I had something that I called mine by Emily Dickinson: Summary and Analysis

I had something that I called mine was written in 1859 by Emily Dickinson. Here she deals with her frequent occurring death theme, but in a different playful manner. The use of short lines and legal jargons like a bailiff, arms, vindicate, council, help deliver the carefree touch.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

God and the speaker lived in harmony for a long time. But suddenly the sense of possessiveness in both come to surface and their amity and peace is disturbed by their rival claims. However, the poem is not explicit here in what these rival claims are.

The rival claims are hinted at second paragraph. The dispute is about the property--the speaker's garden or her metaphorical life. The speaker had sown it and nursed it with loving care. But the God claims that it is his property and sends a Bailiff (agent) there. Garden here metaphorically could mean life and God’s claim could be the oncoming of death. And in the same manner Bailiff metaphorically stands for Death, an agent of God.

The nature of the rank or status of the contestants in the law-suit forbids them from giving publicity to their dispute. But justice is more sublime than the line of descent. So the speaker is determined to fight out the case. She does not like the encroachment of any third party in her garden and wants to have justice at any cost for the damage. The poet makes her decision known that she will institute a legal action against her rival. Justice has to be established. She advises God to Choose His Counsel and she prefers to retain 'Shaw'.

The poem is an illustration of Emily Dickinson’s wit. The delightful quarrel between God and poet and their rival claims give rise to the poem filled with legal terminology: The climax of the poet's wit is when she advises God to seek His legal counsel while she would be content with books written by Shaw, a contemporary obscure legal practitioner and writer of law books.

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Shrestha, Roma. "I had something that I called mine by Emily Dickinson: Summary and Analysis." BachelorandMaster, 13 Dec. 2017, bachelorandmaster.combritishandamericanpoetry/i-had-something-that-i-called-mine-summary-analysis.html.