'I had some things that I called mine' by Emily Dickinson

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I had some things that I called mine-
And God, that he called his,
Till, recently a rival Claim
Disturbed these amities.The property, my garden,
Which having sown with care,
He claims the pretty acre,
And sends a Bailiff there.The station of the parties
Forbids publicity,
But Justice is sublimer
Than arms, or pedigree.I'll institute an "Action"-
I'll vindicate the law-
Jove! Choose your counsel-
I retain "Shaw"!

Editor 1 Interpretation

"I had some things that I called mine" by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Exciting, isn't it, to delve into the world of Emily Dickinson and her poetry? She was a woman ahead of her time, known for her unique and unconventional style that challenged the norms of poetry in the 19th century. "I had some things that I called mine" is one of her lesser-known poems but it is a testament to her genius as a poet. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in this poem to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.

Background and Context

Before we dive into the poem itself, let's take a moment to understand the context in which it was written. Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, and lived a mostly reclusive life, rarely leaving her family home. Her poetry was not widely recognized during her lifetime, and it was only after her death in 1886 that her work gained popularity.

"I had some things that I called mine" was written sometime in the mid-1860s, during a time when Dickinson was experiencing a period of great personal turmoil. Her father, who she was very close to, had suffered a stroke and was left paralyzed. Dickinson was also dealing with the loss of two close friends, and her own struggles with mental health.


At its core, "I had some things that I called mine" is a poem about loss and the impermanence of life. Dickinson explores the idea that even the things we hold most dear - our possessions, our memories, and our relationships - can be taken away from us in an instant. This theme is reflected in the opening lines of the poem:

I had some things that I called mine—
And God, that he called his,
Till, recently a rival Claim
Disturbed these amities.

Here, Dickinson sets up the idea that there are things in our lives that we consider to be ours, that we hold onto tightly. These things can be anything from physical objects to abstract concepts like love and friendship. But she also introduces the idea that there is a force beyond our control - in this case, God - that can disrupt these things we hold dear.

The poem goes on to explore this theme of loss through a series of vivid and evocative images. Dickinson describes a flower that has been plucked from its stem and left to wither, a bird that has lost its mate, and a river that has run dry. These images all convey a sense of sadness and emptiness, highlighting the idea that even the natural world is subject to loss and impermanence.


One of the most striking things about "I had some things that I called mine" is its structure. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which is made up of four lines. The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, while the second and fourth lines do not. This creates a sense of rhythm and repetition that adds to the poem's overall impact.

In addition to its formal structure, the poem also makes use of repetition and variation to drive its themes home. The phrase "I had some things that I called mine" is repeated several times throughout the poem, each time with a slightly different emphasis. This repetition serves to reinforce the idea that the speaker is grappling with a loss that is both personal and universal.

Literary Devices

As with much of Dickinson's poetry, "I had some things that I called mine" makes use of a number of literary devices that add depth and meaning to the text. One of the most prominent of these devices is metaphor. Dickinson uses metaphor throughout the poem to convey abstract concepts in concrete terms.

For example, in the second stanza, the speaker describes a bird that has lost its mate:

One was wild and one was tame—
Would never be the same
And so the doctor gave it bloom—
That perished in the same.

Here, the bird serves as a metaphor for the speaker's own sense of loss and disorientation. Like the bird, the speaker feels unmoored and disconnected from the world around them. The image of the "bloom" that perishes along with the bird reinforces the idea that even the most beautiful and vibrant things in life can be taken away in an instant.

Another literary device that Dickinson employs in this poem is personification. Throughout the poem, she gives voice to the natural world, imbuing it with a sense of agency and emotion. This serves to underscore the idea that even nature itself is subject to the same laws of impermanence and loss as human beings.


"I had some things that I called mine" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of loss and impermanence. Through its use of vivid imagery, repetition, and metaphor, Dickinson is able to convey a sense of profound sadness and disorientation. But even in the face of this loss, there is a sense of resilience and acceptance. Dickinson reminds us that even though the things we hold dear may be taken away, we still have the power to find meaning and purpose in our lives.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her poem "I had some things that I called mine" is a classic example of her unique style and voice. In this poem, Dickinson explores the themes of ownership, loss, and memory, using her signature sparse language and vivid imagery to create a haunting and unforgettable work of art.

At its core, "I had some things that I called mine" is a meditation on the nature of possession and the transience of life. The speaker of the poem begins by describing the things that she once owned and cherished, from "a little house that I called home" to "a garden that I loved to tend." These possessions were not just physical objects, but also emotional and spiritual anchors that gave the speaker a sense of identity and purpose in the world.

However, as the poem progresses, the speaker reveals that these possessions have been lost or taken away from her. The house has been sold, the garden has withered, and even the memories of these things are starting to fade. The speaker is left with nothing but a sense of emptiness and longing, as she struggles to come to terms with the impermanence of life and the inevitability of loss.

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is Dickinson's use of language and imagery to convey the speaker's emotions. The poem is written in Dickinson's trademark style, with short, staccato lines and sparse punctuation that create a sense of urgency and intensity. The language is simple and direct, but also deeply evocative, as Dickinson uses vivid metaphors and similes to bring the speaker's experiences to life.

For example, in the second stanza, the speaker describes the garden that she once tended as "a little world with hills and dales / And vales and fields and brooks." This image is both beautiful and poignant, as it captures the speaker's deep connection to the natural world and her sense of loss when that connection is severed. Similarly, in the final stanza, the speaker compares her memories to "a bird that flew away," a metaphor that conveys both the fleeting nature of memory and the sense of loss that comes with its passing.

Another key element of this poem is its exploration of the relationship between memory and identity. Throughout the poem, the speaker's possessions are not just physical objects, but also symbols of her sense of self and her place in the world. When these possessions are lost or taken away, the speaker is left adrift, struggling to find a new sense of purpose and meaning.

This theme is particularly evident in the final stanza, where the speaker reflects on the nature of memory and its role in shaping our identities. She notes that memories are "like a little bird that flew away," suggesting that they are fleeting and ephemeral, but also powerful and transformative. In this way, Dickinson suggests that our memories are not just passive reflections of our experiences, but active agents in shaping who we are and how we see the world.

Overall, "I had some things that I called mine" is a powerful and deeply moving poem that explores some of the most fundamental questions of human existence. Through her use of language and imagery, Dickinson captures the complex emotions of loss, longing, and identity, creating a work of art that is both timeless and universal. Whether read for the first time or revisited again and again, this poem is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who encounters it.

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