Lyric Time Dickinson Analysis

915 Words 4 Pages
Hien Tieu
Dr. Liz Ann Baez Anguilar
ENGL 1302.012
1st October 2015
Lyric Time Dickinson and the Limits of Genre
Cameron, Sharon. “Lyric Time Dickinson and the limits of genre”, library of congress cataloging in publication data. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London. 1979.
(66) I should like to offer two conventional paraphrases of the poem, which I shall then suggest are inadequate. In the first, picked up by God, the speaker becomes His marksman: the mountains resound with the echoes of her shots; those bursts of gunfire are as “cordial” as the eruption of a volcano; with the threat of more gunfire, she guards him at night, imagining her power to be total. Alternatively, if “Owner” is a term that suggests a deity, “Master”
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In this reading, the speaker receives identity when she is carried off by the earthly lover whom she thereafter guards with murderous and possessive fury, anxious to protect him from his enemies and preferring, it seems, to watch over his bed than to share it with him; preferring, that is, violence to sexuality. But the problem with the poem is that it makes sense, neither as religious allegory- the speaker’s service to God does not involve the killing of the unrighteous – nor as the depiction of an erotic relationship. For either paraphrase, once it confronts the last stanza, faces its own inadequacy.
While the last stanza plays with the connections between life and death in a joke of comparative terms, those terms fail to make sense when applied literally to human beings (how could they have the power to kill without the power to die?) and make such obvious sense when applied to the inanimate gun
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The central trope – life as a loaded gun belonging to someone else that, when claimed, goes off- once it is figured, still leaves many questions unanswered, the most crucial of which is: What imaginable relationship can be explained by such violence? I shall begin to address these questions by suggesting that “identity” in the poem is conceived of as violence, just as life is apparently conceived of as rage. The poem is thus the speaker’s acknowledgment that coming to life involves accepting the power and the inescapable burden of doing violence wherever one is and to whomever one encounter[s]. But that interpretation, if is a true one, is also terrifying, for violence turned upon the world can be returned by it. It is to guard herself against this return that the speaker imagines herself immortal. For the most foolproof protection from violence against the self is the denial of death. Although my interpretation may sound extreme, it is prompted by the enigmatic last stanza, which makes a shambles out of any conventional interpretation of what precedes it. In the stanza, the focus shifts to the speaker’s scrutiny of her own fury, and suggests, as we might have suspected, that this was the real subject after all. The speaker – gun is viewed as the agent of death and not (as the person for

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