“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am,” wrote Sylvia Plath.
And John Ashbery wrote, “My guide in these matters is your self, / Firm, oblique, accepting everything with the same / Wraith of a smile, and as time speeds up so that it is soon / Much later, I can know only the straight way out, / The distance between us.”
When you speak, when you write, how many times do you begin a sentence with the word “I”? Well, it is I who am speaking, I who am writing, but isn’t it odd that the one word that represents my self—I—is the one word I have to share with everyone else?
The “I” of the poet, the “I” of the poem, the “I” of the reader—both Plath and Ashbery write from the poetic I. This is at least a convention of lyric poetry. So, Who is I?