I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod.
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels — twice descending
Reimbursed my store —
Burglar! Banker — Father!
I am poor once more!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem I never lost as much but twice


  1. Greg says:

    It’s an obscure poem (Dickinson, right?), so it’s difficult to know what exactly is going on here. I think the religious topics are just metaphors that hide psychological issues. The poem is thus subjected to interpretation and each reader can see something different in it. It seems that there was something recurrent going on in her life, some kind of loss or trauma, that would happen again and again.

  2. Russell says:

    In the Sod – what does it mean exactly ?
    Part of the soil or dust where the dead are buried ?

    • Judy B. says:

      Sod means a grave. So the poet is saying she has had two previous losses of loved ones to death and a third one just occurred.

  3. Sara says:

    This poem is about death and begging to God for mercy. Dickinson has lost so many people in her life, 2 friends at around the time she wrote this poem. She is simply calling out to God…”Burglar!Banker-Father!”…saying that ‘God, you put out a loan for loved ones for me, but you take them away much too soon.” So while she believes in God’s great divinity she is “poor once more” because she is alone, without her freinds, again.

  4. frumpo says:

    The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. (Job 1:21)

  5. Katrina says:

    In Dickinson’s poem, “I never lost as Much but Twice”, she reveals that she has had two false conversions; meaning she felt that she had experienced salvation twice. She reveals this by using the title, and the line, “Twice I have stood a beggar at the door of God.” Rather then finding any blame in herself for not being saved, she threw the blame on God. God sent down angels to tease her; giving her hope and taking it away again. “Angels twice descending-reimbursed my store” It is because of this experience that she questions God’s morality and refers to him as a burglar. He gave her hope, and took it away. Twice. She is also contradicting herself because in a sense, if she had two false conversions, God cannot be real… yet at the same time, she believes that the angels are teasing her and she shows resentment about it… so then God must be real.

  6. Ken says:

    Good concrete reading of this Dickinson poem. But I think you may be reading “poor” too literally… i.e. financially. One can be poor in spirit, poor in soul, and the “theft,” that which was taken away from her (making her “poor,” in her metaphor) seemed to be the lives of two loved ones (certainly more than two, in her biography, but two in the poem)– the latest seeming to be her… father? She descibes herself as a beggar at God’s door (a God who gives and takes away)–not the bank’s door. But the poem dates from circa 1858, when Emily would have been about 27 or so. Her father died in 1874. So… maybe the Father in the poem is also symbolic. Father as in God, i.e. the “spiritual death” of her faith? Seems too early for that. And it’s not clear that the “Father” is the deceased. But maybe this isn’t a sad poem at all– Is she saying that at each “sod” death, angels descended her and “restored her”? But she remains “poor.” Perhaps, she’s saying, despite these angels, her faith remains “robbed.” That is, even though the angels descended, they have not resurrected the dead– thus she remains “poor,” — without these loved ones. Tricky ending. Anyone have further insights?

  7. James says:

    Hassan: Emily uses “sod” in the sense of “soil” or “dirt.” In this context, the sod is part of the burial of the dead (she “lost” them in the ground where they were buried).

  8. Mon says:

    In my point of view,through this poem,the poet wants to illustrate a certain state of human mind.When we face some adverse situation,(I am poor once again)we remember the past sorrows but prominet ones.And finally,like always,we have to surrender to the supreme power.But,though we know that the ultimate destination is God,sometime we show attitude of momentary irreverence towards God.

  9. Hassan says:

    I like this kind of poetry
    but here what is the exact meaning of the sod
    grass land or fellow, chap or …

    my best

  10. Hassan says:

    I like this kind of poetry
    but here what is the exact meaning of: the sod
    And that was in the sod
    grass land or fellow, chap or …brat

    I want to translate it to Arabic
    but ….

    my best

    • Zopuia says:

      Since the poem is about the death of her two friends .Sod could basically mean death, like the phrases under the sod which means dead and buried in a grave.

  11. bobby says:

    all the kids read cut themselves ,and are very boring kids

  12. taylor says:

    I love this poem. There are many ways to interpret a poem and this is the way i interpret it. in emily’s life she lost two friends. in this poem, it shows how she felt. she begged God to keep her friends here on earth. Both times God sent angels to help her. she is poor once more because she doesn’t want to live anymore after her friends died. she is calling God a burglar, banker and father. i like how she includes burglar and banker because a burglar takes without asking and a banker takes as well, just asking and she’s calling God both.

  13. D Martinez says:

    The themes that can be noticeable on Emily Dickinson’s poems are love, death, and pain. Emily knew that happiness walks by hand with sadness, and death is always behind, following a “self” directly or indirectly. For example in “I never lost as much but twice,” I see one a HAPPY person trying to commit suicide one more time. “Twice have I stood a beggar / Before the door of God /Angels — twice descending / Reimbursed my store –,” twice she has tried to kill herself but God, possibly thinking is not her time to leave this world had sent his angels to keep her alive. “I am poor once more,” she is sad and miserable again. From my point of view she wanted to be dead, but death refuses to take her hand now she is in pain and poor once more. LOVE, DEATH, and PAIN, are essentials in a person’s life because every human being at one time or another experiences the needs for love or the unwelcome pain of death. Who on this UNIVERSE has not opened his/her doors to this UNIVERSALS feelings, gladness, melancholy, or fatality?

  14. Min Yee says:

    The “Burglar! Banker — Father!” in this poem is God, three views of God

  15. Wallace says:

    Oh Mimi! you hit the nail on the head.. If anything all of Ms. Dickinson poems contains a great deal of ambivalence. It has to do a great deal with her constant state of what some would call confusion, but i’d rather call it an active mind. Both interpetations of the poem bears validity; however many have allure to Mimi’s interpetation because of Ms. Dickinson’s “trials” with God.

  16. Mimi Schaeffer says:

    I interpret this poem to mean that she has suffered; God restored her; and just when she is certain of God’s grace, she finds herself beset by more woes.

    Through many of her poems Dickinson seems to be having an open argument with God; and how he allows such cruelty in this world.

    She was ambivalent; but in the end chose to align her spirit with faith.

    Her poems are as poignant as any Bible verse of Job or Jacob.

    In our ways, we all want God’s blessing.

  17. David says:

    This poem, shows how we all feel at times. I know I’ve asked myself Why?. It’s a common reaction when something goes wrong.

  18. Jasihan Rasalingam says:

    Your poem is so beutiful that I can feel the emotion in the poem!

  19. Gloria says:

    A beautiful piece. Explaining about the people she cared and loved, but lost to death. When she refers to a beggar, she is talking/praying to her Holy Being (God). She is explaing about her prayers and about angels coming to take her loved ones to Heaven. This is a powerful poem. It releases her feelings and she can accept the final phase of the burgular,taking from her, the banker,storing her treasures (loved ones), and Father she claims that God does not really hear her (I am poor once more)…Somthing to think about.

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