Poetry

Emily Dickinson – 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.”

– Emily Dickinson


In the final lines of his poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn, John Keats wrote ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ The equity of truth and beauty is something Emily Dickinson also took up in this allegorical poem in which she imagines a couple of kindred spirits lying in a tomb and reflecting, as the moss grows up to their lips and erases all trace of them on earth, on having given up their lives for their deepest values – beauty and truth.


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,—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 (1830-1886)
From – Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them

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