I Never Lost As Much But Twice || Summary and Analysis

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I NEVER LOST AS MUCH BUT TWICE


I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod.
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angles-Twice descending
Reimbursed my store-
Burglar! banker - Father!
I am poor once more!

Summary and Analysis

Introduction:

      The manuscript of 'I Never Lost As Much But Twice' can be dated at about 1858, a number of years after the deaths of Leonard Humphrey and Benjamin Newton and yet it is possible that Dickinson is looking back at their deaths and comparing them to the present departure or faithlessness of a friend or a beloved person. The poem is a remarkable example of Dickinson's jocular blasphemy combined with a quite serious theme. It deals with the themes of death, religion and love.

I never lost as much but twice, And that was in the sod. Twice have I stood a beggar Before the door of God!
I Never Lost As Much But Twice

Summary:

      The poet has suffered losses not only in the past but also in the present. This fact refers to previous losses which were in the sod and surely refers to the death of his friends. The present loss is not due to any death but it is just as bad and perhaps harder to explain and accept.

      The descending angels must have brought new friends. The reference to these friends as 'store' shows that they are a treasure and prepares us for the outburst against God. The witty placing of 'Father' after these terms strengthens the accusation that God is ruling by unfair rules. The last line shows an abrupt and stubborn resentment against God's cheating.

Explanation with Reference to Context:

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod,
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God.

      The speaker defines his relationship with God in this poem. He criticizes God for being cruel to him in his life. The poet further compares and contrasts the types of losses which he has suffered in his life.

      The speaker had suffered not only in the past but is also suffering in the present. He suffered the loss of his friends in the past. The descending angels must have brought new friends in his life. The reference to these friends as 'stores' suggests that they are an invaluable asset and prepare the speaker for his outburst against God.

Angels-Twice descending
Reimbursed my stores-
Burglar! Banker - Father!
I am poor once more!

      It is the concluding stanza of the poem I Never Lost As Much But Twice, written by Emily Dickinson. The speaker has already discussed the great losses of his dear friends in the past. He has suffered beyond limits at the hands of God when he approached Him for His Mercy. All his pleadings for help failed to evoke the divine sympathy.

Critically Analysis:

      The poem 'I Never Lost As Much But Twice' presents an anti-Puritan attitude towards God. It is an open defiance of the Will and the Authority of God. God is ironically called as 'Burglar! Bank- Father' which is intended to humiliate Him in the eyes of His committed followers. God is called a burglar because He deprives us of our hard-earned money and property. He is also responsible for heavy losses suffered by us in our lives. Dickinson calls God as a banker because He is ready to help us from His inexhaustible treasures.

      As she came to doubt the character of God, however, Dickinson grew ever more protective of her loved ones and her intimate feelings. The more God stole from her, the more she tried to hoard. She came to think of God as a jealous God.

Explanation with Critical Comments:

      The speaker's outbursts against God reach their climax in the closing phase of the poem. He becomes all the more disrespectful towards God after being insulted at His door. He goes to the extent of calling Him a burglar, banker and father in a fit of anger. He once again feels badly hurt in his encounter with God. The descending angels must have brought new friends.They are like a store i.e. treasure which can further help him in intensifying his struggle against God.

      He mockingly calls Him a 'Burglar! Banker- Father. He calls God a burglar who deprives people of their fortune. God is a banker who compensates the unfortunate from His treasures. Finally, he addresses Him as a Father who looks after His creations in the universe, His ultimate realization is that he has become all the more poorer in his futile confrontation with God.

Annotations:

      Lost - suffered the most in life. It was the greatest shock of the life of the speaker. It even surpassed all the previous losses of his life.
In the sod - points to the previous losses of the deaths of his dear friends.
A beggar - the speaker calls himself as a poor and helpless person having no dignity. This sense of loss is unbearable for him. This surely exceeds the loss of his past friends.
Door of God - refers to paradise where God resides.
Descending angels - the heavenly beings landing on earth.
Reimbursed my stores - the arriving angels must have brought new friends as stores.
Reimbursed - compensated for his losses.
Stores - friends brought by the heavenly beings. They will be an asset in challenging the supremacy of God.
Burglar - thief. It shows the height of disrespect for God.
Banker - God is ironically dubbed as money-minded.

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