Because i c ould not stop death Essay

This essay has a total of 1330 words and 9 pages.

because i c ould not stop death

Dickinson's Because I Could Not Stop For Death
Collamer M Abbott. The Explicator. Washington: Spring 2000.Vol. 58, Iss. 3; pg. 140, 4 pgs
People: Dickinson, Emily (1830-86)
Author(s): Collamer M Abbott
Document types: Feature
Publication title: The Explicator. Washington: Spring 2000. Vol. 58, Iss. 3; pg. 140, 4 pgs
Source type: Periodical
ISSN/ISBN: 00144940
Text Word Count 1077
Document URL: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=000000056709394&Fmt=3&cli entId=43168&RQT=309&VName=PQD
Abstract (Document Summary)
Once one realizes that Emily Dickinson is talking about a stone burial vault in "Because I
could not stop for Death," an image that expands the metaphoric power of the poem, one can
appreciate more fully related imagery in her poems. The figure of the "House" in "Because
I could not stop for Death" and "I died for Beauty" expands the symbolism immeasurably
beyond the moldy receptacle of an underground grave, to a hospitable dwelling.


Full Text (1077 words)
Copyright HELDREF PUBLICATIONS Spring 2000
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 GroundSince then--'tis Centuries-and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses' Heads

were toward Eternity--*

-Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death" (no. 712) has aroused conflicting
interpretations. For example, Clark Griffith in The Long Shadow sees death as a "courtly
lover," and "kindness" and "civility" he accepts "at face value" as describing "Death" as
a "gentleman" (127-31). We can accept little at face value in Dickinson, and this is why
she is so difficult to interpret.


Griffith has a point, however. "Death," in this poem, may represent the funeral director,
because in modern life we find no one more "courtly" in the true sense of the word, nor
anyone more full of unctuous "kindness" and "civility" while escorting "the Lady to her
bridal rooms," as Griffith says. Funeral processions always proceed "slowly" and often
majestically. The speaker in the poem, who is dead, has certainly put away her labor and
leisure to confront Death's "courtly civility." We might take "Immortality" at face value,
but immortality is not a person; it is each individual's concept of "unending existence"
or "lasting fame," according to Webster's. The word then has no "face value."


Ruth Miller reads "paused" literally, and sees "no burial" (193-94). But can we take words
literally? I think not. Because "Centuries [. . .] Feel shorter than the Day" in this
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