online journal, unit 2

Poster¡G Sarita Chuang at 19:1:20 11/19/97 from
On-line journal, Poetry (II), Personal Identity 

Poster¡G Sarita Chuang at 10:58:10 11/8/97 from 
RE Kate at 13:4:34 11/3/97 posted ¡uon-line journal, Chinese or English¡vSubject 

"I'M NOBODY! WHO ARE YOU?" by Emily Dickinson 
1)I think the speaker of this poem is a shy person. She/he might be someone who is 
confined to herself/himself. However, she is also playful, because she looks for a 
companion. In line 2, the speaker asked,"Are you--Nobody--too?" And this question 
invites the readers into the speaker's world of nobody. In the first stanza, the speaker was 
like a child, looking for his/her playmate. Besides, she draws the reader or her companion 
closer to herself, for she considered them as a "pair," and because line 4 says,"Don't tell 
they'd banish us-you know!" After the first stanza, the readers of this poem and the poet 
seem to become a unity. 
2)In the second stanza, Emily Dickinson compared Somebody to a frog, and Somebody's 
audience to an admiring bog. Since a frog suggests the idea of noises, sometimes even 
ugliness, the readers might be led by the poet to think that it's better to be a Nobody, 
which is more peaceful and quiet. 
3)The dashes in this poem serve different functions. The dashes in line 2 suggests 
hesitancy, because the speaker is not sure if the reader of this poem is also a Nobody; she 
is just making an inquiry. The dashes in stanza 2 implies that the speaker is whispering to 
her companion, another Nobody, because she is afraid that Somebody would hear their 
discussion and banish them, the Nobodies. This creates a clear contrast between Nobody 
and Somebody. These dashes also suggest the psychological distance between people in 
the modern and industrial society. 
4)If we take Emily Dickinson's background into consideration, I woudl think the whole 
poem is all about herself. She may never have left her house in her last 20 years, and by 
her early 30's, she began a withdrawal from people; even the people she apparently loved 
had to speak to her from the other side of the door. I can't believe that she could stay 
normal mentally after such isolation. To be honest, I think the You in the first stanza and 
the poet are actually the same person. Dickinson was creating the same image of herself 
out of her isolated life. The whole outside world could be Somebody to Dickinson. 
Normally, after a person isolated herself from the society for a long time, it's hard for her 
to adjust, or survive in the general public again. And I think that's why Dickenson 
wrote,"they (Sombodies) would banish us." 
1)The first stanza kind of personifies the spider, because it descirbes the spider as 
"noiseless and patient." The spider is obviously engaged in weaving a web. The spider 
stands on a promontory in a vacant vast surrounding, so it seems very lonely. In line 4, the 
repetition of the word, "filament," has a meaning that the spider is slowly launching forth 
the filament little by little. 
2)In the second stanza, there is a parallel between the soul and the spider, since the poet 
wrote that his soul stands in measureless oceans of space. He is just as lonely as the 
spider; the poems he kept writing were like the spider web. The soul of the poet is the 
center and base of all his poems, just as the spider is the beginning of its web. In the 
second stanza, we also see that the poet tried to form a bridge. The bridge represents that 
the speaker of this poem was trying to form a connection between him and the people 
around him. In conclusion, I think the main idea of this poem is that a human being can't 
live alone, or can't isolate himself from the society. 
"WE REAL COOL" by Gwendolyn Brooks 
1)The group the speaker of this poem identified herself with could be a group be a group 
of teenagers, or young people, for we see the words,"The Pool Players" at the beginning 
of this poem, and the second line mentioned they "left school." This could be a group of 
teenagers from a lower class or from minority groups in the American society (maybe 
from African Americans). 
2)The tone of this poem is fast and energetic. The form of this poem is very special, 
because every line ends with a "we," except the last line. This creates a feeling of 
conformity. But on the other hand, this form also suggests that this group is different from 
the others: they have their own pattern and rules. The word "we" actually represents the 
image of being cool. The author didn't put a "we" at the end of the last line; the last line has 
only 2 words: die soon. There is a symbolic meaning that after the speaker died, the 
coolness also ceased, and that's why there is no "we" at the end of the poem. 
"I HEARD A FLY BUZZ WHEN I DIED" by Emily Dickinson 
The narrator of this poem was dead when she recited the poem. because the poem was 
written in the past tense, and because the first line says,"I heard a Fly buzz--when I 
died--." This poem should be aabout the narrator's own funeral. The fly is a main 
character in this poem. At first, I didn't understand why Dickinson chose an ugly insect, 
such as a fly, in her poem? However, I think there must be something special about her 
choice: When the narrator died, she didn't see the light, the King (the King refers to 
Jesus), and even her relatives around her; the only thing she heard was the buzz of the fly. 
So is it possible that in Dickinson's opinions, what is important when we are still alive, 
such as relatives, and religion, become unimportant when we die? In the last stanza of this 
poem, even Jesus, the king, was not sensed. The whole situation was as if when the 
speaker was detached from the living world and all her loved ones, the only thing that she 
can feel is only something physical, such as the fly. 
On the other hand, the fly might represent the nature, and as a person died, she returned 
to nature. But I still don't understand why the buzz was blue (in the 13th line)?! 
"METAPHORS" by Sylvia Plaths 
This poem is about a riddle of 9 words. It took me some time to decide that the answer to 
this riddle is the word, "pregnancy." However, I see no joy of pregnancy in this poem, as 
most pregnant women might feel joy when they are expected. If the poet was the prgnant 
woman who told the poem, I would say she felt bewildered, and confused about her own 
pregnancy. The speaker of this poem was neither happy or sad toward her situation. The 
whole pregnancy was a mystery to her; that's why she called herself a riddle, something 
unsolved ( the first line: "I'm a riddle in nine syllables"). From the final line of this poem, I 
don't think that the speaker's tone was full of expection. Since she said she had boarded 
"a train there's no getting off," her tone and the meaning of this sentence make me feel that 
she just had no choice but to be pregnant. Besides, the tone of this poem reminds me that 
this speaker might be a depressed pregnant woman. 


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