Emily Dickinson- ???I Had Been Hungry All the Years???, and ???I Gave My Self to Him???

January 31, 2017/ Free Online/ 0 comments

Belonging is a complex notion, which can be used to characterise the fundamental nature of mankind and society. It is a desire to make connections with others, to develop a sense of identity and form a connection with people, places and the wider community. It is possible to achieve this sense of belonging through forming a relationship with somebody, being a part of a group of people with similar interests to you as well as being a part of the greater community. Likewise, it is possible to be separated from society due to a lack of established connections with people and places, leading to alienation and exclusion.
The idea of belonging is one that many people can relate to and in particular you can see these ideas through the poems of Emily Dickinson, specifically, ???I Had Been Hungry All The Years???, and ???I Gave My Self To Him??? which strongly displays concepts of connections and relationships with people, as well as showing unfulfilled desires, connections with society and yearning for acceptance into the literary community .
Emily Dickinson, throughout her life, has written nearly eighteen hundred poems, and the majority of her poems dealt with concepts of belonging & not belonging, death, and immortality, and have relations with nature . In her poem ???I Had Been Hungry All The Years??? Dickinson explores the ideas of connections and acceptance to society and the literary community. It also involves her connections with nature as a place that she feels comfortable with . Right through this poem, Dickinson uses the first person point of view to express the different ideas in the poem like acceptance and connections with a more personal sense, which will allow the audience to relate to the poem and its ideas more easily.
For example ???I looked in windows for the wealth???. Dickinson also uses a wide variety of metaphors and symbols to represent her feeling towards acceptance in social and poetic community as well as her desire to be included to something that she had been without for so long. This concept can be found in the line ???I looked in windows for the wealth, I could not hope for mine???. It shows that what is inside the windows seems so foreign to the observer, but at the same time, she feels excluded from it. Dickinson also adds ???As berry of a mountain bush, Transplanted to the road??? to show that the ill-fitting nature of belonging has caused her to feel out of place in the change of environment.
Dickinson uses the extended metaphor of her hunger and the longing for the ample bread to symbolise the community she has been excluded from, as in ???I did not know the ample bread???. Although this is the recurring idea through the poem as it ends it emphasises the notion that she rejects what she has been longing for when she is provided with the opportunity she desired, as shown in the line, ???The plenty hurt me, ???twas so new???.
As the previous poem shows ideas of yearning for acceptance and unfulfilled desires, the poem ???I Gave My Self To Him??? shows ideas relating to close personal relationships, particularly, relationships with two people who are married. This poem revolves around an extended metaphor , that is, that she thinks of relationships as an investment. Dickinson uses a range of financial terminology through the poem, like contract, ratified and depreciate, which connects back to the extended metaphor. In the first half of the poem, Dickinson expresses her ideas of relationships in a pessimistic tone, almost as if the two parties are losing themselves or their identity in the relationship.
This relates back to ???I Had Been Hungry All The Years???, in the sense that it is easy for one to lose their sense of identity through longing for acceptance and relationships. As the poem carries on, the tone shifts from cynical to optimistic about the relationship, which can be seen in the words ???Mutual Gain??? and ???sweet debt???, which suggest a positive aspect on the relationship.
In conclusion, the notion of belonging, while being quite complex, is essentially about establishing connections with people, places and the wider community, while the opposite idea of not belonging through lack of connections and acceptance is undoubtedly shown in the poems of Emily Dickinson.

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