Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
In Corners - till a Day
The Owner passed - identified -
And carried Me away -
And now We roam in Sovereign Woods -
And now We hunt the Doe -
And every time I speak for Him -
The Mountains straight reply -

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow -
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through -

And when at Night - Our good Day done -
I guard My Master's Head -
'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
Deep Pillow - to have shared -

To foe of His - I'm deadly foe -
None stir the second time -
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye -
Or an emphatic Thumb -

Though I than He - may longer live
He longer must - than I -
For I have but the power to kill,
Without--the power to die--

This is going to sound absurd, beyond absurd, but I truly enjoy writing to some relaxing, thought provoking music. Tonight I decided upon my Beatles play list. Naturally, I began with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," but that's not where the absurdity begins... When my thoughts really began to move towards a reading for this poem was when "Happiness is a Warm Gun" came on.

The song is a counter perspective, as I read it, to "My Life had Stood." The song's perspective, although the gun being a female, just as in the poem, is sung from a man's viewpoint. It's uncanny the resemblance between the two: I digress...

I picked this poem because I truly enjoyed the first lines of the poem, but my favorite stanza is:

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow -
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through -

The slave position in which Dickinson places herself in a position of a slave. Her power is purely derived from the man's touch, his ability to "pull her trigger." Obviously sexual, the gun is a classic phallic symbol, and placing the woman as the gun, Dickinson becomes a toy of sexual desire: she is not of her own sexuality, but entirely his. Just after she fires, kills the doe, a female deer, she gives him pleasure, but the "cordial light" speaks to lack of pleasure that she experiences.

Dickinson's use of dashes is absolutely brilliant, I think. The dashes don't let the sentences end, but also allow complete thoughts to come through. Much like the oppression Kate Chopin experienced for voicing her full thoughts on sexual expression, Dickinson is displaying those thoughts, but holding back as if to remain appropriate on some level. The dashes, the nearly stream-of-consciousness style show there is more to be written, said, and she's left thoughts from her poem. She has power, but not without man's approval to use it.

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