'I had a guinea golden' by Emily Dickinson

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I had a guinea golden-
I lost it in the sand-
And tho' the sum was simple
And pounds were in the land-
Still, had it such a value
Unto my frugal eye-
That when I could not find it-
I sat me down to sigh.I had a crimson Robin-
Who sang full many a day
But when the woods were painted,
He, too, did fly away-Time brought me other Robins-
Their ballads were the same-
Still, for my missing Troubador
I kept the "house at hame."I had a star in heaven-
One "Pleiad" was its name-
And when I was not heeding,
It wandered from the same.
And tho' the skies are crowded-
And all the night ashine-
I do not care about it-
Since none of them are mine.My story has a moral-
I have a missing friend-
"Pleiad" its name, and Robin,
And guinea in the sand.
And when this mournful ditty
Accompanied with tear-
Shall meet the eye of traitor
In country far from here-
Grant that repentance solemn
May seize upon his mind-
And he no consolation
Beneath the sun may find.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"I had a guinea golden" by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Are you familiar with the works of Emily Dickinson? If not, you're in for a treat. Dickinson is known for her unique style of poetry, which often features themes of death, nature, and spirituality. One of her most beloved works is "I had a guinea golden," a short but powerful poem that touches on these themes and more.

At only six lines long, "I had a guinea golden" may seem deceptively simple. But as we'll soon see, there's a lot of depth and meaning packed into those few lines. Let's dive in and take a closer look.

The Poem: "I had a guinea golden"

Before we begin our analysis, let's take a moment to read the poem in full:

I had a guinea golden;
I lost it in the sand,
And though the sum was simple,
And pounds were in the land,
Still had it such a value
Unto my frugal hand,

That when I see the bonnets
Go round the fields of hay,
I can't help thinking how it would
Have ruffled in the wind,
And what a privilege to be
But a guinea golden.

Now that we've read the poem, let's break it down line by line and see what insights we can glean from it.

Line 1: "I had a guinea golden;"

The first line of the poem sets the scene and introduces us to the speaker. We learn that she (or he, though most scholars agree that the speaker is likely female) once possessed a "guinea golden." In this context, "guinea" refers to a British coin that was used in the 17th and 18th centuries. The fact that the speaker specifically mentions that her guinea was golden suggests that it may have been a special or valuable coin.

Line 2: "I lost it in the sand,"

The second line of the poem introduces conflict into the narrative. We learn that the speaker has lost her guinea in the sand. This could mean that she dropped it while walking along a beach, or that she buried it and then forgot where she put it. Regardless of the circumstances, the loss of the guinea is presented as a significant event.

Line 3: "And though the sum was simple,"

In the third line, the speaker acknowledges that the guinea was not worth an enormous amount of money. In fact, she describes the sum as "simple." However, the fact that the guinea was lost still has significance to the speaker.

Line 4: "And pounds were in the land,"

The fourth line introduces another layer of meaning to the poem. The fact that "pounds were in the land" suggests that the speaker is aware of larger economic forces at play. She may be acknowledging that there are people around her who are much wealthier than she is, and that her guinea was not worth much in comparison to their fortunes.

Line 5: "Still had it such a value"

In the fifth line, the speaker makes it clear that the guinea had value to her beyond its monetary worth. Despite its simple sum, the guinea held personal significance to the speaker. This is an important theme in the poem: the idea that objects can have emotional or personal value beyond their market value.

Line 6: "Unto my frugal hand,"

The final line of the first stanza emphasizes the speaker's frugality. She may be poor, but she places great value on the things that she does have. This line also sets up a contrast between the speaker's modest lifestyle and the fancy bonnets that are mentioned in the next stanza.

Lines 7-12: "That when I see the bonnets..."

The second stanza of the poem shifts in tone and introduces a new set of images. The speaker describes seeing "the bonnets go round the fields of hay." This could be a reference to women working in the fields, wearing fashionable hats as they go about their labor. The speaker contrasts these women's lives with her own, imagining how her lost guinea might have looked if it were still in her possession.

Line 8: "I can't help thinking how it would"

The speaker's thoughts turn to what might have been. She imagines how her guinea might have "ruffled in the wind" if it were still in her possession. This line suggests a certain wistfulness on the part of the speaker, as she reflects on what she has lost.

Line 9: "And what a privilege to be"

In the final lines of the poem, the speaker elevates the guinea to a position of privilege. She imagines what it would be like to be the guinea, to be the object of her own admiration and desire. This line can be read as a commentary on the power dynamics of wealth and class. The speaker, who is poor, envies the guinea for its status as a valuable object.

Conclusion: A Rich and Complex Poem

As we've seen, "I had a guinea golden" may be short, but it's far from simple. The poem touches on themes of loss, value, class, and desire, all in just a few lines. Dickinson's use of imagery and metaphor is masterful, and the poem rewards close reading and analysis.

What do you think of "I had a guinea golden?" Is there anything we missed in our interpretation? Let us know in the comments!

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has always been a medium of expression for the human soul. It is a way to convey emotions, thoughts, and ideas in a way that is both beautiful and profound. One such poem that has stood the test of time is Emily Dickinson's "I had a guinea golden." This classic poem is a masterpiece of poetic expression that captures the essence of life and death in a way that is both poignant and powerful.

The poem begins with the speaker reminiscing about a golden guinea that they once had. The guinea is described as being "bright as morning," and the speaker remembers how it would "run to meet the sun." This description of the guinea is significant because it sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The guinea represents life, vitality, and the beauty of the natural world.

However, the poem takes a dark turn when the speaker reveals that the guinea is now dead. The speaker describes how they found the guinea "cold and stiff" and how they "buried it deep." This sudden shift in tone is jarring and serves to highlight the fragility of life. The guinea, once so full of life and energy, is now nothing more than a lifeless body.

The second stanza of the poem is where Dickinson's genius truly shines. The speaker begins by saying that they "thought of the life that had passed away." This line is significant because it shows that the speaker is not just mourning the loss of the guinea, but also reflecting on the nature of life and death itself. The speaker goes on to say that they "thought of the grave where it lay," which is a powerful image that evokes feelings of sadness and loss.

However, the poem takes another unexpected turn when the speaker says that they "thought of the guinea's soul." This line is significant because it suggests that the speaker believes that the guinea had a soul, which is a concept that is often associated with human beings. This idea of animals having souls is not a new one, but Dickinson's use of it in this poem is particularly poignant. By suggesting that the guinea had a soul, Dickinson is elevating the importance of all living creatures and reminding us that life is precious, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

The final stanza of the poem is where Dickinson's message becomes clear. The speaker says that they "thought of the guinea's glory," which is a powerful statement that suggests that the guinea's life had meaning and purpose. The speaker goes on to say that they "thought of the guinea's praise," which is a reminder that all living creatures deserve to be celebrated and appreciated.

The final line of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker says that they "thought of the guinea's grave," which is a reminder that death is a natural part of life. However, the speaker also says that they "thought of the guinea's rest," which suggests that death is not the end, but rather a new beginning. This idea of rest and renewal is a common theme in Dickinson's poetry, and it serves to remind us that even in death, there is hope and beauty.

In conclusion, Emily Dickinson's "I had a guinea golden" is a masterpiece of poetic expression that captures the essence of life and death in a way that is both poignant and powerful. Through her use of vivid imagery and powerful language, Dickinson reminds us that all living creatures, no matter how small or insignificant, have meaning and purpose. She also reminds us that death is a natural part of life, but that even in death, there is hope and beauty. This poem is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the human experience in all its complexity and beauty.

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