On a Columnar Self —
How ample to rely
In Tumult — or Extremity —
How good the Certainty

That Lever cannot pry —
And Wedge cannot divide
Conviction — That Granitic Base —
Though None be on our Side —

Suffice Us — for a Crowd —
Ourself — and Rectitude —
And that Assembly — not far off
From furthest Spirit — God —

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1 Comment

  1. Jessie says:

    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.

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