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My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –


by Emily Dickinson

Stanza V Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 17-20

To foe of His – I'm deadly foe –
None stir the second time –
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye –
Or an emphatic Thumb –

  • This stanza refers to how the speaker defends her "Master" and "Owner."
  • She is a deadly foe of any of his enemies, no one messes with either of them a second time.
  • We immediately think back to the gun metaphor with this image. A "deadly" foe is certainly one with a loaded gun, and no one stirs a second time if they’re shot dead.
  • The third line of the stanza’s reference to a "Yellow Eye" could refer to something like giving someone the "evil eye," generally a sign of aggression, intimidation, or cursing.
  • The "Yellow Eye" could also refer to the muzzle flash of a gun.
  • The last line is similar. Thumbing your nose at someone was an old sign of aggression, and giving someone an "emphatic Thumb" is something similar (and certainly not a thumbs-up).
  • Just like the "Yellow Eye," it could also refer to the thumb used to cock a gun.

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