My life closed twice before its close —

My life closed twice before its close —
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem My life closed twice before its close —


  1. ass says:

    when she says that it is “So huge and hopeless to concieve” she is not saying that it is bad, but that it is too complicated to know its actual meaning.

  2. Dylan Price says:

    when she says that the afterlife is “so hopeless to conceive,” she brings forth the opinion that life may be just as bad as after-life. We can prove this by her relationship between Heaven and Hell, her uncertainty in death and her use of the word “hopeless,” in line five.
    In the final two lines of the poem, Emily Dickinson relates heaven and hell together as one in the same. She uses the word Parting in the sense of leaving loved ones behind and so she is saying that leaving loved ones behind is the only thing that Heaven guarantees us and that Hell is being somewhere without loved ones. So, Dickinson went against her Protestant upbringing and tried to make the point that there are is no guaranteed goodness after death and that Heaven and Hell may be the same thing. Her usage of unnerving words shows her uncertain thought process.
    In line five, Dickinson says, “so hopeless to conceive,” which brings to light her view on Heaven. In an attempt to show the world that heaven is not a certainty. She goes against her Protestant upbringing with a controversial view on the basis of Christianity. She uses the word Hopeless with the intention of implying without faith. She has no faith that death will be as good as life; she is even skeptical about it.
    In the poem, Dickinson says “her life closed twice before its close,” and that a third event is “huge and hopeless to conceive.” Since the narrator is writing this poem from the grave and she says that there were only two closings, deaths, in her life before her actual death, one can infer that her third closing is her death. She says that her death is “so huge, so hopeless to conceive,” and therefore is uncertain that an afterlife even exists. The interesting contradiction in the poem is that the narrator is writing from the grave and says she is uncertain about the existence of an afterlife. This paradox shows Emily Dickinson’s unorthodox writing style.
    Having always pushed the limits of poetry and setting new poetic boundaries, Dickinson reveals her skeptical views on afterlife in this poem. This poem was a way for Emily Dickinson to rebel against common religion and reveal her true views about Christianity.

  3. Andrew says:

    The second sense of these few lines could have more to do with one’s individual spiritual life. Sadly, this second sense is much more negative and depressing than the last one. The words, “My life” could very well be symbol for the spiritual state of the soul having closed off the light of Christ which dwells within man. Thus, mortal sin is a symbol for this closing. This closing could also be a spiritual blindness, the sinner is unable to see how grievously he has sinned, either because he has willingly closed off his conscience, which tells him what is right and wrong, or because through habit, the eye of his conscience has become dimmed, so he can no longer judge with an open and clean conscience, but with a conscience shut off to the light of Christ. Moving on, the two words “closed twice” could mean the eternal death that we all fear (the pains of hell, the eternal loss of God, closed off from him forever.) Because the sinner refused the Divine Grace which was offered him to convert, he died in his closed state of soul, and thus lost the hope of eternal salvation. And yet, though his body died, his soul lived on. That is the meaning of the last lines, “and yet it remained to see immortality unveil a third event to me.” The life of the soul remains, living on, and will remain to see the final resurrection when his body will come to share in the soul’s suffering and loss of God.

  4. Andrew says:

    One could look at this little stanza two different ways or senses.. A way of doing this could be done by looking at the first line, “My life closed twice before its close.” Someone’s life closed twice, ended twice. However, this is not a bodily death, or closing, but a spiritual one. This first line is an image for Adam’s fall into sin, his fall was the first close. Though we are not literally Adam, we are his sons because Adam was the first man and the Father of all men, thus we merit the effects of his sin, as well as the punishment due to his fall. So “My” could be understood in the sense that the speaker is acknowledging that he is guilty and not merely putting all the blame on Adam. But what of the second close? The first line reads, “My life closed twice…”, not once! The second “close” is man’s personal sin. Personal sin is taken as the sins of Adam’s descendants, me, you, his sons, his daughters, etc. Though we are all guilty due to Adam’s sin, we are also guilty every time each one of us sins individually, by our own free choice. So in other words, to join the two ideas together, man sins twice. Once, Adam sins in the garden, punishing us all in the process, and ruining not only his chances of salvation, but our hopes as well, and even though we did not sin in the garden, we sin now, individually, and offend God. Every time man sins, especially grievously (and the closing theme seems to imply nothing other than a serious sin, eg, mortal), his soul is robbed of Divine Grace, and the doors of heaven are “closed” to him. Eternal life is shut out to him, and it is only by repentance that he can hope to have it reopened to him.

  5. Audrey says:

    in my opinion, this poem is quite complex. i had to read it time and time again, but i eventually came to an understanding. she tries to fit so much information and feeling into one line, that it is difficult to understand what she is trying to get through. but when she wrote these poems she had no intention of showing them to anyone so i would probably do the exact same thing that she had. see she was a very closed off person and when she died, they found over 2000 poems in her dresser drawers and scattered all around her bedroom. she was a very bright person, being educated from a wealthy society. i just wish she knew how famous she had become before she had passed away, considering she is a very well known american poet. pretty ironic, huh?

  6. Elaine George says:

    My understanding of this poem is as follows.

    I died twice within this life
    when 2 I loved … found immortality
    Now I am left to live in dread
    Perchance the thought of three

    These thoughts consume me endlessly
    Of those that twice before me fell
    Only the living suffer death
    And know the fire of hell.


  7. nicole says:

    In this poem Emily Dickson describe the pain she experience when she loses a love one. She shows how the lost of a love one cuts deep. Dickson wants us to realize that when love ones leave they are going to a better place. It’s ok for us to be sad and cry, but soon are tears need to turn into tears of joy. I understand that losing people is hard and you never want to see them leave but it’s for the better. They are in a better place, a place were we want to go. “Parting is all we know of hell.” The word “Immortality” tells us that if we go to heaven then we will never die. We will live a never ending life.

  8. Victor says:

    In the poem “My life closed twice before its closed” Dickenson describes the feeling of a loved one that she has lost. Dickenson tries to convey her message of death comes before you know it. I think that this poem made me think of how short our lives could be, and how losing a loved one makes you go into sadness, so that kills you twice so then you are just waiting for your own death to complete the third event. The line “My life closed twice before its close” is the line that made me realize how short is life. “If immortality unveil A third event to me” this explains that after her second death which was her soul she’s just waiting for her own death to complete the third event. The words immortality and unveil are really important, that explains that she is not immortal and someday she’s going to die.

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