Study Guide

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – Summary

By Emily Dickinson

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My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – Summary

This poem is about many things. You may have your own interpretation, but we’re going to focus on the theme of anger that pours out of these 24 lines like lava out of a volcano’s mouth. Indeed, there is some anger up in this poem. And we're not talking about simple frustration, but fiery, explosive rage that can take over even the most levelheaded person. Wrath can makes us feel powerful, invincible even.

However, as Emily Dickinson explores in the poem, it can be an uneasy arrangement. Anger can carry us away whether we’d like it to or not. While it can be strangely rewarding to get angry, giving you a sort of high, this process can also be highly destructive. Feelings of invincibility may be a cover for something deeper and darker than anger – something that is harder to express. Intense. That’s Dickinson.

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