The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XIII (The Soul Selects Her Own Society)

Image: Emily dickinson journal.gif

Image: Emily dickinson journal.gif (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

Edith: gave an asterisk; a parenthesis around “Then shuts the door;” an underline nod to “majority”

Me: Wow! Emily D shows major deepness once again.  Edith, I’m with you on the asterisk, although I don’t think this one is going to be a favorite, I definitely think it is noteworthy.

First of all, the idea of personifying the soul, even though the soul is who we are as a person, the way Emily states “soul” it becomes an entity entirely separate, and this one has a queenly air.  “Selecting society” reminds me of those old movies we watch in class where Queen Elizabeth talks in third person: We are not pleased.  Emily D’s soul selects her own society, sounding like she is very particular who she allows into her confidences.  She’s got that selective hermit thing going on here.

I don’t use “obtrude”in conversations, yet it makes absolute sense in this setting.  Emily is putting on the ritz–she’s the queen of solitude and letting people know that she is accepting only a few select into her company of manners.

ob·trude audio (b-trd, b-) KEY

ob·trud·ed, ob·trud·ing, ob·trudes

  1. To impose (oneself or one’s ideas) on others with undue insistence or without invitation.
  2. To thrust out; push forward.


To impose oneself on others.
Even if you happen to be royalty dropping by in your royal carriage, she may not acknowledge you. A girl’s got to have her own set of standards, I suppose.  She is “unmoved.” I wonder if she had a lot of people knocking at her door to visit.  Playing hard to get, hard to visit, maybe that made a lot of people curious about seeing if they were special enough to get a nod from the queen of solitude.
The last verse confuses me.
“I’ve known her from an ample nation/Choose one;/then close the valves of her attention/Like stone.”
I hear her saying she has known a lot of people, remaining particular about who she takes in as a friend and once she has made up her mind, that’s it–the rock of decision.
I can relate to the need for being selective about friends, and how solitude is a valuable aspect to life. Emily Dickinson takes it to a whole separate level. Although in a classy way.  We are not receiving today. Please and thank you.

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