The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —
Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —
I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —
Of the Poem:
In line 1 Dickinson uses alliteration as a stylistic device, and does so with wonderful efficiency- notice how the ‘c’ of Society takes on an alliterative quality akin to the smooth sounds produced by the other ’s’ words in the same line (just say it aloud and see: The Soul selects her own Society).
Taken as a whole it seems there’s little evidence the poet intended a specific meter, but there are some similarities between the first two stanzas:
- the first lines of each contain ten syllables
- the second and fourth four
- the third line differs only by an extra syllable
The rhyme scheme, which essentially consists of oblique rhymes, is more tangible: a.b.a.b. with each stanza- provided we postulate a rhythmic relation between Gate and its half rhyme Mat of the second stanza.
Dickinson’s poetic style- from her dashes to her highly creative use of oblique rhyme schemes- has shown her to be one of the most ingenious and original writers I’ve come to know.
She employs some of the most awkward imagery I’ve seen in poetry- but in a most fantastic way, and almost never seems to exhibit academic conformity (which I admire).
The fact that she produced nearly 1800 poems before her death without a single soul knowing about them is clear evidence to me that she loved poetry not for the sake of accolade, but for poetry itself.
Like Theodore Roethke , Emily Dickinson’s poetic authenticity is undeniable. I appreciate her works dearly.
Note: Below in the comments area is one of many perspectives I've flirted with concerning this poem. Although I’m still developing my take on this poem, I thought I’d post some of my current thoughts there. I’d love to know what you think of it.