My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close

“My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close” was first published in 1896 as part of Emily Dickinson’s third posthumous collection. The poem explores the topics of grief and loss with a questioning spirit. The speaker enters the poem from a position of experience, having suffered two figurative deaths. These deaths are episodes of loss internalized, brushes with mortality which have awakened the speaker to her own inevitable end. The speaker wonders whether, in her remaining time, another great loss will come to her. The poem closes with a rumination on the great mystery of death. As the speaker suggests, the loss of loved ones brings us close to that which lies beyond death, be it heaven, hell, or nothing at all. The speaker honors our inability to know. As the penultimate line puts it, “Parting is all we know of heaven.” Intimate and searching, “My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close” is a haunting testament to the role grief plays in our lives.

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