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What is the meaning of "doubly dying" in the poem "Patriotism" by Sir Walter Scott?

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ponu | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:42 PM via iOS

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What is the meaning of "doubly dying" in the poem "Patriotism" by Sir Walter Scott?

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:06 PM (Answer #1)

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Patriotism Innominatus

BREATHES there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
'This is my own, my native land!'
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.

By "doubly dying" Sir Walter Scott simply means that the man who has no love for his country will be ignored by his contemporaries and totally forgotten after his death; therefore he will die physically and die in people's memories, regardless of his social status and wealth (pelf). The poem has a Latin title as well as an English one. Innominatus means "nameless" or "without a name." Both the unpatriotic man's body and name will die when he dies. He will be "unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung."
 
It should be noted that "doubly dying" is only one of the alliterations Scott uses throughout the poem to give it a dynamic forward thrust and leading precipitously to the final dreadful concludiing line. I have copied the entire short poem above for ease of reference to the many alliterations, beginning with the very first line.
 
soul/so
home/he/hath
wealth/wish
power/pelf
concentered/self
forfeit/fair
doubly/dying
 
There is an intentional "doubling" throughout the poem, both in the alliterations and in the rhyming couplets, with the intention apparently being to lead up to the awful fate of "doubly dying."
 
A similar use of alliterations can be found in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan," beginning with two different alliterations in the first line, "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan."
 
Xanadu/did   Kubla/Khan
 
Edgar Allan Poe uses the same poetic device in "The Raven," which is full of alliterations such as:
 
While I pondered weak and weary
 
While I nodded, nearly napping

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