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Analysis and comments on Because I could not stop for Death -- by Emily Dickinson

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Comment 51 of 391, added on November 30th, 2005 at 7:21 PM.

I found that this is one of the greatest poems in american history. Emily
Dickinson, portrayed death perfectly through a simple carriage ride.
Although she did not have time for death, death kindly stopped for her. For
someone of that time to think of that, is truly rare. Especially for a
woman nonetheless. She strung the imagery together flawlessly. it was as if
she was reminiscing the simple life, when she saw the school, young
innocent children striving, and going to recess. I believe that she was
traveling with death, and as she saw her life past by, but knew that there
was another in death, thus immortality and eternity.

kasumi from Japan
Comment 50 of 391, added on November 18th, 2005 at 7:21 AM.

Rereading Dickinson's poems about DEATH showed me that death in all her
poems is related to immortality.In death she does not see the end of life
;however she see the begining of iternity. In this poem she shows her wide
imagination, and her cleverness to personified Death as a suitor, I liked
that sooooo soo much!


Esaaf from Ukraine
Comment 49 of 391, added on November 14th, 2005 at 9:21 AM.

After reading these nice commentaries I discovered alot of things in this
poem which I did not see.Thnx for everybody who passed his comments. Now I
can see that this poem one of the greatest poems of Emily Dickinson, I like
her ,her poems give other ideas about death.
Dickinson has a profound understanding of the human psyche and a rare
ability to communicate a sense of despair and depression.

Esaaf from Ukraine
Comment 48 of 391, added on November 8th, 2005 at 9:52 AM.

From ALLEN TATE

One of the perfect poems in English is “Because I could not stop for
death,” and it exemplifies better than anything else [Emily Dickinson]
wrote the special quality of her mind. . . . If the word great means
anything in poetry, this poem is one of the greatest in the English
language; it is flawless to the last detail. The rhythm charges with
movement the pattern of suspended action back of the poem. Every image is
precise and, moreover, not merely beautiful, but inextricably fused with
the central idea. Every image extends and intensifies every other. The
third stanza especially shows Miss Dickinson’s power to fuse, into a single
order of perception, a heterogeneous series: the children, the grain, and
the setting sun (time) have the same degree of credibility; the first
subtly preparing for the last. The sharp gazing before grain instills into
nature a kind of cold vitality of which the qualitative richness has
infinite depth. The content of death in the poem eludes forever any
explicit definition. He is a gentleman taking a lady out for a drive. But
note the restraint that keeps the poet from carrying this so far that it is
ludicrous and incredible; and note the subtly interfused erotic motive,
which the idea of death has presented to every romantic poet, love being a
symbol interchangeable with death. The terror of death is objectified
through this figure of the genteel driver, who is made ironically to serve
the end of Immortality. This is the heart of the poem: she has presented a
typical Christian theme in all its final irresolution, without making any
final statement about it. There is no solution to the problem; there can be
only a statement of it in the full context of intellect and feeling. A
construction of the human will, elaborated with all the abstracting powers
of the mind, is put to the concrete test of experience: the idea of
immortality is confronted with the fact of physical disintegration. We are
not told what to think; we are told to look at the situation.

The framework of the poem is, in fact, the two abstractions, mortality and
eternity, which are made to associate in perfect equality with the images:
she sees the ideas. and thinks the perceptions. She did, of course, nothing
of the sort; but we must use the logical distinctions, even to the extent
of paradox. if we are to form any notion of this rare quality of mind. She
could not in the proper sense think at all, and unless we prefer the feeble
poetry of moral ideas that flourished in New England in the eighties, we
must conclude that her intellectual deficiency contributed at least
negatively to her great distinction. Miss Dickinson is probably the only
Anglo-American poet of her century whose work exhibits the perfect literary
situation— in which is possible the fusion of sensibility and thought.
Unlike her contemporaries, she never succumbed to her ideas, to easy
solutions, to her private desires.

. . . No poet could have invented the elements of “Because I could not stop
for death”; only a great poet could have used them so perfectly. Miss
Dickinson was a deep mind writing from a deep culture, and when she came to
poetry, she came infallibly.

