I cannot dance upon my Toes —
No Man instructed me —
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,

That had I Ballet knowledge —
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe —
Or lay a Prima, mad,

And though I had no Gown of Gauze —
No Ringlet, to my Hair,
Nor hopped to Audiences — like Birds,
One Claw upon the Air,

Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,
Nor rolled on wheels of snow
Till I was out of sight, in sound,
The House encore me so —

Nor any know I know the Art
I mention — easy — Here —
Nor any Placard boast me —
It’s full as Opera —

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1 Comment

  1. Melissa says:

    In the first stanza, Dickinson is expressing how she cannot do something that she has not been taught (“No man instructed me-“) She cannot help thinking the way she does.

    The next three stanzas uses imagery to describe attire and movements typical for a ballerina. Dickisnon is saying that if she had been taught what she referred to in the first stanza, she would outdo all others of her kind. Even without putting in any real effort on her part, she would still be admired by her public.

    Presently, even though she’s not appreciated for her art (poetry), even though she’s not popular (boasted by placards) she’s still better at what she does than others.

    Even though she refers to Ballet, she’s talking about her poetry and responding to the criticism she received.

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