BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH
Emily Dickenson (1830-1886)
Death is never something pleasant to think about but it is an inevitable part of life. Emily Dickenson demonstrated her complete acceptance of this in her classic poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”. She describes death not as something to be feared, but rather as a journey that must be taken. Lets look at her poem and think about it below:
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 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 grew 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 but a mound.
Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.
Questions to think about:
In the first stanza, Dickenson “He kindly stopped for me”- Can death be kind? What tone is being set here?
Why do you think Death drove slowly?
What do you think the symbolism of the setting sun passing the carriage in the fourth stanza?
A Tippet is a scarf and Tulle is netting. This being said, what is the symbolism of her garments, a gossamer gown with a scarf made of netting?
What was the house that they paused before? Is there a significance in her use of “paused”?
Can you describe the metaphor used for Death?
Can you find the internal rhyme scheme in the stanzas?
She used alliteration in several stanzas. Can you spot them?
What type of meter did she use?