Emily Dickinson Readings
"I'M 'WIFE'--I'VE FINISHED THAT"
• I'm "Wife"--I've finished that
• This being comfort, then/ That other kind was pain;/ But why compare?/ I'm
wife! stop there!
• marriage is a safe "state", convenient and expected
• thought she would become a real Woman through marriage, or would become
head of household (Czar)
• "safer" for a woman to be married
• speaker tries to convince herself
• "soft Eclipse" means marriage will eclipse her self, though she might not see it
• last stanza is the speaker pushing aside doubts
• single state and marriage cannot compare
"THE SOUL SELECTS HER OWN SOCIETY"
• The soul selects her own society
• I've known her from an ample nation/ Choose one;/ Then close the valves of
her attention/ Like stone.
• people choose a select few confidants and exclude all others
• ritualistic/ceremonial images
• does not tolerate entry into the Soul's Society once the door is shut
• severe exclusivity
• last stanza places emphasis on the chosen one
"I DIED FOR BEAUTY--BUT WAS SCARCE"
• I died for beauty--but was scarce
• And so, as kinsmen met a night,/ We talked between the rooms,/ Until the
moss had reached our lips,/ And covered up our names.
• truth and beauty are the same; brethren
• martyrdom and optimistic afterlife
• terror at the thought of death itself
• eventual loss of identity as the moss covers her lips and name
• death erases every part of human life; nothing remains once we die
◦ yet this is a gradual loss process "BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH--"
• Because I could not stop for death
• We slowly drove, he knew no haste,/ And had put away/ My labor, and my
leisure too,/ For his civility.
• journey with Death from life to afterlife
• Death stops for her, when