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Analysis and comments on I dreaded that first Robin, so, by Emily Dickinson

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Comment 25 of 215, added on April 16th, 2008 at 7:58 PM.

What makes the death/grieving the best interpretation is that she calls
herself the "Queen of Calvary." Calvary is defined as 1 : an open-air
representation of the crucifixion of Jesus 2 : an experience of usually
intense mental suffering (MW dictionary). Essentially she is referring to
herself as the Queen of Death, hence why spring (symbolizing life) hurts
her.

In the first and second stanzas, the first spring (signaled by the robin's
appearance and "pianos in the woods," birds) is depicted as painful to the
speaker, who has just lost someone to death. She is afraid of meeting these
blatant symbols of life. Her admission that "he hurts a little though"
reveal that her grief has not completely dissolved; her powerlessness to
stem the coming of spring (shown by her weary statement "they're here,
though") also relate this same emotion.

So, as time and nature continue to march on to their "unthinking drums,"
the speaker is forced to acknowledge that life must go on.

nm from United States
Comment 24 of 215, added on February 24th, 2008 at 2:43 PM.

I think Emily Dickinson is talking bollocks.

Whats she mean by "not all pianos in the woods?"

Nathan Goodfirend
Comment 23 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:27 AM.

I think Emily based this poem on her own life -specificaly her comming to
terms with death. She had many deaths early on in her life which affected
her greatly.
She thought if she could get past 'that first shout' (of someone dying) it
would become easier, and it has done even though He(Death) still 'hurts a
litle' everytime he comes.
I love the way she inverts the classic notion of spring representing life
and new begginings to represent death, especially the daffodils which i
picture to be daffodils planted on the graves of those she loved.

Jo from United Kingdom
Comment 22 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:14 AM.

I think Emily Dickinson is talking about marriage; she personifies the
robin as a man perhaps. 'But he is mastered now' could mean that she is
accepting the fact that she is married and she has to live with it, similar
to the marriage vows "till death do us part". Emily is saying that she is
dedicated to her husband and that she feels that he owns her, she is
‘accustomed to him grown' means that she owes him her body and the right to
take her virginity. She says that she 'dare not meet the daffodils', maybe
meaning that she dare not look at other men as it is a sin now that she is
married. She fears that being married will change her and it will be an
irrevocable change that can not be changed.

Careena from United Kingdom
Comment 21 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:26 AM.

At first glance i think emily's poems look interesting but look very
complicated. Then once you break the poems down and look deeper into them
one realises how amazing they are and how much meaning she put into every
word.
I think this poem is truly amazing. Although it can be interpretated in
many ways i feel that the main interpreation is of a sexual nature.

number 1 fan! from Iraq
Comment 20 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:15 AM.

The comment made by 'mg' of the United States interests me. Although I
agree that the poem highlights Dickinson's fear of change, I think it may
stem from a worry deeper than just relationships. It could be interpretted
that Dickinson uses the symbols of spring and nature to highlight time
passing- a notion she is scared of as it brings about death and a sense of
lonliness, both of which haunted Dickinson throughout her life. It could,
therefore, be believed that Dickinson inverts the common idea of spring to
in fact draw upon the thought that the passing of time is a negative thing,
but not solely in terms of relationships.

J to the Bizzle from Peru
Comment 19 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:18 AM.

This poem can be interpreted in many different ways, but I think Emily
Dickinson personifies the "robin" as being a man and the poem is
reminiscent of a developing relatiionship. Emily does not seem prepared for
the relationship and she writes that he is "mastered" perhaps revealing a
man and wife relationship where the man has the upper hand. I also think
that this poem reflects a natural cycle, e.g. the forming of relationships
and the loss of her virginity. In this poem it seems she is afraid of
change-"i dared not meet the daffodils" as if she does not want to except
the change of season reflecting perhaps her change of relationshiip with a
man. I think the loss of Emily's virginity is something that is apparant
within the poem and the nature reflects fertilisation and perhaps
pregnancy, something Emily seems afraid of.

Me from United Kingdom
Comment 18 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:14 AM.

I think Emily Dickinson is talking about marriage; she personifies the
robin as a man perhaps. 'But he is mastered now' could mean that she is
accepting the fact that she is married and she has to live with it, similar
to the marriage vows "till death do us part". Emily is saying that she is
dedicated to her husband and that she feels that he owns her, she is
‘accustomed to him grown' means that she owes him her body and the right to
take her virginity. She says that she 'dare not meet the daffodils', maybe
meaning that she dare not look at other men as it is a sin now that she is
married. She fears that being married will change her and it will be an
irrevocable change that can not be changed.

Careena from United Kingdom
Comment 17 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:14 AM.

I believe the meaning of this poem lies in the various interpretations of
what or who the Robin symbolises.
If we take the poem at face value and take the Robin to be nothing more
than a robin then the poem clearly centres on the beauty and boldness of
nature. With Dickinson being such a clear lover of nature, this reading is
completely possible, with repeated reference to aspects of spring, the
daffodils, bees and blossoms.
However, I believe there is much more to this poem than just an
appreciation for the seasons. Many of her poems centre on themes of death,
love and relationships.
If the robin becomes symboic of a male figure then the whole reading of the
poem is turned on it's head. "He hurts a little though" becomes a possible
reference to either a sexual encounter or to a painfull emotional one. The
interesting use of the verb "mangle" in the second stanza implies a
transformation from childhood to maturity brought about by her first sexual
experiance.
I believe it is more likely that the male figure and her encounter with it
is that of her father, or to other dominant male figures in her life of
which there were many. Many feminist ideas are shown throughout this poem,
the idea of "gentle indefference" implies disrespect towards her and the
domminance and monotonous image of the "unthinking drums" could be
interpreted as the cold, unfeeling attitude of men towards women in society
at the time.
"The yellow gown" could be interpreted as a wedding gown which feels
"foreign" to her, and she is forced to raise her "childish plumes" to the
men that pass through her life.

These are just a few readings and i know there are many more.

♥♥♥clare♥♥♥ from United Kingdom
Comment 16 of 215, added on February 7th, 2008 at 5:17 AM.

I feel that this poem has a sense of nostalgia as it concerns the loss of
childhood. When Dickenson's "childish plumes lift in bereaved
acknowledgment of the unthinking drums" she is exploring the journey from
innocence to experience, which is manifested through the enevitable cycle
of nature.

loz from Colombia

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Information about I dreaded that first Robin, so,

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 348. I dreaded that first Robin, so,
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: 1955
Added: Jan 9 2004
Viewed: 29220 times
Poem of the Day: Nov 27 2002


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