'You said that I "was Great"-one Day' by Emily Dickinson

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You said that I "was Great"-one Day-
Then "Great" it be-if that please Thee-
Or Small-or any size at all-
Nay-I'm the size suit Thee-Tall-like the Stag-would that?
Or lower-like the Wren-
Or other heights of Other Ones
I've seen?Tell which-it's dull to guess-
And I must be Rhinoceros
Or Mouse-
At once-for Thee-So say-if Queen it be-
Or Page-please Thee-
I'm that-or nought-
Or other thing-if other thing there be-
With just this Stipulus-
I suit Thee-

Editor 1 Interpretation

"You said that I was Great - one Day" by Emily Dickinson

I cannot even begin to express how much I love Emily Dickinson's poetry. Her ability to capture the complexity of human emotions and experiences through simple yet powerful language never ceases to amaze me. And "You said that I was Great - one Day" is no exception.

At first glance, the poem may seem straightforward: the speaker is addressing someone who has complimented them in the past, but now seems to have changed their opinion. However, as with most of Dickinson's work, there is much more going on beneath the surface.

Let's dive into the poem and explore its various themes and interpretations.

The Power of Words

The first thing that struck me about this poem is how it highlights the power of words. The speaker acknowledges that the person they are addressing once said something that made them feel great, but now those words have lost their meaning. It's as if the speaker's entire sense of self-worth was tied to that one compliment, and now that it's gone, they feel lost and uncertain.

This theme of the power of words is not unique to this poem - it's present in much of Dickinson's work. In "A Word dropped careless on a Page," she writes:

A word dropped careless on a page
May stimulate an eye
When folded in perpetual seam
The Wrinkled Maker lie

Again, we see the idea that words have the power to inspire, to move us, to change us. But just as easily, they can be forgotten, ignored, or misunderstood.

The Fragility of Self-Worth

Another theme that emerges from "You said that I was Great - one Day" is the fragility of self-worth. The speaker's entire sense of identity seems to be tied to the opinion of someone else. When that opinion changes, they are left questioning their own value.

This is a common human experience - we all have moments where our self-worth feels precarious, where we feel like we are only as good as the praise we receive from others. And yet, as Dickinson suggests, this is a dangerous mindset. If we rely too heavily on others for validation, we risk losing ourselves entirely.

The Search for Meaning

The final theme that I want to explore in this poem is the search for meaning. Throughout the poem, the speaker is searching for something that will give their life purpose and direction. They long for the feeling of being "great" once again, but they can't seem to find it.

This search for meaning is a universal human experience. We all want to feel like our lives have purpose, that we are making a difference in the world. And yet, as Dickinson reminds us, this search is not always easy. We may feel lost, uncertain, and alone at times. But even in those moments, there is always the possibility of finding meaning if we keep searching.


In conclusion, "You said that I was Great - one Day" is a powerful poem that explores themes of the power of words, the fragility of self-worth, and the search for meaning. Through simple yet powerful language, Emily Dickinson captures the complexity of the human experience in a way that is both timeless and relevant to our lives today. As with all great works of literature, this poem invites us to reflect on our own lives, our own struggles and triumphs, and to find hope and meaning in the midst of it all.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

"You said that I was Great" - A Masterpiece by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson, one of the most celebrated American poets of the 19th century, is known for her unique style of writing that often explores themes of death, nature, and spirituality. Her poem "You said that I was Great - one Day" is a perfect example of her exceptional talent and poetic genius.

The Poem

You said that I was Great - one Day -
Then Great it be - if that please thee -
Or Small - or any size at all -
Nay - I'm the size suit me -

The poem is a short and simple one, consisting of only four lines. However, the depth of meaning and the complexity of emotions that it conveys are truly remarkable.


The poem begins with the speaker recalling a time when someone told her that she was great. The identity of the person is not revealed, but it is clear that their words had a profound impact on the speaker. The use of the past tense suggests that this event happened some time ago, and the speaker is reflecting on it now.

The second line is a response to the compliment. The speaker says that if being great pleases the person who said it, then she will accept it. However, she also adds that she is okay with being small or any size at all. This line is significant because it shows that the speaker is not defined by external validation or praise. She is comfortable with who she is, regardless of what others think of her.

The third line is a continuation of the previous one, where the speaker asserts that she is the size that suits her. This line is a powerful statement of self-acceptance and self-love. The speaker is not trying to fit into anyone else's idea of what is great or small. She is content with being herself, and that is all that matters.

The poem ends with the word "me," which emphasizes the speaker's individuality and uniqueness. The use of the word "Nay" instead of "No" is also significant because it adds a touch of old-fashioned charm to the poem and reinforces the speaker's independence and self-assurance.


The poem explores several themes that are central to Emily Dickinson's work. One of the most prominent themes is self-acceptance. The speaker is comfortable with who she is and does not need external validation to feel good about herself. This theme is also related to the idea of individuality and uniqueness. The speaker is not trying to conform to anyone else's standards or expectations. She is happy being herself, and that is all that matters.

Another theme that the poem touches upon is the power of words. The speaker is still thinking about the compliment that was given to her, even though it happened some time ago. This suggests that words can have a lasting impact on a person's psyche. The fact that the speaker is reflecting on the compliment also shows that it was meaningful to her. This theme is related to the idea of perception and how we see ourselves and others. The person who said the compliment saw something great in the speaker, and that perception had a positive effect on her.


"You said that I was Great - one Day" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that showcases Emily Dickinson's talent and poetic genius. The poem explores themes of self-acceptance, individuality, and the power of words. The speaker's assertion that she is the size that suits her is a powerful statement of self-love and self-assurance. The poem is a reminder that we should all strive to be comfortable with who we are and not let external validation define us.

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