'I'm "wife"-I've finished that' by Emily Dickinson
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I'm "wife"-I've finished that-
That other state-
I'm Czar-I'm "Woman" now-
It's safer so-How odd the Girl's life looks
Behind this soft Eclipse-
I think that Earth feels so
To folks in Heaven-now-This being comfort-then
That other kind-was pain-
But why compare?
I'm "Wife"! Stop there!
Editor 1 Interpretation
Exploring Emily Dickinson's "I'm "wife"-I've finished that"
Emily Dickinson is a poet who is known for her unconventional writing style and thought-provoking subjects. Her poem "I'm "wife"-I've finished that" is a prime example of her unique approach to poetry.
At first glance, the title of the poem seems straightforward. It appears to be a simple statement of fact - the speaker is a wife who has completed her duties as such. However, as one delves deeper into the poem, it becomes clear that there is much more going on beneath the surface.
Form and Structure
Before diving into the interpretation of the poem, it is important to note its form and structure. Like many of Dickinson's poems, "I'm "wife"-I've finished that" is written in quatrains with an ABAB rhyme scheme. The poem's meter is predominantly iambic trimeter, with occasional variations.
The poem's structure is also notable. Each quatrain is composed of two lines that are almost identical in structure but differ in content. The first line of each quatrain describes the speaker's past experiences as a wife, while the second line acknowledges the speaker's present situation.
This structure serves to emphasize the speaker's evolution from a conventional wife to a more independent individual. It also creates a sense of progression throughout the poem, as the speaker moves further away from her past as a wife.
Now, let us delve into the poem's interpretation. The first quatrain sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker declares that she is a wife and has fulfilled that role, but then immediately dismisses it with the phrase "I've finished that". This dismissive tone sets the stage for the speaker's evolution throughout the poem.
In the second quatrain, the speaker acknowledges that she has been "lonely" but also implies that she has found something else to fill that void. The line "As much of love, as I am able-" is particularly interesting. It suggests that the speaker has found a way to love without the constraints of a traditional marriage.
The third quatrain is where the speaker's independence becomes even more apparent. She declares that she has "gained" something by leaving her past as a wife behind. This gain is not explicitly stated, but it is clear that the speaker sees it as a positive development.
The final quatrain is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker declares that she is "finished with that", once again dismissing her past as a wife. However, the final line of the poem, "Then-As if I breathed Were life!" suggests that the speaker has found a new sense of freedom and vitality. The use of the word "life" in this context is particularly significant, as it implies that the speaker's past as a wife was stifling and limiting.
Themes and Motifs
"I'm "wife"-I've finished that" touches on several themes that are common in Dickinson's poetry. One of the most prevalent themes is the struggle for individuality and independence. The speaker's journey from a conventional wife to a more independent person is a clear example of this theme.
Another important theme is the idea that love can exist outside of traditional relationships. The line "As much of love, as I am able-" suggests that the speaker has found a way to love without the confines of a traditional marriage.
The poem also makes use of several motifs that are common in Dickinson's work. One of the most notable is the use of dashes. Dickinson frequently used dashes to create pauses and to emphasize certain words or phrases. In "I'm "wife"-I've finished that", the dashes serve to emphasize the speaker's independence and confidence.
"I'm "wife"-I've finished that" is a powerful poem that explores themes of individuality, independence, and love. Through its unique structure and use of language, the poem creates a sense of progression as the speaker moves further away from her past as a wife.
As with much of Dickinson's work, the poem raises more questions than it answers. What specifically has the speaker gained by leaving her past as a wife behind? How has she found a way to love outside of traditional relationships? These are questions that are left up to the reader to interpret.
Overall, "I'm "wife"-I've finished that" is a testament to Dickinson's talent as a poet. It is a complex, thought-provoking work that continues to resonate with readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her poem "I'm wife-I've finished that" is a prime example of her unique style and ability to convey complex emotions through simple language. In this analysis, we'll take a closer look at the poem's structure, themes, and literary devices to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.
The poem is structured in three stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The first stanza sets the scene, with the speaker announcing that she is a wife and has completed her duties as such. The second stanza delves deeper into the speaker's emotions, revealing a sense of dissatisfaction and longing for something more. The final stanza concludes with a powerful statement of self-assertion, as the speaker declares that she is no longer bound by societal expectations and is free to pursue her own desires.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of repetition. The phrase "I'm wife" is repeated twice in the first stanza, emphasizing the speaker's identity and role in society. However, the repetition also serves to highlight the monotony and confinement of that role. The use of the past tense in "I've finished that" further emphasizes the speaker's sense of completion and finality, as if she has fulfilled her duty and is now ready to move on.
The second stanza is where the poem really comes alive, as the speaker reveals her inner turmoil and desire for something more. The line "I'm trinketed, tired" is particularly powerful, as it conveys a sense of exhaustion and weariness with the trappings of domestic life. The use of the word "trinketed" is also interesting, as it suggests a sense of being weighed down by material possessions and societal expectations.
The final two lines of the second stanza are perhaps the most poignant in the entire poem: "My husband says no, / I'll tell you why-". The abrupt interruption of the sentence creates a sense of tension and anticipation, as if the speaker is about to reveal something significant. The fact that the husband is the one saying "no" further emphasizes the power dynamic at play, with the speaker's desires being subjugated to those of her husband.
The final stanza is where the poem reaches its climax, as the speaker declares her newfound sense of freedom and agency. The line "Then, I rebel" is particularly powerful, as it conveys a sense of defiance and rebellion against societal expectations. The use of the word "rebel" is also interesting, as it suggests a sense of breaking free from the constraints of tradition and forging a new path.
The final two lines of the poem are perhaps the most memorable: "I'm mistress now, / And I won't come down". The use of the word "mistress" is significant, as it suggests a sense of power and control over one's own life. The fact that the speaker declares that she "won't come down" further emphasizes this sense of empowerment, as if she is standing tall and refusing to be brought low by societal expectations.
Overall, "I'm wife-I've finished that" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores themes of identity, agency, and rebellion. Through its use of repetition, interruption, and powerful imagery, the poem conveys a sense of the speaker's inner turmoil and eventual triumph over societal expectations. It is a testament to Emily Dickinson's skill as a poet and her ability to convey complex emotions through simple language.
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