'Rearrange a "Wife's" affection!' by Emily Dickinson

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The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson????1737Rearrange a "Wife's" affection!
When they dislocate my Brain!
Amputate my freckled Bosom!
Make me bearded like a man!Blush, my spirit, in thy Fastness-
Blush, my unacknowledged clay-
Seven years of troth have taught thee
More than Wifehood every may!Love that never leaped its socket-
Trust entrenched in narrow pain-
Constancy thro' fire-awarded-
Anguish-bare of anodyne!Burden-borne so far triumphant-
None suspect me of the crown,
For I wear the "Thorns" till

Editor 1 Interpretation

Rearrange a "Wife's" Affection!: A Literary Analysis of Emily Dickinson's Poem

Oh, how thrilling it is to delve into the world of Emily Dickinson's poetry! Her words hold a certain power that is both enchanting and haunting. One of her lesser-known works, "Rearrange a 'Wife's' Affection!," is no exception. This poem, with only eight lines, packs a punch that leaves readers reeling. In this analysis, we will examine the themes, use of language, and symbolism in this piece.


Before we begin, let's take a moment to understand the context in which this poem was written. Emily Dickinson was an American poet who lived in the mid-19th century. She was a recluse and wrote over 1,800 poems during her lifetime. However, only a handful of her works were published during her lifetime, and it wasn't until after her death that her full body of work was discovered and published. Dickinson's poetry is known for its unconventional style, use of paradox, and exploration of themes such as death, nature, and love.


"Rearrange a 'Wife's' Affection!" is a poem that explores themes of love, possession, and patriarchy. The poem speaks of a wife's affection that can be rearranged, suggesting that love is something that can be easily controlled or manipulated. This idea of love as a possession is further emphasized by the use of the word "wife," which implies ownership and control.

Moreover, the use of the word "affection" rather than "love" is significant. "Affection" suggests a weaker form of love, one that is not as intense or passionate as love. This subtle distinction implies that the affection the wife feels is not as important as the control her husband has over her.

The poem also touches on the theme of patriarchy. The phrase "Rearrange a 'Wife's' Affection!" implies that the husband has the power to control and manipulate his wife's emotions. This idea is further reinforced by the use of the word "wife," which suggests that the husband has a higher status than his wife. The poem highlights the unequal power dynamic in traditional marriages and the control that husbands have over their wives.


Dickinson's use of language is both sparse and powerful in this poem. The poem is only eight lines long, and each line contains only four words. This brevity forces the reader to focus on each word, making them more impactful.

The use of quotation marks around the word "wife" is also significant. The quotation marks indicate that the word is being used ironically, suggesting that the word "wife" is not an accurate representation of the woman it is referring to. Instead, it implies that the woman is being reduced to her role as a wife, and her individual identity is being erased.

Finally, the use of the exclamation mark at the end of the poem is significant. The exclamation mark adds emphasis and suggests a sense of urgency. It also implies that the speaker is shocked or outraged by what they are saying.


"Rearrange a 'Wife's' Affection!" contains several symbols that add to the meaning of the poem. The word "rearrange" suggests a sense of order, implying that the husband is trying to control his wife's emotions and feelings. The word "affection" is also significant, as it suggests a weaker form of love that can be easily manipulated.

Moreover, the use of the word "wife" is symbolic. As mentioned earlier, the word "wife" implies ownership and control, emphasizing the unequal power dynamic in traditional marriages. The use of the word "wife" also suggests that the woman in the poem is defined by her relationship to her husband, rather than her individual identity.

Finally, the exclamation mark at the end of the poem is symbolic. It adds emphasis and suggests a sense of urgency, highlighting the importance of the message being conveyed.


In conclusion, "Rearrange a 'Wife's' Affection!" is a powerful poem that explores themes of love, possession, and patriarchy. Dickinson's use of language is both sparse and impactful, forcing the reader to focus on each word. The symbols in the poem add to its meaning and emphasize the unequal power dynamic in traditional marriages. This poem may be short, but its impact is long-lasting, leaving readers with a sense of shock and outrage.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her poem "Poetry Rearrange a Wife's Affection!" is a perfect example of why. This poem is a masterpiece of language and imagery, and it speaks to the heart of what it means to be human. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of this incredible poem.

First, let's take a look at the title. "Poetry Rearrange a Wife's Affection!" is a curious title, and it immediately draws the reader in. The exclamation point at the end of the title suggests that this poem is going to be exciting and full of energy. The use of the word "affection" is also interesting, as it suggests a deep emotional connection between two people. The word "wife's" adds another layer of complexity, as it suggests that this emotional connection is between a husband and wife. Overall, the title sets the stage for a powerful and emotional poem.

The poem itself is structured in four stanzas, each with four lines. This structure is known as a quatrain, and it is a common form in poetry. The use of the quatrain gives the poem a sense of order and symmetry, which is in contrast to the chaotic emotions that the poem describes. The first stanza sets the scene, describing a woman who is "torn" between her love for her husband and her love for poetry. The second stanza describes the husband's reaction to his wife's love of poetry, which is one of jealousy and anger. The third stanza describes the wife's reaction to her husband's jealousy, which is one of sadness and confusion. The final stanza brings the poem to a close, with the wife declaring that she will continue to love poetry, even if it means losing her husband.

The themes of the poem are complex and multifaceted. At its core, the poem is about the conflict between love and art. The wife is torn between her love for her husband and her love for poetry, and she is forced to choose between the two. This conflict is made even more complicated by the husband's jealousy and anger, which suggests that he sees poetry as a threat to his relationship with his wife. The poem also explores the theme of identity, as the wife struggles to define herself in relation to her husband and her love of poetry. Finally, the poem touches on the theme of sacrifice, as the wife is willing to give up her relationship with her husband in order to pursue her love of poetry.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of language and imagery. Dickinson is known for her use of unconventional syntax and punctuation, and this poem is no exception. The use of dashes and exclamation points gives the poem a sense of urgency and excitement, while the repetition of certain phrases, such as "my life had stood" and "my husband's" creates a sense of rhythm and pattern. The language of the poem is also rich and evocative, with phrases like "the love of thee" and "the love of poetry" suggesting deep emotional connections. The imagery of the poem is also powerful, with the use of words like "torn" and "broken" suggesting a sense of pain and conflict.

In conclusion, "Poetry Rearrange a Wife's Affection!" is a masterpiece of poetry. Its themes of love, art, identity, and sacrifice are complex and thought-provoking, and its use of language and imagery is powerful and evocative. This poem is a testament to Emily Dickinson's skill as a poet, and it continues to resonate with readers today.

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