(Article/content is below...)

I would not paint - a picture by Emily Dickinson


"It was not Death, for I stood up" is a poem written by Emily Dickinson. In it, Dickinson states she would rather be the audience of art than be the artist. She goes through paintings, music, and poetry. She states that she doesn't stun herself with her own melodies.

Dickinson is simply stating that, often times, it is easier to be surprised by art and be entertained when it is not our own. As well, since art is often times created when the heart is broken or something has gone wrong, she would rather not have those experiences and would prefer to simply be a bystander.

This poem consists of three stanzas with eight lines in each. The poem does not have a rhyme scheme. However, the lines do have somewhat of a fixed scheme in that lines one, three, five, and seven are longer than the others.

Johnson number: 505


It was not Death, for I stood up

I would not paint - a picture -
I'd rather be the One
Its bright impossibility
To dwell - delicious - on -
And wonder how the fingers feel
Who rare - celestial - stir -
Evokes so sweet a Torment -
Such sumptuous - Despair -
I would not talk, like Cornets -
I'd rather be the One
Raised softly to the Ceilings -
And out, and easy on -
Through Villages of Ether -
Myself endued Balloon
By but a lip of Metal -
The pier to my Pontoon -
Nor would I be a Poet -
It's finer - own the Ear -
Enamored - impotent - content -
The License to revere,
A privilege so awful
What would the Dower be,
Had I the Art to stun myself
With Bolts of Melody!

Next: I'm Nobody! Who are You?
Recommended Content
Find out more information about this poem and read others like it.


Literary Movement
19th Century


Last update: