I died for beauty

I died for beauty
Poem 449 is known as "I died for beauty" or "I died for beauty, but it was scarce." A poem by Emily Dickinson. Because it’s Emily Dickinson Month, it’s time to analyze this poem.

Poem 449 is known as I died for beauty or I died for beauty, but it was scarce. A poem by Emily Dickinson. Because it’s Emily Dickinson Month, it’s time to analyze this poem.


Why is this poem so important? This poem shows the affection Dickinson had for the work of John Keats. He wrote the poem Ode on a Grecian Urn and in this poem, he told us about the relationship between beauty and truth:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Dickinson was tributary to Keats. This poem shows, that she was able to transform his thoughts and create a vision based on his words.

In this poem, Dickinson doesn’t tell the story herself. Yes, she did write these words but pretended to be a man (or a “he”). Beauty is dead in this poem. It is laid in a tomb, where it finds someone who also died. This person died because of Truth. The tomb consists of more than one room, as the other person, lies in the room next to Beauty.

The person who lays there, asks Beauty why he did not succeed. Why did he fail? This was because of Beauty. The other one, claims he died for Truth. Together, they are “Brethren” (brothers). Then there is that moment when the two of them meet. In the night and as long as time would allow them. Or to put it in the words of Dickinson: “Until the moss had reached our lips,

And covered up our names.” That last sentence is important: the grave is old. Everyone knows what happens to tombstones that are not maintained. The lips represent the voices, that are silenced by nothing other than death.

I died for beauty

I died for beauty


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, — the two are one ;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

Emily Dickinson

This article would not be complete, without the magnificent poem written by John Keats (1795 – 1821), Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

— John Keats

I died for beauty
Article Name
I died for beauty
Beauty and Truth, they belong together. Read the poem inspired by the work of John Keats.
Publisher Name
The Ministry of Poetic Affairs

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