Who thinks a dog a loaded gun? Emily Dickinson did. (internal link)
Dickinson was an extremely modest person who had nothing to be modest about.
Attributing or imagining that animals have human characteristics or feelings has been with us since the Ancients.
Dickinson’s fierceness attribution fits precisely with the role of this hunting dog, as easily as Buck sees his role in Jack London’s Call of the Wild.
Critics say that anthropomorphizing the feelings of animals is misplaced and leads to dangerous conclusions about their nature.
Critics should relax and then go find a human more loyal than the yellow Labrador that sleeps at its Master’s feet. Not human loyalty? Of, course not. It’s better.
My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun
By Emily Dickinson (1830 -1186}
My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –
In Corners – till a Day
The Owner passed – identified –
And carried Me away –
And now We roam in Sovreign Woods –
And now We hunt the Doe –
And every time I speak for Him
The Mountains straight reply –
And do I smile, such cordial light
Opon the Valley glow –
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let it’s pleasure through –
And when at Night – Our good Day done –
I guard My Master’s Head –
’Tis better than the Eider Duck’s
Deep Pillow – to have shared –
To foe of His – I’m deadly foe –
None stir the second time –
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye –
Or an emphatic Thumb –
Though I than He – may longer live
He longer must – than I –
For I have but the power to kill,
Without – the power to die –
Courtright thinks dog and owner stands for other things. I appreciate Dickinson’s depth of thought and her spirituality in other poems, however, I dismiss Courtright’s metaphors for now and in this case leave my conclusions simple.