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Tone in I'm Nobody! Who Are You?

Tone Examples in I'm Nobody! Who Are You?:

Text of the Poem

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"To tell one's name..."   (Text of the Poem)

This line, with its internal rhyme between “name” and “day”—the words which fall on the second and fourth stresses—has a songlike tone. This quality is in keeping with the content of the line: the notion of tirelessly announcing oneself to the world.

"dreary..."   (Text of the Poem)

The word “dreary,” with its connotations of melancholy and boredom, is in stark contrast to the poem’s jaunty tone. The lively meter, quick pace, and exclamations all serve to counteract the “dreariness” of “be[ing] somebody.”

"I'm nobody!..."   (Text of the Poem)

The poem’s opening line establishes its unique, ironic tone. Though the speaker admits to being “nobody,” there is a tone of cheerfulness, as the exclamation point underscores. While the poem’s theme—the pointless pursuit of renown—is serious, Dickinson relates the theme through an ironic tone that combines lightness with self-negation.

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