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"I had been hungry all the years" by Emily Dickinson

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kristen misbrener

on 25 October 2013

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Transcript of "I had been hungry all the years" by Emily Dickinson

"I had been hungry all the years" by Emily Dickinson
A Quick Biography of Dickinson's Life
-Born in Amherst, Massachusetts
Diving Into the Psychology of the Poem
I had been hungry all the years
My noon had come, to dine;
I, trembling, drew the table near
And touched the curious wine

Making Connections
-Nancy Chodorow: "Girls. . .feel more connected to world" as result of ability to identify/connect with their mothers (Lynn 214).
The Poem:

I HAD been hungry all the years;
My noon had come, to dine;
I, trembling, drew the table near,
And touched the curious wine.

’T was this on tables I had seen,
When turning, hungry, lone,
I looked in windows, for the wealth
I could not hope to own.

I did not know the ample bread,
’T was so unlike the crumb
The birds and I had often shared
In Nature’s dining-room.

The plenty hurt me, ’t was so new,—
Myself felt ill and odd,
As berry of a mountain bush
Transplanted to the road.

Nor was I hungry; so I found
That hunger was a way
Of persons outside windows,
The entering takes away.
[A Psychological Analysis]
-Father: Edward Dickinson, Mother: Emily Norcross Dickinson
-Mother was not prominent in Emily's life, not "emotionally accessible"
-Dickinson had "irreverent sensibilities", did not follow accepted norms in community
-Wealthy family, respected in society
-Dickinson became reclusive around 1862
-Saw "deprivation as a way of sensitizing herself to the value of what she was missing"
-Died May 15, 1886
-Speaker "hungry" for a long time ("years")
-Chance to "dine" after such a long wait should be relieving
-Instead, speaker is "trembling" with fear
-Experiencing Freud's
repression
of emotion
-Speaker "touches" the "curious wine"
-Afraid to actually drink from the glass, nourish herself

-"Hunger" felt by the speaker could symbolize the feelings of loneliness and seclusion that Dickinson herself had constantly felt for "many years"
-Displacement: Dickinson shifts painful feelings of hunger for human connection less threatening feeling of hunger for sustenance
T'was this on tables I had seen
When turning, hungry, lone
I looked in windows for the wealth
I could not hope to own.
-Directly addresses loneliness of speaker/herself
-"Hungry" for human contact, admiring "wealth" of others
-However: Dickinsons are a wealthy family
-Dickinson may be in
denial
of her actual situation
-
Repressing
an actual emotional need, feels "poor" compared to others as result

I did not know the ample bread,
T'was so unlike the crumb
The birds and I had often shared
In Nature's dining-room
-Dickinson speaks in quantities, as if speaker/she herself never has enough of some entity
-Does not know how to handle large amount of "bread"
-Only experiences "crumbs"
-Even shares these "crumbs" with "birds"
-Likening herself to an animal, undeserving of a full portion
The plenty hurt me, 't was so new
Myself felt ill and odd,
As berry of a mountain bush
Transplanted to the road
-More
repression
of emotion: "hurt" by the "plenty" instead of fulfilled
-Feels "ill and odd"
-Uses simile to compare herself to a "berry of a mountain bush"
-Figuratively feels that she has been crudely transplanted
-Simile could be symbolic of Dickinson's alienation
Nor was I hungry; so I found
That hunger was a way
Of persons outside windows
The entering takes away
-Dickinson uses
intellectualization
to explain away her figurative "hunger"
-Symbolically states that "hunger" is felt by people who want for things

disenchanted when they receive them
-Settles for deprivation; imaginative image of world then stays intact
-Dickinson uses "hunger" as an extended metaphor for her need for emotional contact
-Emotional connection=repressed need that Dickinson has never been familiar with


-Result of strained relationship with her mother early on in Dickinson's life
-Dickinson has an inability to feel connected to the world, or quench the "hunger" for it that she feels
-"Hunger" for an emotional connection with her mother has not been fulfilled this
repressed
need taints interactions with her society
-Throughout poem: cannot understand how to handle human contact/connection


-Dickinson's repressed desire for an emotional connection with her mother translates to her repressed desire for a connection to the world.
Summing It All Up
-Dickinson prefers deprivation from human contact because it is reliable and constant--unlike the unpredictable emotional connection with her mother, and consequently, with the rest of her society.
Works Cited
Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts.
Glenview, IL: Pearson Education Inc, 2011. Print.
Myers, Michael. Biography of Emily Dickinson
(1830-1866). English Department, Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University. Web. 22 Oct. 2013. http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/ED303/emilybio.html.
Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. Emily Dickinson. Da
Capo Press, 1988. Google Book Search. Web. 22 Oct. 2013. http://books.google.com/books?id=kdwaEa6Cem4C&dq=emily+dickinson's+relationship+with+her+mother&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
Full transcript