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I started Early — Took my Dog — Summary & Analysis
by Emily Dickinson

The influential American poet Emily Dickinson wrote "I started Early – Took my Dog –" sometime around 1862. In the poem, a young woman walks to the shore with her dog and looks at the sea. The boats and mermaids seem to call out to the speaker, while the water, treated as a male figure in the poem, begins to creep up the speaker's body. She initially seems excited by this, but as the tide turns and the sea makes to consume the speaker, she abruptly turns away and rushes back to town. According to many readers, these events suggest that the speaker experiences a sexual awakening yet struggles to embrace her own sexual desires. The poem can also be read as being more generally about the allure of adventure, escape, and temptation, and about the simultaneous thrill and fear of embracing the new and unknown. The poem features common meter, as is the case with much of Dickinson's writing. Dickinson left her work untitled, and this poem's title is taken from its first line.

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