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My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –

by Emily Dickinson

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...


This poem is about the inner life of the speaker. Many poets write about their lover, some write about nature or war. Dickinson almost always has her speakers contemplating themselves in some way....


The setting is a very vague one, but it helps in understanding the poem to think of it "taking place" in three settings. The first stanza would be around town. We picture the speaker standing in da...

Sound Check

This poem is roughly in common meter (check out "Form and Meter" for more on the technical aspects of common meter). "Amazing Grace" is also in common meter. Sing the first stanza to the tune of "A...

What's Up With the Title?

There is no formal title to this poem. As with most poems without titles, it’s referred to by its first line. In general, Dickinson’s poems are also accompanied by numbers corresponding...

Calling Card

Dashes – for heaven's sake – dashes! There really isn’t anyone before Dickinson who used lots of dashes, and anyone after likely took a cue from her. Excessive use of dashes is su...


Most of Dickinson’s poems are in the 7-9 range on the Tough-O-Meter for their length, so she’s not a beginner’s poet. This poem falls about dead center, by our estimation. Its con...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

You’d be hard pressed to find much sexiness in this poem. There is a reference to sharing a pillow in stanza four, but you’d have to have one vivid imagination to take it much further t...

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