Emily Dickinson's Because I Could Not Stop for Death

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Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"

In Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death “ (448), the speaker of the poem is a woman who relates about a situation after her death. The speaker personifies death as a polite and considerate gentleman who takes her in a carriage for a romantic journey; however, at the end of this poem, she finishes her expedition realizing that she has died many years ago.

The poem contains six quatrains, and does not follow any consistent rhyme scheme. Every line starts with a strong beat and ends up with a weak beat. The first and third lines in each stanza have iambic tetrameter, but the second and fourth lines do not contain any consistent meter. The feet generate a rhythm the following way.

Bevcause/ Iv | could/ notV | stop/ | forv Death/

Hev kind/lyv | stopped/ | forv me/

This rhythm mimics the sound of horses’ hooves on the ground. Emily Dickinson correlates the speaker’s expression of her journey “toward Eternity-“(l. 24) with horses’ hoofed feet in her allegory (Class note).

In the first stanza, she begins her journey with a refined gentleman named Death who takes her in the carriage. Even though in the first line “Because I could not stop for Death” (l. 1), the poet gives us a hint of the speaker's disappearance in the world, the speaker thinks that she is still alive. The poet chooses a special term “Immortality” (l. 4) to show that at the beginning of her journey the speaker is young and ...
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