Comment 17 of 165, added on October 22nd, 2005 at 9:43 PM.
As of typical Dickinson poems, this one too has no title. “You love me –
you are sure –“ is a relatively short and concise poem of the narrator
seeking for her lover’s confirmation of his love for her. The repetition of
the phrase “you’re sure” stresses the narrator’s painful insecurity towards
her lover’s love. The poem is comprised of one stanza with seven lines and
two sestets, having approximately six syllables on each line, although the
second last line has seven, and the fourth and the last line has four each.
The poem has dominant iambic trimeter, except for the fourth and last lines
in the first stanza, which are dimeters. The rhyme scheme throughout the
whole poem is uncertain. In the first stanza, it is mainly true rhyme, with
the rhyme scheme as ABBCDDC. The second and third stanzas have mainly slant
rhymes such as ‘know’, ‘grown’ and ‘now’, ‘so’. The second stanza’s rhyme
scheme is ABCDDC, and the third is ABBACC.
The tone of the poem is one of uncertainty and questioning. It progresses
from fake certainty to apparent appeal for assurance. The reason I say fake
certainty is because although the first two stanzas start with “you are
sure”, “I shall not fear” and “I need not start”, the narrator then
proceeds to comfort herself by saying that she shall not find “the Sunrise
left – And Orchards – unbereft—“ and “the windows dark”. This proves she
has been pondering the situation for a long time, imagining what it’d be if
her lover left. However, when it comes to the third stanza, she finally
confronts her suspicions and questions her lover upfront, asking him to
“just tell me so”.
The narrator uses household imagery, garden plants, flowers and the sun to
illustrate what the idea of comfort and security. When her lover is not
sure of his love, the sunrise will leave, the windows will be dark, the
house will be empty, and Dollie will be gone. She uses these to describe
what it’d be like if her lover was gone, because these were all that were
dear to Emily Dickinson, the poet. All her life she had lived in her
father’s house and garden, never leaving the house at all. So by using
nature and her home to describe her lover’s absence, it shows to us how
very dear to her his certainty of his love is.
The word “cheated” in the first stanza hints a connotation of an affair.
She’s trying to convince herself that she shall not make a mistake and wake
up being cheated to a “grinning” morning. She hopes that he day shall not
mock her of her innocence and ignorance. Somehow, the narrator knows her
lover doesn’t actually love her. That’s why she’s telling her lover to
simply tell her the truth, and at the same time she’s also preparing
herself for his heart-breaking words. This is why she says in the third
stanza, “I’ll bear it better now— If you’ll just tell me so—“, it’s because
she’s already hurting and doubting. However, she also says that, if he
doesn’t tell her, her doubt and hurt will start to heal and she will trust
in him. Then, if it is at that moment he decides to tell her, his words
will sting, again. “Again” confirms our suspicion that she’s been hurt
before, which also explains her preparedness.
Adhering to the style of most other Emily Dickinson poems, this poem also
has a wide used of capitalization of stressed words, and dashes between
lines. In this particular poem, capitalized words are not many, and they
mostly seem to refer to a person, or a virtue. “Dollie”, as seen in the
context, mostly refers to her lover. At the end of the first two stanzas,
the narrator repeats “and Dollie gone”, hinting his possible departure from
her life. “Orchards” would mostly mean herself, as they would be “unbereft”
if “Sunrise”, which refers also to her lover, leaves. Therefore, even
though her lover leaves, she would be left behind. This also slightly hints
her dependence towards her lover, because an orchard cannot live without
the sun. Slowly trusting and healing over time, “dull Balm” would most
probably be a metaphor of her hurting recovery and numb feelings.
This poem is one of hurt and insecurity. The narrator has been hurt more
than once, and is trying to comfort herself at first, but ends up
questioning. The only wish for her is a confirmation of her lover’s love,
and that he’ll never leave again, because she cannot live without him.
However, because of his unfaithfulness towards her, she resolves to write
this sincere bittersweet appeal to him.