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Vocabulary in I Died for Beauty

Vocabulary Examples in I Died for Beauty:

Text of the Poem

🔒 7

"kinsmen..."   (Text of the Poem)

A “kinsmen” is “a man of one’s own kin; a relative by blood.” Much like the term “brethren” the man again suggests the close relationship between “truth” and “beauty” by describing the two as close “kin.”

"We brethren are..."   (Text of the Poem)

The term “brethren” means “a male sibling or other male relative.” This word suggests that both the speaker and the person who died of “truth” are brothers or close relatives. However, the term “brethren” can also be used more generally to mean “a comrade.” While Keats’ poem suggests that truth and beauty are a single entity, this characterization of their relationship suggests that Dickinson separates the two ideas. It is unclear exactly why Dickinson does this other than another instance in which the readers are allowed to interpret the meaning as they will.

"failed..."   (Text of the Poem)

The verb “failed” here can be interpreted in a few different ways. On the one hand, “fail” can mean “to come to an end,” in this case, speaking to the literal end of one’s life. On the other hand, one can “fail” at something. Which in this case could suggest the “failure” of the speaker and the man to live up to the ideals of “beauty” and “truth,” or that to die for these ideals ultimately means that you have failed at helping them endure.

"room..."   (Text of the Poem)

Dickinson’s use of the word “room” to describe the “tomb” that this man is buried in, brings death into the realm of the ordinary. The word conveys normality, as if death or the grave is simply another “room” one will visit when their days have come to an end. The vision of death that this poem presents is not a tragic one, but an inevitable fact of life.

"Adjusted..."   (Text of the Poem)

The term “adjusted” in a literal sense means “arranged or positioned properly,” which might allude to the speaker’s physical position in the grave. The speaker has literally just been placed in their grave when someone else is “lain/ In an adjoining room.” In a figurative sense, the term “adjusted” means “grown accustomed to” or “adapted.” In this reading, the speaker could be saying something like: “I had barely grown accustomed to my burial, when someone was buried near me.”

"scarce..."   (Text of the Poem)

The adverb “scarce” means “barely, only just, or not quite.” The speaker may have “only just” been “adjusted” or “buried” in the tomb, or have barely “adjusted” to the reality of their death.

"I died for beauty..."   (Text of the Poem)

Notice that the speaker says that they “died for beauty” and not of beauty. If someone has “died for” something, they have “died in the name of” or “died in order to achieve” something. This suggests that “beauty” is not necessarily the cause of death, but rather that the speaker died for the cause of “beauty” itself.

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