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I'm Nobody — a poem for a Saturday

For today, a bit of Emily Dickinson:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

In the comments, the always-observant and thoughtful writerjenn asked whether this poem came in different versions, as she recalled one with "banish us" instead of "advertise." The answer is yes, it comes in two versions. The one above is actually the original; the one below is a later version, and appears to be the more-often quoted one. And yet, I like the way the lines skew in the first version better.

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!

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 15th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
I think I'm a frog in a 'blog'! Hee, hee!
Mar. 16th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
Clever girl.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 16th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
This is a great poem for children's collections, and yet it speaks so well to us as adults too. Who hasn't felt like Nobody, after all?
Mar. 7th, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
Me too!
I was six & received a children's picture book of her poems. I'm nobody! Who are you, was the only poem I thought I could make sense of & I loved it!
Mar. 16th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
I've seen a slightly different version of this, where the 3rd and 4th lines are, "Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!/They'd banish us, you know." And in the last stanza, it's "day" instead of "June." Did she write different versions, I wonder?
Mar. 16th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Yes. Different versions. I put up the earlier one. You're more familiar with the edited one, which is more widely anthologized. I went back and edited the post on your account.
Mar. 16th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
On my account? ::blushes::

I think I like most of the 2nd version better. Except there's a very interesting twist in the 1st version: "Then there's a pair of us" as a question instead of a statement. Not sure which way I prefer that line, but they're different. First way is more of a dialogue, second more of a monologue. IMHO.
Mar. 16th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
I'm Basho's frog. :-)
Mar. 16th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
Old pond
frog jumps in
sound of water
Mar. 16th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
I'm with you on enjoying the first version more. It's quirkier, and makes me feel as if it were written by a Nobody. The second version almost reads as if a Somebody edited a Nobody's words. ;)
Mar. 16th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
The second version is more commonly anthologized, but the first one is, well, "funner" in my opinion.
Mar. 17th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
missed this...
...on saturday. obviously, a nobody but in good company.

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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