Explication of Emily Dickinson's Poem: Because I Could Not Stop for Death

687 Words Apr 14th, 2005 3 Pages
Explication of "Because I could not stop for Death"

The poem "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson expresses the speaker's reflection on death. The poem focuses on the concept of life after death. This poem's setting mirrors the circumstances by which death approaches, and death appears kind and compassionate. It is through the promise of immortality that fear is removed, and death not only becomes acceptable, but welcomed as well. As human beings, we feel that death never comes at a convenient or opportune time. When Dickinson says, "Because I could not stop for Death," she causes the reader to ask why she could not stop. The obvious answer is that she was so wrapped up in her own life that she did not think about
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The journey enables her to see the stages of her life beginning with her childhood, then maturity, and, finally, old age. This is verified in the third quatrain by the third stanza, "We passed the School, where Children strove/At Recess-in the Ring-/We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-/We passed the Setting Sun." When the sun sets and darkness surrounds the Earth, a cold eerie chill almost always accompanies it. This makes the speaker wonder if, in fact, the sun had actually passed her. She begins to notice how inappropriately she is dressed for such an occasion. The speaker now begins to realize that the coldness and chill are not external, but internal. It becomes clear to the speaker that the coldness and the chill are associated with death in the fourth stanza, "Or rather-He passed Us-/The Dews drew quivering and chill-/For only Gossamer, my Gown-/My Tippet-only Tulle." The speaker's metaphysical journey comes to an end at the cemetery, but somehow, the cold, dark, and eerie chill of the night seems unimportant. In total contentment, she views her resting-place. Although her gravestone is barely visible, she somehow recognizes it as her underground home. This is acknowledged in the fifth stanza, "We passed before a House that seemed/A Swelling of the Ground-/The Roof was scarcely visible/The Cornice-in the Ground." The speaker realizes there is no price to pay for death, and death is not to be feared, but rather
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