Emily Dickinson thoroughly explores every aspect of death in her poetry. She considers the physical, the psychological and the emotional aspects of this unknowable experience. She looks at death from the perspective of both the living and the dying, even imagining her own death. In ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’ it is as though she is observing her death, and in ‘I heard a Fly buzz – when I died -‘ she captures the very moment of death and reflects upon what it may be like in a very calming manner. Death is the one completely unknowable experience, which many people spend their life pondering about until the day they reach it, and Dickinson devotes much of her poetry to imagining its many faces.
In ‘Because I could not stop for Death’, Dickinson enacts the journey of death. Death is personified, and the words used to describe him are ‘kindly’ and ‘For his Civility’ therefore presenting him as a polite and courteous gentleman who stops to take her for a ride in his carriage. The chaperone here is Immortality, and the suggestion from the image of having both Death and Immortality in the carriage with her is that she is about to undertake a long but unthreatening journey, and moving to ‘Eternity’.
In the second stanza, the fact that she had to put away ‘My labor and my leisure too’ suggest that death is not a hurried, unexpected and dramatic experience as we may think. Instead this image, along with many others in the poem, offers the view that death is merely the beginning of another existence, and is not something to fear.
Death has been a fascination for humanity since the beginning of time. Death is in fact life's greatest mysteries, as it has been common belief that no one can return after death to re-tell what has happened to them. However, this general idea about death is starting to change in the Western world with the phenomenon of the near death experience. The near death experience has enabled human beings ...
The third stanza takes us away from the immediate environment in which she lives and is familiar with. The description of the view could be taken literally as merely an observation of life as it is passing her by. This could also stress the idea that life, and nature, continues regardless of death of which we see in several of Dickinson’s other poems such as the first version of ‘Safe in their Alabaster Chambers -‘. However, I think that since this is an encounter with death, these lines take on an additional metaphorical meaning. First she sees a schoolyard, with children playing; then there are fields of grain, and lastly the setting sun. It seems that they represent the progression of life from youth, the children, to maturity, the ripe grain, to old age, sunset. The sunset is like the border between life and death.
The anaphoric repetition of ‘We passed’ in lines three and four of this stanza emphasises that some boundary is being crossed. Also because we know that her company is Death and Immortality, we get a sense that the speaker is moving towards a place where progression of life and particularly time are not relevant – Eternity. The use of the word ‘Gazing’ to describe the grain could suggest that they are watching her intently as she passes knowing that a similar fate awaits them, which is another of Dickinson’s strange images as grain in the literal sense cannot gaze.
At the beginning of the next stanza, the rhythm changes. The first line of every other stanza is written in iambic tetrameter which has the effect of giving the poem a pleasant soothing, peaceful and regular rhythm. However, the first line of stanza four changes to a trimeter rhythmic style providing disruption to the poem. This could represent that another kind of change is taking place; that the speaker is moving away from life, as she knows it, into another plane of existence. The decision to change the act of passing the setting sun to ‘Or rather – He passed us -‘ suggests that the world has left her i.e. the act is no longer in her control. However, the tone does not suggest that she is unhappy with this; she accepts that her life has changed and moved on, and she is left to continue in the hands of Immortality into another existence.
A Comparison Between Shakespeare? s Sonnet 73 AndA Comparison Between Shakespeare? s Sonnet 73 And William Shakespeare, who lived during the second half of the 16 th century and the early 17 th century, wrote sonnets 73 and 12, both fourteen-line poems written to an anonymous lover. Similarly, the sonnets discuss the themes of time, love, and finally death. Both sonnets use A BAB rhyme, meaning ...
The line ‘The Dews drew quivering and chill’ gives a sense of damp and cold and is the only suggestion of discomfort in the entire poem. The speaker goes into a lot of detail about the delicacy of her fabrics: ‘For only Gossamer, my Gown – / My Tippet – only Tulle -‘. The ‘tulle’ is emphasised through being separated by the dashes, so these lines could suggest that she, herself, is cold which could tie in with the notion of death where corpses become stone cold. However, the ambiguous nature of the lines means that it can be read as the dew being chilled. This idea has the effect of isolating the speaker from the effects of cold and, at the same time, intensifying the chilling quality of the dew. This is an example of Dickinson’s unique and odd style, as dew cannot possibly feel the cold nor quiver.
In the next stanza, the regular rhythm returns, but the tranquil and casual tone is gone. The new house to which death brings her is a fresh grave, but the description of the grave: ‘A Swelling of the Ground’ is not a threatening image. Likewise, the use of the word ‘House’ instead of grave gives us a comfortable image of death. However, we get the sense that they are high above the world as Dickinson says that the cornice, which is an ornamental moulding found on a ceiling, appears to be on the ground. The first line shows that they only pause here because their ultimate destination lies further on.
During stanzas one to five, the reader is encouraged to think that Dickinson is talking about a journey as it happens, but in the final stanza, we learn that it is in fact in reverse; it is a poem written in the continuum of the journey, which has lasted centuries, through eternity, in the company of Immortality. The first line ‘Since then – ’tis Centuries’ suggests that she is now reflecting back to the day she died and first realised she was moving toward ‘Eternity’, which provides a reassurance that the concept of death is completely different to how many perceive it. It backs up the concept that life, or existence, merely continues when you die. The poem concludes with a dash after ‘Eternity’ implying that there is no definite closure, which is what is indicated by the word eternity.
Holy Donne John Donne was an English poet and probably the greatest metaphysical poets of all time. He was born in 1572 to a Roman Catholic family in London. His father died when John was young leaving his mother Elisabeth to raise him and his siblings. Throughout Donne's life his experiences with religion were full of trials and tribulations, something that can be clearly seen in his poetry over ...
In this poem, Dickinson implies a more spiritual side of death rather than religious. Although she indicates that some form of life continues into eternity after death, there is no sense of the Christian afterlife of heaven or hell that would have been heavily believed upon in Dickinson’s time. Even though Dickinson portrays a positive idea that death is not the absolute end, I think that there is still some sadness in the fact there is a sense of loss of the vibrancy of life suggested in the third stanza.