“I'm Nobody! Who Are You?” is a lyric poem on the folly of seeking fame. The poem contains only two stanzas, each with four lines. A four-line stanza is called a quatrain. The poem was first published in 1891 in Poems, Series 2, a collection of Miss Dickinson's poems that was edited by two of her friends, Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
“I'm Nobody! Who Are You?” presents the theme that it is better to be a humble nobody than a proud somebody. After all, somebodies have to spend their time maintaining their status by telling the world how great they are. How boring!
How PUB..|..lic, LIKE..|..a FROG
To TELL..|..your NAME..|..the LIVE..|..long DAY
To AN..|..ad MI..|..ring BOG!
The poem has no regular scheme of end rhyme. However, line 1 rhymes with line 2 and line 5 with line 7. Each of these rhymes is masculine. Masculine rhyme occurs when only the final syllable of one line rhymes with the final syllable of another, as in you and too (lines 1 and 2). There are no feminine rhymes in the poem. Feminine rhyme occurs when the final two syllables of a line rhyme with the final two syllables of another line, as in singing and ringing.
Dickinson also uses internal rhyme in the poem. Here are examples.I'm nobody! Who are you?
To tell your name the livelong day (line 7)Satire
The poem satirizes glory seekers as well as their admiring fans. One wonders what Dickinson would say about glory seekers in today's world—the movie stars, athletes, politicians, lawyers, and others who regularly show up on television to toot their horns before admiring audiences. To be sure, many famous people past and present deserve recognition. But there are just as many who seek and gain recognition for trivial pursuits by croaking their names, "like a frog . . . the livelong day."
Dickinson brings the reader into the poem with her use of the pronouns you, we, us, and your. This approach enhances the appeal of the poem, making you feel—ironically—like "somebody" (or at least a worthwhile nobody).
AlliterationThen there's (line 3)