What is the theme of Emily Dickinson's poem "How Happy is the Little Stone"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This poem by Emily Dickinson suggests that it is much easier and more enjoyable being a small, inconsequential object overlooked by everybody else than it is to be human and to have all the responsibility and obligation that comes with that identity. A little stone, Dickinson suggests, doesn't have to worry about "Careers" or the various "exigencies" that plague us as humans. Note how Dickinson ends the poem to cement her argument that the "little stone" is much happier than humans:

And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity—

Dickinson implicitly sets up a comparison between the life of a human and the life of a stone, and finds the life of a stone much easier and more simple than the life of a human. A stone is able to fulfill its "absolute Decree / In casual simplicity--", or fulfill its purpose simply and without any confusion. This poem suggests that the life of a human is far more complex, and that the speaker is struggling to do exactly what she envies that stone for doing so easily. The stone is independent of itself and able to fulfill its purpose without the various worries and concerns that plague humans. Dickinson sees this and finds herself intensely envious of this simplicity.

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