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Elaura Ligon

October 1, 2013

I felt my life with both my hands A (8)


To see if it was thereB (6)
I held my spirit to the Glass, C (8)
To prove it possibler B (6)
I turned my Being round and round D (8)
And paused at every pound D (6)
To ask the Owner's name E (6)
For doubt, that I should know the Sound D (8)
I judged my featuresjarred my hair B (8)
I pushed my dimples by, and waited F (9)
If theytwinkled back G (5)
Conviction might, of me H (6)
I told myself, "Take Courage, Friend I (8)
Thatwas a former time J (6)
But we might learn to like the Heaven, K (8)
As well as our Old Home!" L (6)
-Emily Dickinson

Elaura Ligon
October 1, 2013
In Emily Dickinsons poem I felt my life with both my hands, Emily
Dickinson uses personification, imagery, and the connotation of descriptive words
throughout the poem in order to allude to her want to recognize her own life and to
express the reality life itself.
The poem I felt my life with both my hands is one of Emily Dickinsons
1,768 poems that was unpublished during her lifetime out of the overall collection
of 1,775. All of her poems aside from 24 of them, including this one, were untitled.
Also, this poem specifically deals with the topic of life and mortality which are two of
the topics that Dickinsons poems usually revolve around. This poem contains 16
lines within 4 stanzas and has an irregular rhyme scheme with alternating meters of
8 and 6 (aside from stanza 3). It is generally presented in first person and is broken
apart by multiple line breaks, which are typical in Emily Dickinsons poems.
Starting with the first stanza, all of the descriptive words are used to describe
the use of the senses to identify what she was looking at. She personified her life as
if she could actually see, feel, or hold it in her hands. Though she could never
physically hold her life in her hands, she used this personification to identify the
reality of how she actually wished she could see exactly how her life was composed.
She couldnt recognize the reality of life and how she could possibly behold such a
thing. This is also seen in lines 3 and 4 when she states I held my spirit to the
Glass, to prove it possibler. If you were to hold a spirit up to the glass, you would
likely see nothing because of the fact that a spirit is virtually invisible to the human
eye, especially if you dont believe in spirits or eternal souls. However, she wanted
to physically SEE her life with her own eyes, she wanted to hold it in her own hands,
and she wanted solid proof of existence. She wanted proof that her existence and
that her reality was all possible and that it was all as real as she perceived it to be.
Within the second stanza, Emily Dickinson describes her actions as she
analyzes herself in the mirror. As she turns around in slow circles, she contemplates
questioning herself and her composure as a person. She pauses with every turn she
makes simply to continue her internal analysis of herself, and she even goes so far
as to reconsider the likeliness of what she sees in the mirror belonging to her. In
lines 7 and 8 she indirectly states that she has doubts that the Being she is
looking at belongs to her and she questions if she would even know the sound of
the actual Owners name, as if the owner itself wouldnt be her but someone
unknown or unrecognizable. I also found the capitalization of the Sound to be
interesting because it may be an indication of needed emphasis or it could be
inferring personification of the sound being mentioned.
The third stanza is predominantly a judgment of the features she notices
after she analyzes them in the mirror. She sort of ruffles her hair and pushes her
dimples to be sure that her features were actually real. She uses harsh descriptive

Elaura Ligon
October 1, 2013
words like judged, jarred, pushed, and conviction, however when she pushes her
dimples back, she used the positive descriptive word twinkled indicating that even
though she is judging herself she is confident in herself and she quite possibly
could like herself the way she is, she just doesnt believe that she is actually real.
The denotation provided for the word conviction indicates that if in fact her
dimples did twinkle back, she would have a sense of belief in herself and the
reality of her life and how she lives.
For the final stanza, I had made a reference to one of the previously studied
poems by Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world. The final stanza of this
poem is her letter to herself rather than a letter to the world. And in this short letter
to herself she is giving herself a sense of reassurance in her life and how she should
live it. She reminds herself to forget about what has happened in the past and to
take courage for the future and that even though they (the Emily Dickinson she is
writing to and herself) are going to a new place (the Heaven) they could still like
the places they were in in the past (their Old Home). She even refers to herself as
Friend indicating that she is generally looking out for herself and the paths she
takes in life. She wants the best for herself and she wants to inhabit herself with the
Courage she needs to get through the rest of her life with the knowledge that she IS
real and that her reality is really something she is experiencing.
So, in conclusion, I interpret that this poem is relative to her life and that as
long as she thinks she is great or she contains a personal opinion of herself that she
is whatever she believes she is. With the evidence she sees in the mirror and the
proof she gathers throughout life, her reality is real and her life continues to put her
through trials that makes her think that her life must surely be some sort of
unrealistic nightmare. But even through her trials, she pushes herself forward with
the Courage she needs to get through life as a friend to herself, and she moves on
to new beginnings and new Heavens so that she can realize that just because
something happened in the past doesnt mean that it is bound to happen in her
future as well.