Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

what are the literary elements of the poem?

My life closed twice before its close

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When I teach this poem I call attention the rhythm, rhyme scheme, punctuation, and figures of speech, and of course meaning. It consists of two quatrains, abcb and defe. Rhyming words attract each other, connecting their meanings, which here make “see” resonate with “me,” and “befell” resonate with “hell.” (“conceive,” provides a partial rhyme with “me.”) The first and third lines, which don’t rhyme, are iambic tetrameter, and the lines that do rhyme are in iambic trimester, linking them together even more closely in sound and meaning. The sound results in an easy rhythm that carries the easy language of the poem. The personification of “immortality” results from its doing an action—unveiling—which connotes surprise and disguise, but is also a distinctly female event, suggesting secrets hidden and enclosure. “Immortality” is the only word with more than two syllables, increasing its importance in meaning, and the many two-syllable words reinforce the event that occurred “twice” to the speaker already. The period that separates the last two lines, which could otherwise be connected with a comma, suggests the distinctness of each thought, and also tends to make the second thought and the last line a very final after-thought. The poem is about loss and sorrow.