In my opinion, I’m Nobody! Who are you? is a poem about not wanting to be in the public eye and wanting to remain anonymous.
This is created in the use of pronouns throughout the poem. It uses the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’ and ‘us’. This use of direct address creates a very personal touch to the poem. This links to the theme of privacy as often people think that being public is to loose your privacy and for everyone to know everything about you. So it could suggest that the person prefers being close with people rather than being known. It draws the reader into the poem and makes them feel involved in the poem though the use of direct address and the personal tone this creates. The personal tone is also created by the short clauses and the use of punctuation in the poem, these give the poem an informal tone that is conversational and makes it easy for the audience to feel a part of the poem.
The pronouns could also links to the idea of being anonymous as it doesn’t use names or any clear sign of identification in the poem. The use of the ‘us’ pronoun creates ideas of the outsider and the idea of us against them. This is typical of literature as characters and personas are often seen as underdogs and this makes them relatable.
The simile ‘how public, like a frog to tell your name the lifelong day to an admiring bog’ shows the personas hatred of fame. By using the noun ‘frog’ to describe a person who is public shows her contempt as frogs are seen as disgusting, slimy creatures. It shows that the persona sees the people who want fame to be disgusting and animalistic (almost like they’re desperate to be known). It could suggest that being public makes you lose yourself and that have now lost their humanity. The use of the word ‘name’ shows that the persona doesn’t see names as important and in critiquing these people’s want for their name to be known it shows that she sees other things as being more important. The oxymoron ‘admiring bog’ adds to this idea. The adjective ‘admiring’ has images of being adored whereas a ‘bog’ is a toilet. This therefore shows that the persona doesn’t think it is important to be admired. It shows that being adored by a person (who is nothing more that an object as they have no personality other than being obsessed with the new thing) is unimportant and isn’t needed in life. However it could suggest that the persona would rather be admired by something with substance, so instead of a ‘bog’ admiring her she wants an intelligent person to adore her.
The fact that her poems don’t have titles is atypical of 19th century poems as they usually do have titles. Also the use of short lines and clauses is atypical. This atypical form suggests that the persona holds contempt for the poets of the time and it links to the idea present in the poem that being public is bad. It suggests that Dickenson herself doesn’t want to be known in the public and that she is a private person. Dickenson was a very private poet and she herself never published her poems. It shows that she was more concerned about creating good art that meant something rather than doing what was expected of her and becoming famous.
During the 19th century people of a high class would be absorbed in whoever was seen as the new big thing and this person would be shown to all the other high class people and shown off by people who knew them. So this whole poem is making fun of this process and in particular the people who want to be known. However, this admiring of people is still present if not more present today in the modern world. This therefore makes the poem relatable no matter when it is read and the poem is almost timeless.