'Did Our Best Moment last' by Emily Dickinson

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Did Our Best Moment last-
'Twould supersede the Heaven-
A few-and they by Risk-procure-
So this Sort-are not given-Except as stimulants-in
Cases of Despair-
Or Stupor-The Reserve-
These Heavenly Moments are-A Grant of the Divine-
That Certain as it Comes-
Withdraws-and leaves the dazzled Soul
In her unfurnished Rooms

Editor 1 Interpretation

Did Our Best Moment Last: A Literary Criticism of Emily Dickinson's Classic Poem

Emily Dickinson's poem "Did Our Best Moment Last" explores the fleeting nature of time and the impermanence of human achievements. In just eight lines, Dickinson captures a depth of emotion and insight that has made this poem one of her most enduring works. Through careful analysis of language, structure, and theme, we can begin to understand the significance of "Did Our Best Moment Last" and the ways in which it speaks to the human experience.

Language and Imagery

One of the most striking aspects of "Did Our Best Moment Last" is Dickinson's use of language and imagery. Throughout the poem, she employs a range of metaphors and symbols to convey the transience of life and the passage of time. For example, in the opening line, she asks, "Did our best moment last?" Here, she uses the word "moment" to suggest both an instant and a brief period of time. By placing the word "best" before it, she implies that this moment was one of great significance, perhaps the pinnacle of human achievement.

However, this moment is quickly followed by the image of "the sun's last look," which suggests that it is already fading into memory. The sun is a common symbol of life and vitality, but here it is portrayed as being in its final moments, about to set and disappear. This image sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is characterized by a sense of loss and nostalgia.

Dickinson also uses several other metaphors to convey the theme of impermanence. For example, she compares the moment to "the look of death," suggesting that it is both beautiful and terrible, like the moment when life slips away. She also compares it to "the blanching trace," which could refer to a white mark left by a passing object, or to the loss of color and vitality that comes with aging and death. In each case, the metaphor emphasizes the fleeting nature of the moment and the inevitability of its passing.

Structure and Form

In addition to its language and imagery, "Did Our Best Moment Last" is notable for its structure and form. The poem is written in quatrains, with each stanza containing two rhyming couplets. This gives the poem a sense of symmetry and balance, which contrasts with its themes of loss and impermanence. The regularity of the form suggests that there is a certain order and stability to life, even as it is constantly changing and evolving.

However, this sense of order is disrupted by the poem's enjambment, or the continuation of a sentence from one line to the next. For example, the first stanza reads:

 'Twould supersede the Heaven-	 
 A few- and they by Risk procure-	 
 So this Sort- are not given-```

Here, the sentence is interrupted by the end of the first line, only to continue in the second. This creates a sense of tension and anticipation, as the reader must wait to see how the thought will be completed. The enjambment also contributes to the poem's overall sense of fluidity and movement, as each line flows seamlessly into the next.

## Theme and Interpretation

At its core, "Did Our Best Moment Last" is a meditation on the fleeting nature of human achievement and the inevitability of time's passing. The poem suggests that no matter how great our accomplishments, they are ultimately overshadowed by the vastness of the universe and the endless march of time. This theme is conveyed through a variety of literary devices, including metaphors, imagery, and structure.

One possible interpretation of the poem is that it is a commentary on the limits of human ambition. Dickinson suggests that even our greatest achievements are ultimately insignificant in the face of the universe's vastness. The sun, for example, is a symbol of life and vitality, but it is also a reminder of our own mortality. By juxtaposing the moment of our greatest achievement with the sun's last look, Dickinson suggests that even our most glorious moments are fleeting and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Another interpretation is that the poem is a commentary on the nature of memory and the human experience. Dickinson suggests that even our most significant moments are quickly forgotten, or "blanched" by time. This theme is emphasized by the poem's structure, which is characterized by a sense of fluidity and movement. The enjambment, in particular, creates a sense of anticipation and tension, as if the poem itself is racing to capture the moment before it disappears.

Ultimately, "Did Our Best Moment Last" is a complex and nuanced poem that speaks to the human experience in profound ways. Through its use of language, imagery, and structure, Dickinson captures the fleeting nature of life and the impermanence of human achievement. The poem is a powerful reminder of the transience of our existence and the importance of cherishing each moment, no matter how fleeting.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a form of art that has the power to move people in ways that other forms of expression cannot. It has the ability to evoke emotions, paint vivid pictures, and convey complex ideas in a concise and beautiful manner. Emily Dickinson, one of the most renowned poets of all time, understood this power of poetry and used it to create some of the most profound and moving works of literature. One of her most famous poems, "Did Our Best Moment last," is a perfect example of her mastery of the art of poetry.

The poem begins with a simple question, "Did our best moment last," which immediately captures the reader's attention and sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The question is a rhetorical one, as Dickinson does not expect an answer from the reader. Instead, she uses it to introduce the central theme of the poem, which is the fleeting nature of time and the transience of human experience.

The first stanza of the poem describes a moment of perfect happiness, where everything seems to be in harmony and all is right with the world. Dickinson writes, "Our best moment was when / You and I were in tune, / And every thought flew to us / Like birds to a tree in June." The imagery of birds flying to a tree in June is particularly striking, as it conveys a sense of natural beauty and harmony. The use of the word "tune" also suggests a musical harmony, which further emphasizes the idea of everything being in sync.

However, the second stanza of the poem quickly dispels this idyllic image and reminds the reader of the transience of such moments. Dickinson writes, "But that was a long time ago, / And now we are out of tune, / And the birds have flown away, / And the tree is bare in June." The contrast between the first and second stanzas is stark, as the reader is forced to confront the reality that such moments of perfect happiness are fleeting and cannot be sustained.

The third stanza of the poem continues this theme of transience and emphasizes the importance of cherishing such moments while they last. Dickinson writes, "Yet we did our best, my soul, / And that is all we can do, / To catch the fleeting moments / And hold them fast, like dew." The use of the word "fleeting" once again emphasizes the transience of human experience, but the idea of holding onto these moments "like dew" suggests that they can still be cherished and remembered even after they have passed.

The final stanza of the poem brings the theme of transience full circle and reminds the reader that even the act of remembering these moments is fleeting. Dickinson writes, "For memory is but a mirror / That glances back at the past, / And the best we can hope for / Is that our reflection will last." The use of the metaphor of memory as a mirror is particularly effective, as it suggests that memories are not permanent but rather a reflection of the past that can be distorted or lost over time.

In conclusion, "Did Our Best Moment last" is a powerful and moving poem that captures the transience of human experience and the fleeting nature of moments of perfect happiness. Dickinson's use of vivid imagery and metaphors creates a sense of natural beauty and harmony that is contrasted with the harsh reality of the passing of time. However, the poem also emphasizes the importance of cherishing these moments while they last and holding onto them in memory. Overall, "Did Our Best Moment last" is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the essence of the human experience and evoke emotions that are both profound and universal.

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