Because I Could Not Stop For Death

1058 words - 5 pages

Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death” is a remarkable masterpiece that exercises thought between the known and the unknown. Critics call Emily Dickinson’s poem a masterpiece with strange “haunting power.” In Dickinson’s poem, “Because I could not stop for Death,” there is much impression in the tone, in symbols, and in the use of imagery that exudes creativity. One might undoubtedly agree to an eerie, haunting, if not frightening, tone in Dickinson’s poem. Dickinson uses controlling adjectives—“slowly” and “passed”—to create a tone that seems rather placid. For example, “We ...view middle of the document...

In addition to these three stages, the final stage of eternity was symbolized in the last two lines of the poem, the “Horses Heads” (23), leading “towards Eternity” (24). Dickinson fathomed the incomprehensible progression of life by unraveling its complexity with figurative symbols. Emily Dickinson dresses the scene such that mental pictures of sight, feeling, and sound come to life. The imagery begins the moment Dickinson invites Her reader into the “Carriage.” Death “slowly” takes the readers on a sight seeing trip where they see the stages of life. The first site “We” passed was the “School, where Children strove” (9). Because it deals with an important symbol, —the “Ring”—this first scene is perhaps the most important. One author noted that “the children, at recess, do not play (as one would expect them to) but strive” (Monteiro 20). In addition, at recess, the children performed a venerable ritual, perhaps known to all, in a ring. This ritual is called “Ring-a-ring-a-roses,” and is recited: Ring-a-ring-a-roses, A pocket full of posies; Hush! hush! hush! hush! We’re all tumbled down. (qtd. in Greenaway 365) Monteiro made the discovery and concluded that “For indeed, imbedded in their ritualistic game is a reminder of the mortal stakes that the poet talks about elsewhere”(21). On this invited journey, one vividly sees the “Children” playing, laughing, and singing. This scene conveys deep emotions and moods through verbal pictures. The imagery in the final scene, “We passed the Setting Sun,” proved very emotional (12). One can clearly picture a warm setting sun, perhaps, over a grassy horizon. The idea of a setting sun, aftermath a fact of slumber in a cold dark night. When Dickinson passed the “Setting Sun,” night drew nigh and it was time to go home and sleep. Symbolically, Her tour of life was short; it was now time for “Eternity”—death. While sight seeing in the carriage, one can...

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