Having a fascination with the idea of death and dying is often considered morbid. Death is a scary subject that most people avoid thinking about. Yet, death is a subject that Emily Dickinson was familiar with, and often wrote about in her poetry. Her fascination with death was evident in many of her poems, she often wrote of her own death. What happens when one dies? How do they feel? What goes through a person’s mind? These are all questions that go through someone’s mind when they allow themselves to think about dying. In two of Dickinson’s poems, “Because I could not stop for Death –” and “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died,” the speakers depict their experiences with death. Although both poems are about dying, they both differ in the tone and the setting. The details of each speaker’s encounter with death vary; one tells of a deathbed scene and the other of a calm and peaceful ride to a final resting place.
In Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death,” the speaker tells of life being too busy to stop living. When the speaker states, “He kindly stopped for me,” the speaker means that death has taken the time to stop and escort the speaker to her grave (line 2). The speaker comes to the realization that death is nice enough to take the time to come for her as she recalls in the following lines,
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For his civility- (6-8).
Finally, choosing to stop and take the ride that death has offered. In the second stanza, the line “We slowly drove – He knew no haste,” portrays death as patient, allowing the speaker time to come to terms with dying (5). The speaker is on the journey to the final resting spot, as the following lines suggest “We passed before a House / th...
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...ed surrounded by grieving loved ones. This poem is also different, as the speaker is illustrating the feelings and the surroundings as the speaker is dying, describing what is going on as it happens. It is not a memory like the first poem. Although, both poems are similar in subject matter, they tell stories so divergent.
“Because I could not stop for Death” had a stronger impact on me. Relating to this poem is easy for me, I too would not be able to stop. Death would have to chase me, like a game of tag or hide and seek. This poem was more powerful, unlike “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –,” dying is not something that I can make peace with at this time in my life. I could not go easily and patiently, as the flies buzzed above me. As we see from both poems, death comes when he is ready, whether we want him to or not. Death cannot be rushed or evaded.