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?

 

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickinson describes the two events that befell her as things that "closed" her life. This makes it seem as though they were so altering and had such a dramatic effect on her, that they made her feel as though she, herself, were dying. In other words, they felt how she imagines death will feel. She wonders if actually dying will, indeed, feel like these earlier closings: "If Immortality [will] unveil" yet a third closing to her with her actual, literal death.  

These two events were "So huge, so hopeless to conceive," that she seems unable even to describe them now. Or maybe, it doesn't really matter what they were because such a feeling is universal and describing her two closings in detail would remove that sense of universality. Because she does use the word "parting" and refers to heaven and hell, it sounds as though the events that "closed" her life could have been the deaths of other individuals, people who must have meant a very great deal to her. She writes, 

Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

One might interpret this to mean that the only way for one to get to heaven is to part with loved ones; however, it is hell for the loved ones who are left behind when one departs.  

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.