My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close by Emily Dickinson

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(Poetry for Students)

Line 1:
The poem begins with a powerful statement: The speaker’s life has already “closed” two times. Here, the use of the verb “closed” might be inter- preted in two ways. One meaning might be “finished or concluded,” but another could be “closed on all sides; shut in.” Either or both meanings seem appropriate, inasmuch as Dickinson ’s poetry is often concerned with both the theme of death and the theme of isolation. “Before its close” most likely means “before its conclusion,” or before that final closing act of every life—the concrete, physical death of the body.

Lines 2-4:
In these lines, the speaker expresses concern about what the future might hold. The poem’s speaker, having already suffered two life “closes,” is left to deal with whatever will happen next. “Immortality” is the only capitalized word in the poem which does not fall at the beginning of a line. One might have expected her to use the word “Mortality,” as that is the way that most people talk about the end of life, but the use of “Immortality” shows the spiritual depth of the poem’s speaker. “Immortality,” or endless life, is a sacred mystery that may or may not “unveil,” or reveal, a third and final “close” to the speaker. There is a certain tone of courage in these lines, perhaps the courage that enables people to go on living in spite of overwhelming losses.

Lines 5-6:
In these lines, the speaker wonders if the next “event,” if it ever occurs, could possibly be as “huge” and as “hopeless to conceive” as the two “events” or “closes,” that have already happened. Here, “huge” is probably used in the sense of one of its synonyms, “tremendous,” meaning capable of making one tremble....

(The entire section is 589 words.)