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Comment 1 of 8, added on October 31st, 2005 at 1:08 PM.
There are many meanings in here, just like most of Dickinson's poetry. A
basic paraphrase would be that a person depends on himself and his morals
to give him strength in a society where no one else believes in the same
things. A group of people and each individual in it are held up by these
beliefs, which also prove useful in facing the almighty religious system.
Other thoughts on the poem are that the subject is the reliance on the
self, from roots, "granitic base", to groups, "rely/in Tumult". But there
is always the fact that the poem can be taken to describe just one person
or a large group, as large as the entire Chruch association. Dickinson's
use of puns, such as "Rely", and dashes contribute to these possibilities.
I would like to add only a few more thoughts, that "Self" sounds an awful
lot like "shelf" but I do not know what that would mean for the poem, maybe
that a shelf holds important items that people want to show off, like a
person's strong convictions? Also, "extremity" can be an appendage, which
is a part of the self that a person depends on. The line "Though none be on
our side" suggests that the speaker or speaker's group is a minority in
their situation, so the "Suffice Us" could be the speaker asking to be
sufficed, or saying that this minority's convictions are good enough for
all of the things mentioned in the last stanza.
Jessie from United States