What is this poem about? That is the first question that the textbook asks about this poem. But, honestly, even a close read of this poem brings out simply an “I don’t know.”
The thing that crashes to the ground sounds like it’s a precious plate, “I heard it hit the ground/and go to pieces on the Stones.” The “Stones” being capitalized might be a hint to the reader that these aren’t just rocks or designer flooring underneath the mantle, they might have some eternal quality to them like the Rock of Ages. The next line is a hint to the reader that this is, in fact, not a corporeal thing, but a metaphorical thing, “go to pieces… at the bottom of my mind.” So, some idea is being shattered. It must have been an idea that she exalted for she writes that she entertained “Plated Wares/upon [her] Silver Shelf.” Plated usually means gold plated – at least for dishes, and the shelf that belongs to her in her mind is silver like a silver lining in the clouds, the great silver eternity that could be heaven or at least our concept of heaven.
I suppose I could say that this thing is her ego. I had coincidentally received a similar ego shattering experience. And notice that I use the word “shatter” to describe the destruction of the ego, so how perfect to use a plate as a metaphor for the exalted ego! That shattering felt exactly like a beautiful plate falling from a high up mantle to the stones below which are always there to greet us when we fail (or we put ourselves up on a pedestal). Perhaps if she can know some humility my own taste of crow shouldn’t be so gamy on my tongue.
It Dropped So Low – In My Regard
by Emily Dickinson
It dropped so low – in my Regard –
I heard it hit the Ground –
And go to pieces on the Stones
At bottom of my Mind –
Yet blamed the Fate that flung it – less
Than I denounced Myself,
For entertaining Plated Wares
Upon My Sliver Shelf –