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 –
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 –
Poem contains six quatrains: Six stanzas with four lines to each stanza.
Meter: alternates between Iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.
Stanzas 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 use end rhyme/eye rhyme in their second and fourth lines
There is no end rhyme in the third stanza. However, "ring" in line 2 rhymes with "gazing" and "setting" in lines 3 and 4.
Internal rhyme is scattered throughout.
The poem personifies Death as a gentleman caller who takes a leisurely carriage ride with the poet to her grave.
In “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” death is personified, he comes to pick up the speaker and carries them away in a carriage. On the ride with death the speaker experiences the stages of life, seeing them outside of the carriage. They passed a school where children were outside playing, representing youth; a field of gazing grain, representing maturity; and the setting sun representing the passing into death.
In contrast to the third stanza, a warm and light stanza, the fourth stanza shows the speaker receiving a great chill this is because they are moving closer to death. The fifth stanza creates the image of a house, a comforting image that one does not normally associate with death. Ultimately in Dickinson’s poem she represents death in a scenario where the person dying accepts their death and considers it their homecoming, hence why the house is used to depict the grave. In Dickinson’s poem the speaker greats death in a humble and welcoming fashion, accepting death and lamenting on the life that is now behind them. Dickinson illustrates death as inevitable and something that the speaker can not escape.
Dickinson uses eye rhymes a lot: words that look like they should rhyme but are just slightly off.
Personification is also present in this poem. Dickinson personifies death here: “Because I could not stop for death,/He kindly stopped for me” (Lines 1-2). Death is giving humanistic values and is linked to the pronoun He. Dickinson creates an image for death, giving it more meaning and creating a scene where one meets death and is no longer within the ring of the living.
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