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I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

If i were to take it to be sacred poetry there would be an added (subtracted?) dimension to the speakers "nobodiness."  For the speaker in Dickinson's poem it is outsider status, for many readers it is low self esteem, for the mystic it might refer to inclusion within some "thing" to the point where infividual identity disappears.  This union with 'the one' is sought as the goal of spiritual paths.; to be nothing of one's ego and all within the all.

We learn that we must develop as selves within a community, separate ourselves from that community (individuation) and then give ourselves to a larger, more encompassing community -- perhaps the cosmos,  First peoples, in spite of a "superficial resemblance" between their spiritualy and that of the great mystics of the ecclesiastical religions, are regarded as spiritually less developed because they do not (in their natural habitat) undergo this individuation, thus their spiritual lives are too hemmed in by the narrow perspective of the tribe.  I see the shortcut first people are allowed to take because they do not have to struggle with their egos as leading to the same place as a seeker of enlightenment or salvation in one the "great" traditions

As an autistic person, i think that my "nobodiness", my "nothingness." is not the nothingness of the neurotypical person.  Using the metaphor of spiritual growth as a metamorphosis (as Sue Kidd Monk does) she begins as a "caterpillar" (ordinary social roles), weaves a "cocoon." (spiritual search). and emerges as a "butterfly" (enlightenment.)  I have never been a "caterpillar", i have always lived in the "cocoon." i have no idea if or when i will emerge or what my state will be at that time.  I suspect that if i become a butterfly, i wll be a very strange one.

I'm nobody. how are you?
Would you like to be nobody too?
We'd be so strange they couldn't stand us.
They'll try to tie us down and brand us
But we'll say, hey, that's okay
we were going for tattoos anyway,

1f. "I'm nobody! Who are you?" by Emily Dickinson [Beyond Books - Reading Between the Lines]


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
One of my poetry teacher taught Dickinson as a mystic.

My way of paraphrasing this poem is that our persona, ego, "whoness" is illusory. The "are you nobody, too?" suggests both that nobody is an anybody, but it also suggests that the speaker and the reader (and everybody) are actually all the same "person"--nobody.
Jun. 4th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC)
The teacher, in my opinion, was quite correct.
This particular poem, one of my favorites
is usually not included among the mystical poems.

I like your interpretation.
Jun. 5th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
I risk being tiresome. But, you see, this theme seems to be central to the writing side of my call and to the work God is pressing me about.

I wonder whether this is a poem of critique of starting one's approaches from Identity and Identity Claim, as opposed to beginning with eager engagement with the world and What's At Hand to Do.

Of course, I speak as one being stifled. :D By dreary frogs. :D
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
Somebodies might be miffed by the reference to frogs and bogs. Celebrity was possibly less ridiculous in Emily's day but her poem is a perfect send off of celebrity,
Jun. 5th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
But only somebody can be stifled.
Nobody 1 is born into a stifling (and nurturing) environment
In that environment she becomes somebody,
Then she is renobodied at a "deeper" level
now free from the possibility of stifling.
Nobody 2 is the possible speaker in Dickinson's poem.
She is still a little bit of a rebel
But she is on her way to becoming Nobody 3
The quiet point from which the things that are truly done
get done.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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