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Vocabulary in I'm Nobody! Who Are You?

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

Text of the Poem

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"admiring..."   (Text of the Poem)

Dickinson’s use of “admiring” is clever, for the word carries a secondary meaning. “Admire” comes from the Latin “mirari”—“to wonder.” Admire also contains “mire,” from the germanic “myr,” meaning “bog.” In its verb form, “to mire” is to ensnare someone, to involve someone in difficulties or misdoings the way a bog might physically trap someone. We can then read the “admiring bog” as also the “miring bog.” To want to be “somebody,” to show oneself off to the world, is to become mired.

"bog!..."   (Text of the Poem)

The image of the bog completes the frog metaphor introduced two lines prior. By characterizing the public audience as “an admiring bog,” the speaker devalues it. A bog, after all, is a section of spongy land, full of stagnant water and decaying matter. The idea is that any attempts at self-aggrandisement or posterity one might throw to the world will end up in a bog—going nowhere, rotting.

"the livelong day..."   (Text of the Poem)

The phrase “livelong day” dates back to as early as the 15th century. It is a metaphorical expression which indicates a day that feels as long as a lifetime. On one level, Dickinson uses the phrase for its playful, musical tone, in keeping with the rest of the poem. On another level, Dickinson uses the phrase’s two temporal registers. While a frog might croak to a bog for a day, the deeper meaning of the poem—the desire for popularity and recognition—is a theme that plays out over the course of a life.

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