Because I Could Not Stop For Death: Dickinson’s Views On Death

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The realization behind knowing one must die has a great importance. It shouldn’t be a depressing or negative thing. Emily Dickinson often wrote poetry about death including her own. The poetry that Emily Dickinson leaves behind widens the eyes of the reader. These poems allow a better understand that death is inevitable and should not be feared. One must die for life to have meaning. Although her poetry can be seen as morbid by some, during the 19th century her mindset was not seen as unusual. Most religious attention was focused on the preparation for death. During Dickinson’s time, people died of illness and accidents at a quick and alarming rate. Dickinson’s views on death was something one should never fear. She shows a respect for death in her poem, “Because I could not Stop for Death.” Dickinson personifies death while she narrates from beyond the grave.

Emily Dickinson’s, “Because I could not Stop for Death” focused mostly on the subject of death after living. Dickinson takes the reader through this special transformation from one world to the next. She takes the reader on a journey through a world beyond time. This is dealt with in an odd, imaginative way. She talks on the personal encounter with the character death. Death is a male who drives the carriage. She befriends the character death. The carriage ride is symbolic for Dickinson’s departing from life. This is revealed in the first stanza when she says,“ he kindly stopped for me.” This tells us that humans should accept death, because it will indeed stop for you rather you want it, or not.

The author reveals how willingful she is to go with death within the second stanza when she says, “put away…labor and…leisure too for his civility”. It seems as if though Dickinson is accepting death as her fate. In the third stanza Dickinson states,“We passed the school where children strove.” She addresses the generosity death has given her by allowing her one last look on her childhood memories. She also says, “ We passed the fields of gazing grain.” This drive allowed for Dickinson to see back on the best parts of her life.The author passing the setting sun represents the author dying. This allows the reader to understand that life is more beautiful when death has occurred. The world moves on without her leaving her cold and damp in her grave. This is closely relates to her poem about the funeral she feels she is having within.

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“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,” is about the author going insane about losing her grip on reality. The author felt as if her sanity was sliding away. In the first stanza, Dickinson used the funeral as a metaphor for what is going on inside her head. It is as if her reason and sanity have passed away. There is chaos in her mind like the voices and whispers you would hear at a funeral. When the author says, “As all the heavens were a bell” she is referring to the bells that are rung to announce someone’s death. This poem suggest the loss of something. It is questioned rather reason and sanity are lost, or if reason and sanity is what kills. Although, death is not easy to deal with, one can lose their sanity over death. The sanity a person has is apart of being alive. Following the death of someone comes grief.

Grief is an important part of death. It lets us know we have loved. It is an honor to those who have passed along with the relationship that was shared. Grief allows for one to detach and let go of someone, while not forgetting, but remembering the joy. We use grieving to say goodbye to the ones we loved. In the end, this allows only the memories you shared to be left behind. Emily Dickinson wrote a poem, “I measure every Grief I meet.” The author tells us about the unusual habit she has of measuring grief. She tells us how she compares the grief of others to her own within the first stanza. This measuring that the author does begins to make her question if someone is more sad than she is, or have they felt it for as long as she has. In the fourth stanza she says, “At length renew their smile.” Dickinson talks on her skepticism with people who get over their grief. She suggests that maybe people are faking their recovery. The author never gets the answer she was seeking. Although it doesn't really matter to her, she never finds out why someone are sad. The act of realizing that someone else is sad is the small thing that makes her feel better inside. This closely relates to her poem about hope.

“ Hope is the thing with feathers,” is a spiritual poem. The author starts off talking about how hope has feathers. The feathers and the “Perches” are a metaphor. She is being optimistic and literal. The author wants us to see her hope as a bird. Dickinson wants the bird to be seen like it is not in a cage but in the soul. This is to say that hope is found within the soul of everyone. Located in the first stanza when the author says, “ And sings the tune without the words. And never stops - at all ,” is a metaphor to say that hope never stops. Hope is something that never stops singing. In other words, hope is a steady force. It's always there. Hope is apart of the soul. Just as death is apart of life. Understanding the inevitable fate we all have is a necessity for making life more valuable.

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Because I Could Not Stop For Death: Dickinson’s Views On Death. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Because I Could Not Stop For Death: Dickinson’s Views On Death.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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