Over the last few weeks, we have discussed and analyzed the important elements within poetry. A good poem is a symptom of the poet’s effort to make sense of the world. Often, a poet will use many different tools such as personification, symbols, and metaphors, etc. to ensure that the reader truly understands the underlying point and main idea of a poem.
This is precisely what Emily Dickinson did when she wrote: “Because I could not stop for Death”. In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” written by Emily Dickinson, Emily writes “Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me” (577 Lines 1-2). Death is described as a polite kindhearted gentleman who so kindly stops for Emily even though she did not apparently have the time of day to stop for him. Emily uses personification to describe how she feels about death as a “person”.
Death, in this case, is not someone who is evil, and a person who does not care about anyone other than themselves, but rather, he is a caring and kind person who is willing to give of his time to wait for someone else. Emily is giving these characteristics to Death to help the reader understand how she truly feels about Death. “We slowly drove – He knew no haste” (577 Dickinson Line 5). Emily again uses personification to help develop the poem and enhance the reader’s experience. Death is leading the way here. He seems to be in no rush and is there just to comfort Emily. Emily knows what is happening and yet she forgets about it and is just living in the moment as if nothing is bothering her because of the comfort which Death is providing. “We drove slowly” – as if we have all the time in the world – just be free and let go of everything which is pulling you down. “He Knew No Haste” – Death is in no rush thus, giving Emily the comfort and time to not worry about anything. Another excellent literary tool Emily uses in her poem “Because I could not stop for Death” to aid the reader is the use of symbols. “We passed the Setting Sun” (Dickinson 577 Line 12).
Emily is realizing that her time has come and that death is drawing near as the sun sets causing darkness not only on the world but on Emily herself. Although the sun takes time to set, from the time it rises in the morning until the time it sets at night – Emily realizes that her time is drawing nearer and nearer with every setting moment. Emily does not seem to fear death but rather, seems to be at peace with Death and she uses a metaphor to show this. “We paused before a House that seemed A swelling of the ground” (Dickinson 577 Lines 17-18). Death still “in the driver’s seat has brought them to their last stop – Emily’s final resting place – her grave site. Emily seems to be distancing herself from the house – her grave but if you take a look at the greater picture here, you can see that it is not distancing, but rather Emily coming to terms with the fact that she is about to lie down in her final resting place.
With every piece Emily Dickinson writes she seems to always have the reader at the forefront of her mind. With every piece she makes every effort to ensure the reader will understand what she is saying and moreover, exactly how she feels. She is so detailed in her writing, to the point of ensuring that not even the interpretation of her literary works of art are left to chance. That, in my opinion, is the epitome of a true artist and writer.