Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Because I Could Not Stop for Death

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Because I Could Not Stop for Death is proclaimed to be Emily Dickinson’s most famous poem. This poem reveals Emily Dickinson’s calm acceptance of death. She portrays death being a gentleman that surprises her with a visit. Emily illustrates everyday scenes into a life cycle. While her metaphors explore death in an imitable way, her lines often contain as much uncertainty as meaning.
Life and death are but trails to eternity and are seen less important when viewed in the framework of eternity. Emily Dickinson’s poem Death is a gentleman taking a woman out for a drive.” Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me” (Dickinson 1-2). Emily describes being a busy woman who is caught up with everyday situations. When it comes to death, no one plans on a time or date to die; what Emily is identifying as a tragic event is translated to being a casual experience. Emily writes, “The carriage held but just ourselves, and immortality,” (3-4). Emily describes her ride with death, but affiliates a third rider Immortality. “Davidson does not emphasize what is gained after death; she emphasizes what is lost because of death,” (Privatsky 35). Emily’s third passenger has a wide variety of interpretations. Normally, one doesn’t think about death, yet Emily’s approach to death is similar of the approach to immortality. My viewpoint is Emily construes her belief in a soul that does not die but live on till eternity. “The idea of immortality is confronted with the fact of physical disintegration. We are not told what to think; we are told to look at the situation,” (Tate 26). According to Dickinson’s words, He slowly drove He knew no haste (5-6). Emily describes a relaxing slow pace towards an unknown destination. On the way she enjoys the peaceful scenes. “We passed the school, where children strove, At recess – In the Ring-“(Dickinson 9-10). Emily is reflecting in her past, this may also be seen as the beginning of a life cycle. Emily then goes on to say, We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain- (11). The phrase that she decides to use is judicious because she is not the observer, but instead she is the observed. At that point, she further goes on to describe “Setting Sun-“ as the last scene in her ride.” All three of these images suggest phases of the life cycle that the speaker has passed and is passing through and clue us in on her experience…Time has stopped for her, and the fields of grain do the gazing, not her,” (Semansky 34-35).

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Emily’s day closes and the day gets darker and brisk.”Like the grain, she too was “Gazing,” and like the sun, she was “Setting”...” (Privatsky 37). Emily states, We paused before a House that seemed A swelling of the Ground- (17-18). To this end, she sees a mound of dirt but does not seem to understand that it is a grave.
Thereafter the fifth stanza, the reader realizes that this woman is dead and it is her grave that death leads her to. The irony with her ride is that the last image that she sees comes to an end, as does her life. “Since then- ‘tis centuries- and yet, Feels shorter than the Day,” (Dickinson (21-22). The woman who had abruptly but all her duties away to ride with her stranger is looking in hindsight. Although much time has passed, she remembers everything clearly, as though it was yesterday. Emily states, I first surmised the Horse’s Heads, Were toward Eternity-“(Dickinson 23-24). The woman assumes that this is not her only stop. Just as her body is lifeless, so too is her soul still in the carriage on the road toward Eternity.

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