(The quiz originally scheduled for Friday is now moved to Monday. For Friday, we will discuss those Dickinson poems in which death proves conspicuous.)
We will devote next Monday’s discussion to what is perhaps Emily Dickinson’s most famous and most complex poem: “My life had stood—a Loaded Gun” (Pearson 209-210). None of her poems has attracted a broader range of interpretations than this one. What I want you to do for Monday is to develop your own. Do so by answering the following questions first:
Who or what is speaking in the poem?
What is the “Life” to which the speaker refers?
Why is this “Life . . . A Loaded Gun”?
Who is the “Owner”?
Read and reread the poem, testing as you do various possibilities until you find a combination that seems to work. You might think back over the other poems we have read and discussed to assess whether this poem seems to belong to one or more of the thematic categories we have identified. Once you have settled on a set of answers, develop an interpretation of the entire poem in which you explain how your understanding of its metaphors work.