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My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –

by Emily Dickinson

Mortality Theme

In "My Life had stood," the theme of mortality is closely tied to the transition from life to death. The speaker wrestles with the idea of death approaching (whether suddenly or slowly). In some ways, she tries to look past death into the unknown. In this poem, we watch our speaker contemplate how easily life can be taken away, while she considers her own role in either preserving or destroying life.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Why is there a question as to whether she will live longer than "He"? What’s the significance of that?
  2. What does it mean to have the "power to die"?
  3. In what ways may "the power to die" not be about death at all?
  4. How would the power to kill make you feel?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The power to kill functions as a distraction from the speaker’s own mortality.

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