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I DIED FOR BEAUTY - BUT WAS SCARCE

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Tori Pflanzer

on 14 June 2014

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Transcript of I DIED FOR BEAUTY - BUT WAS SCARCE

I DIED FOR BEAUTY - BUT WAS SCARCE
I DIED FOR BEAUTY - BUT WAS SCARCE
I died for Beauty -- but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining room --
 
He questioned softly "Why I failed"?
"For Beauty", I replied --
"And I -- for Truth -- Themself are One --
We Brethren, are", He said --


THESIS
Emily Dickinson utilizes key literary devices in each of the three stanzas of the poem “I died for Beauty – but was scarce” to convey the universal theme that material accomplishments during life have insignificant influences on future societies.
EMILY DICKINSON
December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886
American Poet
Only about a dozen of her nearly 800 poems were published during her lifetime
Emily Dickinson’s sister, Lavinia found and published them after her death.

STANZA 1
I died for Beauty

--

but was scarce
Adjusted
in the
Tomb
When
One
who died for
Truth
, was lain
In an adjoining room --
WHAT IS THE OVERALL THEME OF THE POEM?
When sacrificing your life for things of solely material importance, you are likely to be forgotten by society after your death.
By: Tori Pflanzer
JUXTIPOSITION
“I died for Beauty”
Emily Dickinson juxtaposes ideas within this very line. The tone of the poem begins very dark as it is dealing with the idea of death. However, the concept of Beauty contrasts it with it’s generally light connotation. This is further exaggerated with the capitalization of Beauty.
This causes the reader to question why a person would die for a thing such as beauty and whether it was worth it.
SYNTAX
“I died for Beauty - - ”
The dashes after this line create a pause in the poem. This is put here almost as a way to illustrate the speaker pausing as if to question his or her own motives for doing such an astonishing thing as dying for beauty.
This is the first place in which it becomes clear that the own speaker is unsure of whether dying for beauty is really the wisest thing to do.
SYNTAX (LINE 1)
“I died for Beauty - - ”
The dashes after this line create a pause in the poem. This is put here almost as a way to illustrate the speaker pausing as if to question his or her own motives for doing such an astonishing thing as dying for beauty.
This is the first place in which it becomes clear that the own speaker is unsure of whether dying for beauty is really the wisest thing to do.

ENJAMBMENT
“– but was scarce/ Adjusted in the Tomb”
The thought process illustrated by the dashes is interrupted here by the arrival of a neighboring corpse. Enjambment emphasizes the word scarce. This suggests a deeper level to the word. The speaker is saying that they had only just come to terms with their own death.
Here we see that the speaker has yet to understand and agree with the reasons for which he or she died.

SYNTAX (LINE 2)
“Adjusted in the Tomb”
Dickinson immediately draws attention to the word “Tomb” by capitalizing it.

By doing this, she adds yet more of a shocking effect to her poetry. This also suggests that the word tomb is not meant to be taken in an exclusively literal interpretation. On a surface level, this line can be taken to mean that she physically adjusted to her tomb for the purposes of comfort. On the other hand, it is shown that the speaker means she barely had time to get used to the idea of her own death and come to terms with its causes. The visual imagery used here also allows for a further sense of foreboding due to the idea of the graveyard.
STANZA 2
He questioned softly "Why I failed"?
"For Beauty", I replied --
"And I -- for Truth -- Themself are One --
We Brethren, are", He said --
DICTION
“He questioned softly, ’Why I failed’?”
Dickinson’s choice to use the word “failed” instead of “died” reflects that main speaker did not only fail by dying but he or she also failed in life. The neighboring corpse views the outcome of their sacrifices as failures. For this reason, it seems as though their sacrifices are viewed as either insignificant or otherwise useless.
Once again, it becomes clear that the characters feel as though it wasn’t worth the sacrifices they made.
SYNTAX
“‘For Beauty’, I replied -- /’And I -- for Truth’”
Also, it is again made obvious that the two words “beauty” and “truth” are capitalized on purpose. By doing this, Dickinson emphasizes the fact that these two things were the most important to both the speaker and her neighbor during their lives.
Here, Dickinson points out that sacrifices for materialistic things are not remembered.

DIOLOGUE
“’Themself are One--/ We Bretheren, are’”
In many ways, both speakers are intertwined in their way of failure. For instance, when individuals seek beauty, they believe it is the truth. However, when they finally achieve this beauty, they realize they have actually lost sight of the truth altogether.
No matter the cause, when sacrificing for a materialistic reason, the outcome is never successful.
SIMILIE
“And so, as Kinsmen, met at Night--”
Capitalization of the word “Kinsmen” suggests that the speakers are now bond by the same fate and background. Both have died for an invalid reason and thus, both will undergo the same ordeal, death.
With this simile Dickenson asserts that it does not matter what an individual accomplishes in life, death will be an equalizer for all people.

STANZA 3
And so, as
Kinsmen
, met a Night
--
We talked between the Rooms
--
Until the
Moss
had reached our lips
--
And covered up
--
our names
--

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night --
We talked between the Rooms --
Until the Moss had reached our lips --
And covered up -- our names --






Juxtaposition
Enjambment
Syntax
Diction
Syntax
SIMILIE
SIMBOLISM
SYNTAX
SYMBOLISM
“Until the Moss had reached our lips -- / And covered up -- our names --”
The passage of time is shown through the moss that has covered the names on the tombs of the speakers. This moss symbolizes that life goes on after the death of a person.
Thus, Dickinson stresses the fact that the dead lose the ability to further influence the world with their words. After death, the souls of the deceased are silenced from the ears of society. Their ideas then die with them as they are not around to defend them.

SYNTAX
And covered up -- our names --
Through the use of this unusual punctuation, it becomes clear that the speaker has a hard time realizing that her influences are lost. The line is read with a pause right in the middle. This pause signifies the speaker’s hesitation in continuing with her speech.
This emphasizes the fact that, at this stage of the poem, the speaker has realized what happened to her sacrifice, and regrets it.
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