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’s ton 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 death. She makes it clear that it is inescapable, though, when she says, “He kindly stopped for me.” The next lines, “The Carriage held but just Ourselves-/And Immortality,” signify that the miracle of life is our most precious possession and promises the gift of unending life. Immortality’s presence helps to remove fears as we exit the physical world and provides the recipient with the necessary assistance to assure that the transition from reality to spirituality is a pleasant experience. If the promise of immortality did not exist, one would never go along willingly, nor would one welcome death without fear.
Death and the speaker ride along with absolutely no concept of the passage of time. They are not hurried, as they have forever to reach their destination. This is stated in the line “We slowly drove-/He knew no haste.” Having completed all her earthly chores, the speaker states that they are no longer of any concern to her. Now there is no sewing, cooking, cleaning, farming, or caring for loved ones. The speaker has been allowed the luxury of rest and relaxation, as the next lines reveal: “And I had put away-/My labor had my leisure too.” Therefore, the persona and death share a reminiscent journey together as they stroll down memory lane, concerning themselves not with time, but compassion as death allows the speaker to mirror the passage of life with things familiar to her. 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.”
Upon death the concept of time becomes non-existent. Therefore, the speaker’s ability to relate how much time has passed since death and immortality carried her off becomes irrelevant. The speaker realizes there is no price to pay for death, and death is not to be feared, but rather embraced. This can be viewed in the sixth stanza, “Since then-’tis Centuries-and yet/Feels shorter than the Day/I first surmised the Horses Heads/were toward Eternity.”
In conclusion, the speaker’s faith and belief in immortality allow her to peacefully exit one phase of existence, while embracing the next phase. Death’s kindness and compassion pave t