Emily Dickinson: The Sinister Beauty Of Death

Emily Dickinson: The Sinister Beauty Of Death

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Throughout the history of human kind, there have existed a significant number of poets, who did not care to write about 'happy things.'; Rather, they concerned themselves with unpleasant and sinister concepts, such as death. Fascination and personification of death has become a common theme in poetry, but very few poets mastered it as well as Emily Dickinson did. Although most of Dickinson's poems are morbid, a reader has no right to overlook the aesthetic beauty with which she embellishes her 'dark'; art. It is apparent that for Dickinson, death is more than an event, which occurs at least once in a lifetime of every being. For her, death is a person, who will take her away with Him, when the right time comes, and if she cannot stop for Him, He will kindly stop for her. Thus, Dickinson's poem 'Because I could not stop for Death'; not only makes this vague concept more concrete and creates a very vivid image of death, but also makes us realize that when He comes, there will not be much time to say goodbye to the things that were once near and dear to you, so we should not take them for granted but cherish them while we are still alive. Moreover, her tranquil tone underscores the uselessness of running away from fate. Therefore, when He comes, we should be ready to step into His carriage and not be afraid. He is only a part of our lives.
Even though different people meet Him at different times in their lives, Death is inevitable. It is a phenomenon that will occur, whether a person wants it or not. Emily Dickinson suggests that when it comes, we should not indulge in fighting Him, rather, we should come along slowly and smoothly, looking back at what we are leaving behind.
     We slowly drove – He knew no haste
     And I had put away
     My labor and my leisure too,
     For His Civility (Dickinson, 367)
This stanza clearly indicates Dickinson's admiration for 'His Civility.'; She bows down to the omnipotent He, who knows no haste. She can and will not defy him, for before Him, she is meek as a lamb. She is only a human being, a vulnerable being, whereas, He is eternal and ubiquitous. Hence, running away from Him is impossible and unreasonable. That is why she does not even try to do so. Unlike many other people, Dickinson accepts her mortality.

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Although the first line of the poem tells us that she could not stop for death, the rest of the poem illustrates that she does not wish to resist Him. Her time has come and she realizes that all she can do at this stage of her life is look at her past and see whether her life was worth living. Her future no longer exists and her memories are the only remnants of her entire being. Seemingly, death does not intimidate Dickinson. Perhaps, she is too brave to be afraid, or maybe, she is too old and too tired. However, most importantly, she remains calm. She does not engulf her mind and her body in hysteria, and treats Him with the utmost respect. It is her turn, and she is not afraid to take it. She is ready to depart; she just needs some time to say goodbye.
However, as we approach the last stanza, the tone of the poem changes from serene to uncertain.
     Since then &#8211; 'tis Centuries &#8211; and yet
     Feels shorter than the Day
     I first surmised the Horses' Heads
     Were toward Eternity &#8211; (Dickinson, 367)
She foregoes her past, but what is she to do now? Where is she going? She does not know; yet, she is still not frightened. The tone does change in the last four lines of the poem, but Dickinson's voice does not tremble. She may not know where she is headed; she only understands that there is no other alternative, and she will go wherever the 'Horses' Heads'; are directed, even if it is toward eternity.
Thus, from this very short poem by Emily Dickinson, we can derive that it is unsound to resist the nature. Nevertheless, Dickinson's ideas are not the only factor that makes this poem memorable and intense. Her vivid imagery and diction also greatly contribute to the overall effect that this poem produces upon its readers. In the fifth stanza, she mentions about passing the house, which seems a swelling of the ground. Apparently, she is describing her grave, but she never actually uses that word.
     The Roof was scarcely visible &#8211;
     The Cornice &#8211; in the Ground &#8211; (Dickinson, 367)
She chooses specific words, such as cornice, to amplify the readers' awareness that she is not daunted by the fact that she will be buried, while simultaneously adding style and gracefulness to her poem.
Finally, Dickinson's 'Because I could not stop for Death'; is worth remembering for numerous reasons. It portrays death as something very natural and almost friendly, which consequently helps us not to stress about it so much. If we are not so afraid of death, perhaps our suffering at the end will be bearable, or maybe even nonexistent. The poem also emphasizes the fact that destiny is unavoidable and trying to prolong it, as well as worrying about it, would only magnify our mental distress. Dickinson's placid tone makes the delivery of these ostensibly grave messages very elegant, and her careful choice of diction sharpens our perception of her poem and her state of mind. When Emily Dickinson meets her ultimate companion, she does not panic; she gives Him her hand. She peacefully departs into the next world, not knowing what awaits her there. Dickinson understands that she is not alone and she is certainly not afraid. Why should we be?


Works Consulted
Charters, Ann and Samuel. Literature and Its Writers (An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama). 1997
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