The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Everyone Is a World” is a short poem in free verse, its twenty-four lines divided into three stanzas. The title is formed from the first line of the poem; the original poem has no title. In the original collection, it is grouped together with some other poems under the musical subheading “Etydes” (études). The first line captures the main theme of the poem: The mind of each human being is plural, formed by many voices, most of them hidden or silenced.

The poem is written in a collective plural voice, underlining the general tone of the poem, which describes what the poet believes is true of all human beings. Meditating on Sigmund Freud’s three-part description of the human unconscious as id, ego, and superego, the poet illuminates his sense of the inner world of the mind. His vision emphasizes both humankind’s ultimate power and an individual’s powerlessness over him or herself. First, the poet meditates on the suppressed “masses” of the mind, the trapped impulses of desire in constant rebellion against “the rulers” of the ego. Second, he describes the dilemma of the ego as that of a king or a prince who can rule the masses but who in turn is ruled by a higher power. The first stanza closes on a more intimate tone as it brings the reader back to his or her own feelings and to how those feelings change with the power struggle within.

The second stanza further illustrates the struggle between the oppressed and the rulers...

(The entire section is 484 words.)