Poem for February

I’m Nobody! Who are you?by Emily Dickinson 

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 !

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst Massachusetts in 1830 and led a reclusive life in her parental home. Only a dozen of the 1800 or so poems she wrote were published during her lifetime though her reputation now is as one of America’s greatest poets. This poem is one of her earlier ones, characteristically short and with distinctive punctuation, a matter on which those who saw the recent biopic ‘A Quiet Passion’ (see January’s edition of The Voice) will know she was punctilious.

Eccentric and often sharp by temperament, her poems often, as here, combine playfulness and bleakness in equal measure. The image of the frog comes as a complete surprise.

David Underdown

Portrait of Emily Dickenson courtesy of Wikipedia.