The Justification for Staying Private

1100 Words5 Pages
The Justification for Staying Private In at least three different poems Emily Dickinson shows her thinking about being a public person. In “This is my letter to the world,” (519) the speaker says she wants to be private, but to fully understand why she wants this, the reader must look at two other poems. The reader must turn to an earlier poem, “I’m Nobody,” (260) and surprisingly, in order to grasp poem 260, a later poem, “Publication - is the Auction” (788), is also necessary. These three poems have a similar theme of publicity and privacy, and they also use similar elements—rhyme, meter, and punctuation—to express that theme. Therefore, when these poems are taken together, 788 clarifies 260, which itself explains 519. By itself, poem…show more content…
Poem 260 sheds light on this question through a similar use of rhyme and a contrast of meter. In the poem, the speaker asks the reader whether he or she is a “Nobody,” someone not famous. At first, this seems to be a simple question. The first rhyme, though, shows what the speaker means. She rhymes “Who are you” with “Nobody - too.” The words “you” and “too” are both referring to the reader. In connecting these words together—and not to any other words—the speaker makes a closed-circuit: the “you” is only associated with another you, and not with any other people. In doing this, the speaker asks whether the reader—like the rhyming words—is unreliant on any other words or people. Thus, the speaker wants herself and the reader to be original. Poem 260’s lack of meter conveys this as well. The poem has a similar theme to that of poem 519, but unlike poem 519 it does not have a meter. The speaker has no meter to show that her ideal way to live is to be different from everyone else. A “Nobody” is good because Nobodies do not feel the need to be consistent with the rest of the world, just like the speaker did not feel the need for any of her lines to have consistent meter with the rest of the lines. The second rhyme shows what is wrong with being unoriginal. When talking about how awful being a “Somebody” is, the speaker rhymes the words “Frog,” referring to a Somebody, and “Bog,” referring to the public. Thus,
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