the theme of this poem? ? 4.Do you want to be “nobody” or “somebody”? Explain your reasons.

? It's because frogs make a lot of noise. The poem

says that frogs, though they can croak and make themselves heard and be noticed, are noticed only by "an admiring bog." The bog is the frog's environment, not the frog's friend. So who cares what the bog thinks? ? That's what the poem says about being a "somebody" who gets noticed by an admiring public. Frequently, the relationship is impersonal and distanced, not like a real friendship. Somebodies may have many admirers, but they might not be able to make those personal connections that real friendship offers.

Success Is Counted Sweetest
? Stanza 1 ? Success is counted sweetest ? By those who ne’er suceed.

? To comprehend a nectar甘露;神酒
? Requires sorest need.

? Stanza 2 ? Not one of all the purple host ? Who took the flag today

? Can tell the definition,
? So clearly, of victory.

? Stanza 3 ? As he, defeated, dying, ? On whose forbidden ear

? The distant strains of triumph
? Burst, agonized and clear.

? 1.What’s the theme of the poem? ? 2.What’s the implied meaning of the first 2

lines in stanza 1? ? 3.What does success mean to the victorious soliders in stanza 2? ? 4. What does success mean to a defeated, dying solider in stanza 3?

? In this poem, Emily Dickinson writes about how people

who live their life without achievement long to succeed in some manner. She makes note of how people with success often don't appreciate what they are able to accomplish in lines one and two: "Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed." Dickinson then focuses her attention on the field of battle where people fought over trivial goals. By taking over land and placing their flag high, they became proud of their accomplishments even though they had acquired only land. In the final quatrain, Dickinson switches roles and speaks on behalf of the dying man, who hears the victorious celebrate.

? To him, defeat is the loss of his life. The

poem causes the reader to think about what success and failure are all about. To the man dying on the field of battle, merely living would have been a success beyond all measures. Instead, the men celebrating victory are those who captured a piece of earth.

? Dickinson uses each quatrain to relate a different

perspective of success and need. In the first, she introduces how those who long for something they never have achieve a greater thrill of achievement than somebody who had the same thing the deprived sought for all along. In the second quatrain, she discusses the victorious soldiers who acquired something seemingly irrelevant to their existence. This thought is correlated in the final quatrain when the tragedy and longing of the wounded is revealed. The varying levels of needs and desires and loss are dramatically juxtapositioned and revealed.

? The main theme of this poem is that only the

person seeking the final goal oftentimes defines success. To different people there are different levels of winning and losing, and what is held high and mighty to one might be irrelevant and inconsequential to another.

? 从未成功的人们 ? 最能懂得成功的甜美 ? 惟有极度的渴求

? 方能体会甘露的滋味

? 身着紫袍的王者之师 ? 虽显耀一时 ? 又有谁能说清楚

? 胜利的确切含义

? 只有弥留之际的挫败者 ? 凯歌声虽已渐行渐远 ? 掠过他的耳际却犹是

? 那般痛彻而清晰!

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death”

Stanza I.
Because I Could Not Stop for Death— He kindly stopped for me— The carriage held but just ourselves— And immortality.

Stanza II. We slowly drove—He knew no haste And had put away My labor and my leisure too, For his civility礼貌— We passed the school, where children strove At recess休息—in the ring— We passed the fields of Gazing Grain_ We passed the setting sun_

Stanza III. Or rather_he passed US— The dews drew quivering and chill— For only gossamer(薄纱), my gown My tippet(披肩)_only Tulle(薄纱)—

Stanza IV. We paused before a house that seemed A swelling of the ground— The root was scarcely visible— The cornice(檐)—in the Ground—

? Stanza V ? Since then 'tis centuries; but each

Feels shorter than the day I first surmised the horses' heads Were toward eternity.

?Death is personified as a

gentleman caller or suitor (求婚者) ?Is Death a kind, polite suitor? ?The drive symbolizes her leaving life: She progresses from childhood, maturity
(the "gazing grain" is ripe) and the setting (dying) sun to her grave.

?"passed" is repeated four times in

stanzas three and four ?They are "passing" by the children and grain, both still part of life. ?They are also "passing" out of time into eternity.

?The sun passes them as the sun

does everyone who is buried. ?With the sun setting, it becomes dark, in contrast to the light of the preceding stanzas.

?It also becomes damp and cold

("dew grew quivering and chill"), in contrast to the warmth of the preceding stanza.

?Also the activity of stanza three

contrasts with the inactivity of the speaker in stanzas four and five. They pause at the grave. ?What is the effect of describing it as a house?

?In the final stanza, the speaker has

moved into death; the language becomes abstract; in the previous stanzas the imagery was concrete and specific.

?Why does Dickinson change from

past tense to present tense with the verb "feels" (line 2, stanza 6)? Does eternity have an end?

Here the speaker is excluded from activities and involvement in life; ? the poet of exclusion.

? 因为我不能停下来等待死神

他和善地停下来等我—— 那辆车只能容我们两个—— 还有不朽。

我们慢慢驱车——他不慌不忙 我也把我的劳与闲 统统丢掉一边, 为了他的礼让——

? 我们走过校园,孩子们你推我搡,

在休息时间,在圆形广场—— 我们走过在田间凝眸的麦杆—— 我们走过落日旁——
? 或毋宁说,他走过我们身旁

寒露降,身子冻得打颤—— 因为我的长衫落纱般—— 我的披肩如丝网——

? 我们停步在一所房子前,

那似乎是隆起的土地一片 屋顶几乎看不见—— 屋檐在地里面——
? 离那时已是几个世纪

过了还不到一天, 我首次猜测到,马头 在朝向永恒奔窜。

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