In "My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close," how does Dickinson describe the two events that befell her?

In "My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close," how does Dickinson describe the two events that befell her?


Asked on by laroush

2 Answers

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In the first line of the poem, Dickinson says, "My life closed twice before its close -"  These were 2 events that were so dramatic and overwhelming, that she is comparing them to death, to her life actually shutting down, and closing.  These events could have been the death of a loved one, or another extreme form of disappointment or trial. 

She goes on to say that these events were "So huge, so hopeless to conceive".  She is anxious of another event that would be so hugely difficult, and concludes that "Parting is all we know of heaven./And all we need of hell."  These events were so awful, the "partings" that she had to take (of a loved one, of hope, of her previous perceptions, whatever it might have been) that she calls them "hell".  She also calls them "heaven" because in death, that is the closest mankind comes to heaven.  As usual, Dickinson's words are few but packed with meaning.

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kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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Dickinson describes the two events which befell her in the first line of the poem when she states that her life "closed" before its close. By this, Dickinson means that these events were so powerful and so traumatic that it made her feel as though as her life had ended. This idea is further supported in the third line of the poem when Dickinson uses the word "immortality" to describe the cause of the events. By using this word, Dickinson suggests that they were so significant and life-changing that they had a supernatural or divine origin.

In addition, in the fifth and sixth lines, Dickens describes the events as "huge" and "hopeless to conceive." Once again, she hints at the life-changing aspect of what befell her. This may also explain why Dickinson does not tell us what actually happened to her: the events were so calamitous that she cannot bring herself to reveal the details.