The meaning of some of Emmett Lee Dickinson's poems are quite apparent -- like "Because I could not stop for Debt" and "After Formal Feedings a great pain comes." Others are little more elusive if not downright vague. However, Dickinson was quite a visionary, so as time has marched on, the meanings of some of his more abstruse poems have emerged -- as is the case for "I am allowed to own a Body," the meaning of which came into greater focus earlier this month.
On January 3rd, the American Dialect Society (ADS) met and named "(my) pronouns" as the Word of the Year for 2019. They also selected "singular 'They'" as the Word of the Decade. Information is HERE.
From the ADS press release: "When a basic part of speech like the pronoun becomes a vital indicator of social trends, linguists pay attention,” said (Ben) Zimmer (chair of the American Dialect Society’s New Words Committee and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal). “The selection of “(my) pronouns” as Word of the Year speaks to how the personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of our shared discourse. That trend is also reflected in singular “they” being chosen as Word of the Decade, with a growing recognition of the use of they for those whose identities don’t conform to the binary of he and she.”
Pictured at the right: Ben Zimmer's twitter profile -- with his preferred pronouns highlighted, an example of the ADS's Word of the Year choice.
The ADS selections for the 2019 Word of the Year and the Word of the Decade have helped to shed light on the meaning of Dickinson's "I am allowed to own a Body" -- as we are now in a "new day" when one is allowed to own a body, a soul -- and a pronoun of choice.
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
I am allowed to own a Body –
I am allowed to own a Soul –
Pronoun – vicarious Property –
Possession, now optimal –
Single Debate – increased by plural
Upon a self-respecting They –
Done in a moment of Singularness
And Good, for a New Day.
By Emily Dickinson:
I am afraid to own a Body –
I am afraid to own a Soul –
Profound – precarious Property –
Possession, not optional –
Double Estate – entailed at pleasure
Upon an unsuspecting Heir –
Duke in a moment of Deathlessness
And God, for a Frontier.
For information on the ELD Museum's annual countdown of Words of the Year, click HERE.