I would not paint — a picture —
I’d rather be the One
Its bright impossibility
To dwell — delicious — on —
And wonder how the fingers feel
Whose rare — celestial — stir —
Evokes so sweet a Torment —
Such sumptuous — Despair —

I would not talk, like Cornets —
I’d rather be the One
Raised softly to the Ceilings —
And out, and easy on —
Through Villages of Ether —
Myself endued Balloon
By but a lip of Metal —
The pier to my Pontoon —

Nor would I be a Poet —
It’s finer — own the Ear —
Enamored — impotent — content —
The License to revere,
A privilege so awful
What would the Dower be,
Had I the Art to stun myself
With Bolts of Melody!

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

5 Comments

  1. Anne says:

    when she says “what would the dower be” she is refering to when she did try to get one of her poems published and they told her she would have to change her style because she uses so many dashes and thats how she expresses feeling into her poems so she is saying what would the price be if she just turned her poems over and keep in mind she was self-concsious about her poems to begin with. Changing her poems taking the dashes out and replacing them with commas or not putting as many dashes would ruin the message of the poem and how she felt when she wrote it. she is just expressing that in this poem.

  2. colleen says:

    There are three perspectives involved here: artist, audience, and muse. The speaker relates that the least desirable position is that of artist. Of course, this is ironic because we associate the speaker with the artist herself. I’m not sure if the speaker indicates WHY she would prefer to be the inspiration or the audience rather than the artist. Any thoughts here?

    BTW, Dickinson DID publish a handful of poems during her lifetime. Since the poems she published can be counted on one’s hands, and the poems she wrote number in the thousands, we can generally assume that she wrote primarily for herself and not for a specific audience. Nevertheless, as a writer, I have to say that I generally impose poetic form upon myself; I don’t feel it is something that society imposes upon me. When I break with form, I am breaking with my own rules, not society’s. I don’t know if this is how Dickinson felt. I do know that she made the choice to write in ballad meter; it’s not that the form was “all the rage” at the time. I’m not sure that I would go so far as to scan the poem, but it is worth noting that the work contains both approximate rhythm and slant rhyme. Nothing is exact. Where do we go with this? I’m not sure. I think the answer to my previous question may relate.

  3. angie says:

    i need to analyze this poem and paraphrase it and then do an imaginary dialogue and write an initial response to it and its due tomorrow….. scary.!!! but it seems to me that she wouldnt care if it was published or not cause she wrote so many that she knew eventually it would probably be published so why are you commenting on the publishing when you should really be commenting ont he poet or the poem. she is trying to say that she wants to be dwelled on but she also says that she hates the poem the man or women painting it or herself im not sure cause it says what would the dower be? dower meaning the owner of something but the sentence before that she says ” A privilege so awful” my question is what is she talking about here is she the dower or is someone else and is it the love or the celestial feeling inside that makes her think its awful?

  4. annie says:

    I completely disagree with the previous comment. Emily Dickinson did not publish her work obviously, however it is her precise ability to be ingeniously poetic that captures the reader. I wrote a 4 page paper specifically analyzing this poem, and I was amazed at the deliberate word choice, rythm, etc. that Dickinson used to convery her message.

  5. Lauren says:

    In my english lit class, we were discussing this poem and, as it is the tendency of most people to beat sense out of a piece, the class was busy scanning the poem. You have to concider the context in which Emily dickinson wrote her poems- she was not writing for publication. She did not feel the need to restrict herself in form or convention. Because of this, you cannot apply certain types of convention to her work.

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