Emily Dickinson, Extroversion, Introversion

Are you extrovert or introvert (if that is based on whether you are recharged or energized by being with people or by being alone)?

And how do you see Emily Dickinson’s poem below?  Is it possible “the soul” is selecting her own self as company or is it definitely another person?  How do you select your nearest and dearest? Is it conscious?   Are you aware of God-direction in it?

Poetry food for thought:

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.

~ by Cary on June 24, 2010.

10 Responses to “Emily Dickinson, Extroversion, Introversion”

  1. I doubt the soul can select itself as the “one” out of an ample nation. It would have to be another soul, would it not? But when Dickinson speaks through this poem she says that she has known of the soul doing such a thing — so it’s not necessarily her soul that ever found the right company.

    I always wondered is there a New England accent that makes gate/mat into an even slant rhyme? The words sound so completely unlike to me.

    I’m not sure that the phenomenon she’s describing, of being so introverted, is really God-directed. The soul is choosing its own society, and seems remarkably unopen to any society God might want it to open to. I think Christians have to renounce “calling their souls their own” and this dreadful lonely majesty that Dickinson describes.

    As for me, I can’t really call myself an introvert or an extrovert. Too much alone-time and too much other-time will tire me equally, and when I get tired of one I’ll need a good dose of the other to revive.

    • I don’t know… I think we can — for ill or good — prefer our own company to any other. And though God always calls us to love the other, I don’t think it exempts us from knowing when we are called to aloneness, which (as you said well) is not all the time. I agree that being unopen to God’s leading or calling our souls our own is not an option.

      I’m going to check out your blog now. Thanks for stopping by. (And I agree with you about the rhyme of gate/mat).

  2. […] via Emily Dickinson, Extroversion, Introversion « Holy Vernacular. […]

  3. Well, the poet that we all know here pretty well, is certainly an introvert. That makes it easy for her to describe herself by using a term like “the soul”. That soul is at once distant and inexorable.

  4. I used to test as an off-the-charts extrovert, but that has modulated somewhat over the years. I’m still decidedly extrovert-ish, but I have learned to connect with and honor my need for time alone to process things. I’m told by another therapist that I/E is the one dimension of the MBTI that sometimes changes over a person’s lifetime, and almost always in the direction of greater introversion. I asked God for a husband, and I asked God for close friendship. God’s gracious answer in both cases was an introvert. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    • Interesting… I think for some people that has to do with what we are socialized to do (particularly in the South vs. what we prefer to do). Would that be a factor, do you think?

  5. Sharon Olds is a current favorite. For a particular spin on your current post, with respect to your wondering about how does one’s freedom of choice intersect with that eternal mystery, or God-directedness, of choosing a mate (if this is what Emily meant by her soul’s “society”), you might look up Olds’ poem “Chamber Thicket.” Let me know what you think, OK?

  6. Stay tuned… I’m writing on this on Friday!

  7. […] Olds’ Chamber Thicket When I wrote about Emily Dickinson and her line about the soul selecting its own society and then shutting the do…, a reader commented, “…how does one’s freedom of choice intersect with that eternal […]

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