Because I Could not Stop for Death- Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a brilliant recluse of a writer who wrote masterpieces. One of her most famous poems is ‘Because I could not stop for death’.

Introduction to Dickinson

Dickinson was a transcendentalist who believed that poetry was a double-edged sword; liberating the poet but leaving him ungrounded.

Because I Could not Stop for Death

She wrote with an ease of observance of things present but not realized. Here we will look at her most famous poem, ‘Because I could not stop for death’.

Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Analysis of the Poem 

Dickinson’s poems have death as a recurring theme. In this poem, particularly, he is not ferocious but is rather a courteous and gentle soul, if I might be so cheeky. The speaker feels no fear for him as he waited gently for her because she was too busy to stop.

Death is personified by Dickinson in this poem as a traveler and a guide, taking the writer to her new home through the homes and years that she has lived.

Because I could not stop for death
An excerpt from ‘Because I could not stop for death’.

Because of the kindness that he showed by waiting for her, ‘His Civility’, she put aside her life for him, ‘her labor’ and ‘leisure’. These two words are the alliterative components symbolizing her life.

Additional information:
https://www.gradesaver.com/emily-dickinsons-collected-poems/study-guide/summary-because-i-could-not-stop-for-death-

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