Comment 5 of 53, added on July 31st, 2005 at 5:40 PM.
It is with great enthusiasm that a discussion of this poem by my favorite
and most influential poet, Emily Dickinson, exists. I know not of another
poem quite as romantic, so full of yearning for completeness, as this.
Ever since I came upon it, I have lived my life in accordance to it. And
so, I must shed light on what this poem truly means to me, and how I
believe it was intended to mean.
"My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun--" is the most passionate poem I know of.
Simple because there is so much desire, so much yearning and longing for
love, so much dream for that one person to complete you. Throughout the
piece, think about how we ourselves desire, unconditionally, completeness
and unity in that one true love--where everything finally makes sense, the
My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun--
In Corners--till a Day
the Owner passed--identified--
and carried Me away--
relates her, the narrator's life, to that of an inanimate object--something
not living, yet full of power, full of potential, hence, the word "loaded."
Yet her life is stationary, sitting in a corner, waiting for that day, the
day the "Owner" comes to claim her as his love. (Think of it this way: when
you truly love someone, do you not claim him or her as "yours?" or that he
or she belongs to you?) Continuing, and so he comes to claim her and carry
her away***think marriage, how the groom carries the bride.***
And now We roam in Sovereign Woods --
And now We hunt the Doe --
And every time I speak for Him --
The Mountains straight reply --
Now, they are One. The hunter and his gun, or the husband and his wife
(stanza 5 focuses on the narrator as the protector so here she hints on the
fact that she, like the gun, is protecting her man.) And so they both go
off into the world. "And every time I speak for Him--/The Mountains
straight reply--" implies that whenever she speaks on his behalf which is
the gun firing, the echo effect of the sound roaring through the woods is
the reply. Also, by speaking on his behalf, she as the bride/wife, is
protecting and upholding his reputation by acting as his representative.
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 --
Here Dickinson relates her exuberant smile to the spark from the gun being
fired. Her smile and happiness is enough to make the whole valley glow. And
when night approaches and they have spent a wonderful day together, she
still guards her master or husband with more attention than ever.
To foe of His -- I'm deadly foe --
None stir the second time --
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye --
Or an emphatic Thumb --
Now it gets forceful. Stanza 5 states that whoever dares challenge her man
must first deal with her. After all, she is his protector and he her
master. She demands attention by enforcing a vicious stare and a no
nonsense thumb. The "yellow eye" and "emphatic thumb" suggests the
hunter's aiming and the trigger finger, in relation to the gun.
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 --
The most moving part is saved for the end. The narrator ends by saying
that though they both can live long, he must live longer than her because
she can't bear to live a day without him. You've heard of the saying "if
you live to be 100, I want to live to 100 minus 1 day"? This is the same
idea. The metaphor of the gun here comes around finally to state that it,
like her, has the capacity to kill, not to die (The gun can't die because
it's an inanimate object, and she can't speed up a natural death). At the
time Dickinson lived, women were known to have longer life expectancy than
Well, I hope that helped you and others who seem to be puzzled by the poem.
We all live with, essentially, one underlying purpose, consciously or
subconsciously, to find that one true love that completes us. A love that
we proudly claim as our own, and that who saved us, our owner. For me and
countless others, our lives are like loaded guns, incapable of sharing
ourselves for the owner has yet to arrive to claim us. We live on,
incomplete, yet continually yearn for that love that Dickinson could not
even find herself. She died without ever finding the love, she so vividly
portray in all her writings. It is a tragedy that she must suffer for us
to appreciate the mastery and vision of her genius.
Emily Dickinson is among the most romantic poets ever, though her works are
very subtle and tough. I hope you all enjoyed my thoughts on the poem.
Don't be hesitant to comment. Thanks and good luck!
Sunday 8:50PM July 31, 2005
from United States