Emily Dickinson – 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
We slowly drove, he knew no haste
And I had put away
My labour 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 my 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 shorts than the Day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.
The plot/idea of the poem is being told by someone who is already beyond the grave and their journey there, and beyond it. I have figured out that the driver of the carriage is death. And as said in the poem, in the carriage is either Emily herself, or maybe a loved one/family member and an another personified character being ‘Immortality’ i believe this means the Emily Dickinson is trying to say that death and immortality work hand in hand to get to the grave. Together Immortality and Death is a journey and on the journey, they pass the school of youth and the person in the carriage reflects back on their childhood and all their memories come flooding back in. They either now look back in life as an accomplishment or as being unfilled. Now they pass an old house, that could maybe the passenger of the carriage (the person who has just died) house that they lived in before they died. This also means even more happy and sad memories come flooding back, and once again they cast back on the life they have lived.
Some of the language techniques used in the poem I found was a lot of repetition. You can see the repetition of the start of each word on some of the line. They can be clearly seen in the 3 stanzas ‘We passed the School, where children strove, At recess in the ring
We passed the fields of gazing grain, We passed the setting sun’ In the first like we see the repetition of the W with We and Where, in the next line we see the repetition of the R in Recess and Ring. in the 4 line on the 3rd stanza we see the repetition of the G in Grazing and Grain and finally in the last line we see the repetition of the S in Setting and Sun. this repetition is also shown in a few more lines. The lines include 3rd line in stanza 2 with L being repeated ‘labour and my leisure’ also in the last 3 line of stanza 4 ‘The dews drew quivering and chill, For only my gossamer, my gown, My tippet only tulle’ with the relation of D,G and T. finally in the 3rd lie of the very last stanza (stanza 6) with this clause ‘I first surmised the horses’ heads’ with the letter H being repeated.Repetition is commonly used to emphasize an idea and/or a feeling and I think Emily Dickinson uses this to point out emotions and feelings throughout the poem.
With the repetition of more than 2 consonant or vowel, it can be said to become an alliteration. The use of an alliteration is to connect the 2 or more words together to either allow us the paint a picture or just an idea. This can be seen in the line ‘My labour and my leisure too,’ because labour like working and the leisure to like relax so Emily Dickensian using alliteration/repetition to talk about life. I think life is because you work hard in life to achieve some sort of leisure.
‘For only my gossamer, my gown’ this is a metaphor and can also be a hyperbole. This is because the meaning gossamer is a spider web like the substance of delicacy. Emily Dickinson is referring this back to the gown, the ‘silk’ gown of comfort.
I believe the one thing the poem teaches us about the world today is that you have all the time in the world but when it is your time to go it happens fast and sometimes without any warning. So be very cautious in your life because you don’t know how long left you have to lift it so live every day to the fullest. Don’t give up either on dreams and goal and especially don’t give up on life because you will never know if it will get better one day and you won’t be here for it.
I have not been in this situation but this reminded me of when my grandmother passed, as she was sick very sick leading up her death. She was probably sick for 6 months, with the last weeks in ICU in the hospital. She was surrounded by family and when she went it was fast and painless Now I look back on this as a good thing as she now isn’t in pain or suffering to the horrible disease.
I would recommend this poem and other poems by Emily Dickinson to older, mature teens and up. This is because once you get down the nitty and gritty meanings behind this story is a quite upsetting as it is someone’s challenging journey of their death and hopefully making peace at the end of it.