Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

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 drew 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 — in the Ground —

Since then — ’tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity —

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem Because I could not stop for Death —


  1. John Townsend says:

    The line “Or rather – He passed us –” is a little jarring. It marks a sudden shift in mood. Indeed, it is the defining pivotal element of the poem. Before, things were rather casual, reflective, full of light, and somewhat pleasant. But then suddenly it´s shudderingly chill and dark. Even time is turned on its head it seems, and there´s a feeling of floating away from earthly underpinnings into a weird time-warped realm where immortality morphs into eternity. A most remarkable poem indeed!

  2. kaushal ghimire says:

    this poem shows that death is not the worst thing in our life and that he is very well mannered and comes when one longs for it the most, the poet certainly longed for her death and she thanked him for showing his civility and as a gesture of thanks he compromised her leisure and labor!!

  3. Paul says:

    Perhaps the poems meter can be taken as the rythmical,steady rotation of the hearst’s wheels or even the eternal ticking of life’s clock? All life works in cycles. The enivitablity of death resonates throughout the poem. Life is a procession. This poem reminds us of the final lonely journey that awaits us all.

  4. Gem says:

    This poem reminds us to be prepared for death.Although talking about death would be scary for those who have no contentment in his/her life. But the poet presents this masterpiece of how to treasure everything, her passion for death would only mean that she valued life(Immortality. She’s a great poet that she able to present the poem expressively.She’s really a great poet indeed!

  5. natalie says:

    i believe this poem is about her last minute on earth in a carrige to the underworld.

  6. Ram says:

    A carriage or a bus or a train picks up passengers at designated stops. Death is a vehicle which picks you up wherever you are. You do not wait for it, because you do not want to take it. But then you have no option. Death will definitely stop for you. He does not have to hurry or be harsh. You are destined to be his passenger, however unwilling you may be. The speaker in the poem accepts her situation with the same kind of equanimity realizing that it is inevitable.

  7. Flora says:

    Emily Dickinson is really a great poet,though many of her poems are indeed obscure!I have to give a presentation two weeks later,and luckily,i found this website,thanks for all the comments here!U make me understand this great poet better.I think i will do it better!What kind of lady can write such fantastic poems!They are really amazing!

  8. Carla says:

    she shows that she is dying… but she is dying alone. But she is taking a last glims of what life is, and what is going to be left behind

  9. Kelly says:

    This poem is very ingenious. It’s very obvious of Emily’s fascination with death and immortality, the surreal quality of lays unknown. This, I think, shows the true artistry of her writing, her ability to put down her opinions on things that really pull her curiousity, especially since most poets of her time never dared to write about death. Also, I think its very interesting how she poses death in a very uplifting, positive way, rather than the troubled and disturbed tragedy like most writers. Emily is very unique, creative, and very expressive. A definite role model towards those who likes to write.

  10. Marisela Torres says:

    I like this poem because she knew she was dying soon she was getting ready for it but wanted to stop but she could not

  11. Pinklover says:

    personally i extremely love this poem as it gives me an insight into Dickinson’s perception of ‘Death’. Death in this sense is commenced in such a matter of fact way especially when the subject matter is so grim. ‘Death’ is personified as a kind gentleman which is evident when stated ‘He’ and he has ‘kindly stopped’ for the speaker. He and the speaker are moving in a ‘carriage’ slowly driving which emphasizes the tranquility of the whole process and she puts away her leisure and her labor just for his civility the leisure and labor could be her preoccupations of day to day life. They pass the ‘School’, the ‘Recess’ and the Gazing Grain’. The Gazing Grain emphasizes the nature embodied which she passes. These things have no importance to the speaker due to her state.Stanza four however shows reality hitting her when she mention Or rather-He passed Us-. She is becoming even more dead as she is ‘quivering’ and her clothes consist of a flimsy material ‘Gossamer’ ‘Gown’. She is getting closer to finding out what lays ahead. Is their such thing as paradise? she feels happy with her exchange of life for death’s ‘civility’. She reaches her grave and the the ‘roof is scarcely visible’ which emphasizes that once the ‘Dead’ pass away they are forgotten as they are not visible. This may be the reason that the setting sun passes her. This whole journey returns to the start as the ‘horses head’ links with the ‘carriage’, which remains in a mystery! making the ending rather ambiguous

    Dickinson’s consistently uses eccentric use of capitals and concrete imagery to convey her feelings of death but she remains ambivalent in her poetry. Therefore we must fill in the gaps in order to make sense of what she is saying .

    That is my interpretation of Dickinson’s poem i hope it helps…:D

  12. Omar Barraza says:

    if she were alive and i’d fall for this woman..great poetry

  13. nirajan pokhrel says:

    one of my favorite poets,emily dickension and her poem,”Because i could not stop for death” has a tremendious effect on me and my feelings.after reading this poem everybody can feel that death,the taboo of human beings,is travelling with us.
    here, in the poem death has been personified and it is presented as the begining of the eternity.the speaker in the poem is trying to represent the whole life;the children playing in the school suggests the childhood’ the grain suggest the adult,and finally the setting sun suggest the old age of the human being.And in the last stanza which is in meditative mode of expression is most important in this poem where we can find the theme of the poem;human life is only the waiting for eternity which is started with the death of somebody.

  14. Cloressa Hayes says:

    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!

  15. Sophia Rothman age 11 says:

    I chose this poem because I really enjoyed it. I thought the poem was about Emily knowing that she would die soon so she writes about what the trip might be like. Heading toward eternity………….

  16. nathan says:

    emily writes this because she knows shes near death she died of heatache

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