So Bashful When I Spied Her, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

In "SO BASHFUL WHEN I SPIED HER!" Emily Dickinson explores themes of shyness, secrecy, and the complex emotions associated with encountering something delicate and precious. The poem delves into the speaker's observations and interactions with a shy and hidden subject, and the ensuing emotions that arise from this encounter.


So bashful when I spied her,
So pretty, so ashamed !
So hidden in her leaflets,
Lest anybody find ;
So breathless till I passed her,
So helpless when I turned
And bore her, struggling, blushing,
Her simple haunts beyond !
For whom I robbed the dingle,
For whom betrayed the dell,
Many will doubtless ask me,
But I shall never tell !


"SO BASHFUL WHEN I SPIED HER!" depicts the speaker's encounter with a delicate and bashful subject, possibly a flower or a symbol of innocence. The subject is portrayed as shy and hidden, as if seeking to avoid notice. The speaker observes the subject's delicate appearance and reactions, and the poem suggests a sense of secrecy and intimacy.

Critical Analysis

The poem is imbued with a sense of curiosity and tenderness. The repetition of "So" emphasizes the delicate and bashful nature of the subject, which captures the speaker's attention. The subject's "leaflets" and "simple haunts" evoke a sense of vulnerability and fragility.

The phrases "So breathless till I passed her" and "So helpless when I turned" convey the subject's response to the speaker's presence. These lines suggest a certain sensitivity, as if the subject is affected by the observer's attention. The act of "bore her, struggling, blushing" implies that the speaker is taking the subject away from its hidden place, exposing it to the world.

The speaker's assertion that they will "never tell" whom the subject is for adds an air of mystery and secrecy to the poem. This withholding of information creates a sense of intimacy between the speaker and the subject, and also invites the reader to ponder the meaning of the encounter.


  • Shyness and Secrecy: The poem explores the shyness and hidden nature of the subject, as well as the sense of secrecy and intimacy that accompanies it.
  • Observation and Interaction: The speaker's observations and interactions with the subject evoke curiosity, tenderness, and a desire to understand its significance.


  • Curiosity: The speaker's observations of the bashful subject are filled with curiosity and wonder.
  • Tenderness: The delicate nature of the subject and its reactions evoke feelings of tenderness and care.
  • Secrecy: The poem hints at a sense of secrecy and intimacy, particularly with the speaker's assertion that they will "never tell."


  • Imagery: The use of imagery, such as "hidden in her leaflets" and "struggling, blushing," paints a vivid picture of the subject's appearance and reactions.
  • Repetition: The repetition of "So" emphasizes the subject's delicate and bashful nature, drawing attention to its characteristics.

Consider instances in your life when you encountered something or someone delicate and shy. How did you react to it? Did you feel a sense of curiosity and tenderness, similar to the speaker's emotions in the poem? Share your thoughts and reflections in the comments below, and let's explore the nuances of encounters with the bashful and hidden.

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