I gave myself to Him —
And took Himself, for Pay,
The solemn contract of a Life
Was ratified, this way —

The Wealth might disappoint —
Myself a poorer prove
Than this great Purchaser suspect,
The Daily Own — of Love

Depreciate the Vision —
But till the Merchant buy —
Still Fable — in the Isles of Spice —
The subtle Cargoes — lie —

At least — ’tis Mutual — Risk —
Some — found it — Mutual Gain —
Sweet Debt of Life — Each Night to owe —
Insolvent — every Noon —

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem I gave myself to Him —


  1. dickinson says:

    This poem is riddled with so much nuance its difficult to decide the true meaning, however I believe what Dickinson is trying to say is marriage is a routine transaction, a commercial contract in which a mutual risk and possible gain is definitely possible with the right person. But her diction of “myself a poorer prove”, where myself is a metonymy for all women, signifies that the odds are, women will be disappointed by the agreement. Women are their male counterparts’ benefit and they are degraded to slavery if by chance they were forced into this contract by means of an arranged marriage. Ultimately the poem tells us that marriage is nothing more than commercial risk, gain, and loss, where debt is inevitable for the “inferior” sex as the “debt of life” is “insolvent every noon”. The advancement since that context is undeniable, however the modern purpose is to remind us of the vitality challenging expectations to remain loyal to intrinsic contentment and satisfaction.

  2. Simone says:

    Emily Dickinson’s message may have been that belonging to nature was more satisfying and safer than belonging to a single person in matrimony
    A sense of reassurance maybe

  3. Amy says:

    Perhaps it is about conforming to societal expectations for individuals to marry. I read it to mean that the institution of marriage is sweeter from the outsider’s point of view; that the mystique of the sanctity of marriage fades with time – “but till the merchant buy/still fable in the Isle of Spice/the subtle cargoes lie.” I think Dickinson is saying that individuals feel so much pressure to conform to the values of society that they are willing to sacrifice their own happiness and sense of self to achieve some degree of social acceptance.

  4. jenny says:

    well , first of all to make an analysis of a poem you need to base the style of Emily’s poems. As you read several other poems you would realize that all of her poems talk about one subject : death. she explains in this poem that she had made a contract with death that it would take her and she would be accpeting that offer, but getting nothing in return..only himself and her.

  5. Elenice says:

    This poem talks about marriage when we give ourselves and take our spouses for pay. And this must happen in a happely conscious way. No gain, no pain, just love.

  6. Cari says:

    i think that she is referring to her love and that she gave her whole self to him and he barely gave her anything.
    but i could be wrong so please correct me 🙂

  7. Darcie says:

    i dont understand…she didnt “give” herself to him…she Sold herself to him.

  8. Suzanna says:

    I think this poem is about a prostitute…

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