In this poem the spirits of beauty and truth communicates until they are forgotten. The dialogue initiated between the two representatives demonstrates their recognition of each other, but that they are also subject to the constraints of time, when their ‘lips’ are stopped by ‘moss’ Enjambment- first verse uses enjambment giving the lines a flow, gives a subtle effect Allegory- death and truth are personified Personification- truth and death are given charactristics, beauty Similie- ‘and so, as kinsmen met a night’
Metaphor- ‘we brethren are’ he said’ Imagery- description of moss covering lips and names Summary- The poem “I died for Beauty—but was scarce”, is about two dead people having a conversation about their previous lives. One of them died for truth, one of them died for beauty. They talk and at the end of the poem, moss comes and covers up the names on the tombs. “I died for Beauty—but was scarce”, by Emily Dickinson is a poem about death and man’s insignificance over the course of time.
Set in a tomb, the first stanza opens up the poem introducing two different characters, both of whom are dead. The first person introduced is the narrator who has died a recluse, and did not conform to society when she was alive. This is seen in the first line, the word “scarce” which means to be absent or elusive. Clearly the narrator was scarce in her life and when she died, all her non-conformity was ignored, and in line two, she was “Adjusted in the Tomb”. Adjusted can mean: to adapt or conform. Simply being buried in a tomb is an epitome of societal conformation.
This is just part of the death theme, and man’s insignificance because after a lifetime of recluse, it only takes her death for her to conform; or, perhaps, made to be conformed. The second half of the first stanza introduces and quickly describes a new character, immediately naming him “One who died for Truth”. The narrator introduces the new character with a more honorable tone, using less harsh and more eloquent vocabulary. The tone seems slightly softer as if the narrator feels that this person died for a good cause, unlike themselves.
Yet, the insignificance shows through when the two dead characters, seemingly unequal in the narrator’s view, are placed in adjoining rooms, separated, and yet still on the same level. Clearly the theme of death is still apparent in this second half of the stanza, and the insignificance of man is more apparent as well. In the second stanza, the two characters speak together and tell their story of how they died. The first line shows a bit of good tone to the One who died for Truth, as he softly asks the narrator a curious question. The question, “Why I failed? is very important because of the word choice. The fact that both of them did not succeed in their lives at the goals that they were trying to finish. Towards the end of the conversation, the One who died for Truth tells the narrator that both their causes are the same after death, and that they have that in common. This is an interesting point that the One who died for Truth makes, and it once again furthers the idea that after death, what was done on Earth was insignificant and that all causes one dies for in the end are the same.
The third stanza is really overall, the most clear and apparent to the theme of man’s insignificance. Starting from the top, the two characters have established that they are equals; brethren and kinsmen. The word choice in the first line is also very important in the final stanza. In the quote, “…met at Night” night is used as a metaphor and represents death, furthering the theme. The second line also houses a metaphor; the Rooms. Discussed in the beginning of the poem, the rooms are a metaphor for social classes and acceptance. The narrator is placed in one room, and the One who died for Truth is placed in another.
From the slight change in tone to the very character name, the new person seems to almost have died a hero. The new character is extremely socially acceptable, yet the narrator, who died an outcast, is not. The talking between rooms shows that after death, societal boundaries are no longer as eminent as in life. Finally, the third and fourth lines are probably the most vivid and easily-imagined pictures in the poem, and really set in stone the theme. The moss comes, and with its growth, the passing of large amounts of time is inferred.
On the final line, the insignificance of man really hits a high note, and clearly the narrator is saying that over time, memories of people lost are slowly overgrown and forgotten. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are a great person or just a recluse; in death everyone is equal and equally forgotten. Overall, this is a good poem. I thought that it really hit home some valid points, about death and how people can be forgotten after they are gone. Aside from that Dickinson may also be trying to say that she didn’t like how people are forgotten, and though she may like the equality of it all, she doesn’t want people to be forgotten.