My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –
How we cite our quotes:
My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – (1)
Rather than explicitly introducing violence in the first line, Dickinson sets up the potential for aggression. A loaded gun is an object with the potential for great violence, so making this kind of comparison to her life endows that life with similar ferociousness. The "Loaded Gun" is the central extended metaphor of the poem and seems to be critical in making sense of the poem's meaning.
And now We hunt the Doe – (6)
This is the first instance of real violence in the poem, and a continuation of the gun metaphor of the first line. The loaded gun is also a tool for hunting. The "Doe" is an interesting choice of words, because it seems to us to be a symbol of femininity and innocence. Thus, hunting of a doe may be a metaphor for the oppression of femininity and innocence.
It is as a Vesuvian face (11)
"Vesuvian" is derived from Mount Vesuvius, a mountain in central Italy, which erupted in 79 A.D., burying the city of Pompeii and most of its inhabitants. The word is used here to describe individuals with explosive tempers (hence the volcano). Dickinson’s choice of this word invokes both the anger implicit in the word and the violence of the eruption. A "face" is the obvious face on a person, but can also be a part of a mountain, such as a rock or cliff face.