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My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun

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Melanie Otte

on 25 March 2011

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Transcript of My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods-
And now We hunt the Doe-
And every time I speak for Him-
The Mountains straight reply- And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow-
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through- And when at Night-Our good Day done-
I guard My Master's Head-
'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
Deep Pillow-to have shared-
To foe of His-I'm deadly foe-
None stir the second time-
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye-
Or an emphatic Thumb- Though I than He-may longer live
He longer must-than I-
For I have but the power to kill,
Without-the power to die- My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun-
In Corners-till a Day
The owners passed-identified-
And carried Me away- My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun
Figurative Language Metaphors:
"My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun-"
Dickinson compares herself to a loaded gun.

"The Owner passed-identified-/And carried Me away"
The "owner" of the gun, is her writing, and allows her freedom of expression. She is saying that like a loaded gun, she has always had potential and power within her. She was built up, ready, and only a little nudge could set her off.
Then, she goes on to say that she has been "in corners" for her entire life, enclosed, not knowing how to set herself free. That is, until the "owners" passed and set her free. She refers to her writing as the owner of the gun. "We" consists of gun and owner or in other words, her thought and ability to express those thoughts work together to "hunt the Doe" - the weak links of society. Everytime the gun is fired, the power of the sound is echoed back by the mountains. When the gun smiles, or is directed at something, and fires, it fires with such immense power as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Once, Dickinson begins to express her point of view, her voice will not be able to be diminished. The gun's master, her writing, is guarded at night. She is saying that she values her writing very much and finds more value in her ability to express her opinion than having a soft place to lay her head at night. Society, that is against her views and writing has become her enemy just as she has become theirs. Once she has gone against society's beliefs the first time, by standing up for what she believes in, she's saying that they won't dare to try and tear her down again. Her work has the strength and power to live on longer than she has the ability to. And her vision for her writing is that it will continue to express the same message that she wished to spread while alive. She is saying she has the power to kill ideas of society through her writing without having to have her ideas die with her. Theme Power Dickinson metaphor throughout the entire poem comparing her life to a loaded gun illustrates the idea of power. Her power lies within her words and how she chooses to support her views through her actions. She is also trusting in the power of her words to carry on the intended message after she has passed on. Personification:
"The Moutains straight reply"

The gun and master - power and writing are given human qualities throughout the poem. Simile:
"It is as a Vesuvian face/ Had let its pleasure through-" Through the use of figurative language, the reader becomes more attentive to the symbols and the power they represent. By comparing the her writing and voice to larger and more powerful things such as a mountain, gun, and a volcano, the strength of her message about the power of her voice is broadcasted much stronger. It also helps the reader picture these images in the mind which creates a strong impression about what she is trying to get across. Sound Devices Capitalization, Punctuation & Form Written in "ballad meter" which is characterized by four-line stanzas. The first and third lines of the stanza are in iambic tetrameter and the second and fourth lines are in iambic trimeter.
This form gives the poem a smooth flow to transition between lines and stanzas throughout the poem. The dashes create contribute to the point of view, seeming as though a person were speaking. The dashes are placed when a person would naturally pause. Words are capitalized to add more emphasis to them. Together, they illustrate the main topics of the poem and by sticking out from the rest are able to hold greater importance to the reader. Rhyme Scheme Perfect rhyme dominates this poem. There isn't a specific pattern, however.
Examples of perfect rhyme:

Examples of slant rhyme:
head-shared This rhyme scheme gives the poem a more freeing tone. It is not held under restrictions and therefore illustrates that her writing can't be held down by society. Alliteration
"My Life had stood-a Loaded Gun-"
Repition of "d" sound at the end of words.

"And when at Night-"
Repetition of "t" sound at the end of words. Consonance "Our good Day done-"
Repetition of "d" at the beginning of day and done.

"...My Master's Head-" The rythmic pattern flows together and create stronger power together, just as Dickinson's writing and opinion had to work together. Relation to Dickinson's Life Shut away from society both by choice and order, she strove to express her opinions. She did this through writing and was able to firmly stay true to her beliefs and stood up against society in this way. How can the sense of power be affected based on how society views your beliefs? If society's views differ from your own how might your views be strengthened or weakened? What makes a person's message or views live on after their death? Is power determined while alive or after, and how do they differ?
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