War, Death, Religion: A DR’s Truth on E.D. #2
The first example of Emily Dickinson’s pursuit of an escaping truth is expressed in her death-themed verses. In the second stanza of “I Died for Beauty” a conversation in the bounds of a tomb occurs between truth and beauty, truth initiates the dialogue as: “He questioned softly why I failed? / “For beauty,” I replied. / “And I for truth – the two are one” (5-7).
The next misinterpreted “professional” analysis shall be provided by author Daneen Wardrop as she enthusiastically describes “I Died for Beauty” as a:
“gothicized Romeo and Juliet [and that the] allegorical ciphers” (191) goes nowhere substantive. Additionally, the poem’s focus “may indicate sexual consummation…not on earth but in the grave [which asks] in the traditional view [which asks] is there love after death?” (Wardrop 191).
While bold, Wardrop’s assessment takes lyrical liberties to establish the desired agenda. So, if the poem is not about the failure of goths to find everlasting love albeit in life, or in death, then what does the poem “I Died for Beauty” truly reveal?
A truth-first inquiry must also consider the poem’s conclusion along with the text.
For instance, both beauty and truth died “for” the duo’s “failed” conquests. The duo acknowledges that the “two are one” and are “brethren.” This mutual admiration leads to the pair meeting for nightly conversation. However, both truth and beauty seemingly fail to realize an ever-present and beautiful truth—the moss. This miscalculation represents the real failure of the characters (truth and beauty).
The pre-conceived ideas of both beauty and truth led them to overlook the world around them until it was too late. The outcome results with the end of their words, as they and their names will be covered. Then, they shall be forgotten—a new death of sorts from the growing moss. The moss could undoubtedly represent an obvious truth ignored, and obscure beauty overlooked. One could deduct the new death also serves to provide the answer to how both truth and beauty “failed” not only in death but also in their previous lives. For those that fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it…are they not?
Boom! Case closed. Point made.
What? Not easily convinced, eh?
Fair enough, but the next example will not be a simple restatement. No—it shall be a transitional interval linking the truth of death to religion.
Wardrop, Daneen. Emily Dickinson’s Gothic: Goblin with a Gauge. University of Iowa Press, 1996. p. 191. EBSCOhost, https://www.nclive.org.