Infallibly, at her best; for no poet has ever been perfect, nor is Emily
Dickinson. Her unsurpassed precision of statement is due to the directness
with which the abstract framework of her thought acts upon its unorganized
material. The two elements of her style, considered as point of view, are
immortality, or the idea of permanence, and the physical process of death
or decay. Her diction has two corresponding features: words of Latin or
Greek origin and, sharply opposed to these, the concrete Saxon element. It
is this verbal conflict that gives to her verse its high tension; it is not
a device deliberately seized upon, but a feeling for language that senses
out the two fundamental components of English and their metaphysical
relation: the Latin for ideas and the Saxon for perceptions—the peculiar
virtue of English as a poetic tongue. Only the great poets know how to use
this advantage of our language.


Min Yee from United States
Comment 47 of 391, added on October 23rd, 2005 at 6:24 PM.

I have to analyze this poem and was having trouble getting started and
figuring out all the symbolism, but reading through everyone's comments has
helped me greatly. I realized that her views on death aren't grim and that
although death is inevitable for everyone, there is a way to somewhat
welcome it and not fear it. Dickinson has done an amazing job in writing
this poem and many have done an amazing job taking it apart bit by bit and
finding the significance of everything. Thank you all for posting!

Student from United States
Comment 46 of 391, added on October 16th, 2005 at 6:54 PM.

On "Because I could not stop for death" (712) is defintely a beautiful
written poem. Though it is an experience with death, the imagery and the
way, in which, Dicksinson describes this death experience is absolutly
thought evoking. "Because I could not stop for Death-- he kindly stopped
for me-- forces one into a reality check. When one's life clock runs out,
there is no turning back. Hence, death is inevitable. Ironically, Dickison
states in line two, He (death)"kiindly" stopped for me--. In most people
psyche, death is veiwed as dark and inherently evil; however, Dickison's
usage of "kindly" suggests that death is is not necessarily a bad thing.
She proves this in lines 9-12 in a stream of consciousness form, revealing
her past experinces while alive. "We passed school where children stove, At
Recess--in the ring--We passed the fields of Grazing Grain--We passed the
setting sun." Though wiered as this experience with death may seem, death
and Emily are apparently having a romantic gathering in the spiritual
world. Overall, the major theme of this poem is death, however, by
Dickinson stating, "Because I could not stop death" reveals that at one's
appointed time, it is defintely inevitable that the sting of death cannot
be stopped.
Thank You!!!

Joel Floyd @ FAMU -English Major from United States
Comment 45 of 391, added on October 14th, 2005 at 11:37 PM.

Emily Dickinson does not has any fear toward death. She exposes in her
writing that it is a natural process, where maybe in the last hours or
minutes of our lives we started thinking about basic experiences that
everybody have passed by. In the first stanza she since to be struggling
with the time. I mean, she is comparing the carriage with life in a sense
of slowliness. We drive our carriage as fast as we want to. At the third
stanza she compares school, recess and children with The Fields and a
sunset. Obviously, that a huge difference. A place that you find noise,
people laughing VS a place that is quiet and you might only heard the wind.
The school might represent our young lives, the fields our passing through
life and the sunset our oldness. Finally for centuries the horse has
represent an animal of great value and I think she compares us with this
kind, noble animal that with his head looking foward life as we should do,
until our death kindly stopped for us., In a complete sense of Inmortality
and Etermity.

Janet Franco from United States
Comment 44 of 391, added on October 11th, 2005 at 11:28 AM.

This poem is all about death anyone that doesnt understand it well here u
go.

Rick from United States
Comment 43 of 391, added on September 27th, 2005 at 9:28 AM.

Dickinson personifies Death and forms a relationship with it. I believe
that she is in the process of Death. She is looking back on her life, as
shown in the third, fourth, and fifth stanzas. This obviously isn’t a
personal experience, as she speaks of a tulle dress (wedding gown). I think
that she is accepting death for what it is: an inevitability. She is
looking forward to dying, because she is looking forward toward eternity in
heaven.

Tony from United States
Comment 42 of 391, added on September 12th, 2005 at 11:08 AM.

I was given this poem for an writing assingment in class in my college Eng.
class, but I remember reading it before. However, I forgot what the poem
was about and now that I have read the comments, I am happy to say, I
understood it the first time I read it again 10 yrs later.

E. Loza from United States

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Information about Because I could not stop for Death --

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 712. Because I could not stop for Death --
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: 1955
Added: Jan 9 2004
Viewed: 1880 times
Poem of the Day: Nov 10 2002


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