Because Death Stopped for Me

737 Words2 Pages
Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” is about a young woman who is going about her everyday life when death invites her to a carriage ride. The young woman then decides to go with Death, because he stopped for her. She casts aside everything she was doing just to accompany Death on a ride. Although they travel slowly they pass many things including a schoolyard, field of grain, and a grave referred to as a house. By the end of the poem the speaker realizes that they are riding off into eternity. The poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” is an allegory that represents the speaker’s view on death and the afterlife.
The speaker in “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” did not spend time worrying about her eventual demise. She spent her time working, keeping herself busy so that she would have no time for Death, “People spend much of their lives keeping busy with work or amused with play so that they do not have to think about their own imminent death” (Napierkowski and Ruby 3). Since she did not pay attention to Death he decided that he had to take the reins in the situation, “Because I could not stop for Death. /He kindly stopped for me” (Dickinson 1-2). It is obvious that the speaker does not take Death seriously due to the nonchalant tone she uses. As well as not taking Death seriously it is also apparent that the speaker has no fear of him, “While most people would try to bar the door once they recognized his identity” (Napierkowski and Ruby 2). Dickinson writes,
We slowly drove, we knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility (5-8)
Out of a courtesy to Death the speaker decided to stop everything she was doing to go on the carriage ride with him. She wa...

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... 3). There is a sense of contentment in the speaker about her death and appropriation of immortality.
Through the progression of the poem the speaker goes from ignoring Death to realizing only through Death can immortality can be obtained. She does not see Death as the blessing that it is, she was all too happy to go about her life toiling away and never paying it any mind. Once she decided to go in a carriage ride with Death and Immortality she saw all the stages of life and through it all Death has the power to give one the ability to live forever.

Works Cited

Dickinson, Emily. “Because I Could I Not Stop for Death.” The Poetry Foundation. N.d. Web.
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” Poetry for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski and Mary Ruby. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 26-38. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
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