the archivist May 2, 2006

Emily Dickinson

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise—you know!

How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one’s name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!


A pair of them?

I’m intrigued that there are two substantially different versions of this poem that continue to appear quite frequently in anthologies and online. The “advertise” version, usually numbered 288, was once obscure, but now seems to have driven the other version out of Dickinson’s collected works on the Internet. Before the post-1960’s flood of Dickinson scholarship, the following version (with not-so-Dickinsonian punctuation) was much better known. It is the version, I believe, that was in my elementary-school poetry anthology:


I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us–don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!



amzn | lib

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