My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –
by Emily Dickinson
(8) Snow Line
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 confusing syntax, numerous dashes, and strange language all make it hard to even get going. Yet the themes in this poem aren’t as hard to wrap your mind around as those in some of her other poems. Several of her famous ones, like "There’s a certain Slant of light," or "I started early – took my dog," are incredibly mysterious, whereas this one starts with a relatively neat comparison to a loaded gun. This image isn’t too difficult because we can picture it in our minds.