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10/16/2018

Critical appreciation of “Because I could not stop for Death”.


                                                 Emily Dickinson was an American poet who lived a major part of her life in seclusion and pursued spiritual quests relentlessly. She composed nearly 1800 poems which were published in 1890 in a collection four years after her death. “Because I could not stop for Death” is one of those poems. The poem deals with one of the recurrent themes of her poetry     death or mortality.    The poem presents the experience of death of the speaker who imagines that she died centuries ago. She speaks in first person in the context of past time.  The poem opens dramatically with the speaker's confession that she was busy with her daily labour and leisure of life when Death, along with Immortality, came in a carriage to pick her up. They passed school children, fields of ripe grains and the setting sun. Finally, they reached a grave described as a house. The journey still continued towards eternity.             This seemingly simple journey is not simple at all. The poet uses here symbols to convey the intended meanings. The journey is the journey from life to death. The carriage is the hearse that carries a dead body to the grave. The school is the early part of life. The gazing grains symbolize the old age. The setting sun is a symbol of a dying person. The house is a grave. The horses head towards eternity is the symbol of soul's journey into endless future. Thus, the speaker suggests that Death remained with her through her childhood, midlife and old-age. Even after the end of her physical existence, her journey continued.           The poem has the structure of a lyric with some qualities of a hymn. It consists of twenty-four iambic lines arranged in six quatrains. For example, the first line is comprised of five iambic feet and the second line is comprised of three iambic feet. It is worked out below:               Because/I could/ not stop/ for Death_               He kind/Iy stopped/ for me_     The general rhyming pattern of each stanza is abcb. In the first stanza, the first line and third line end with “Death” and ”Ourselves”  respectively. These words do not rhyme. The last word of the second line, ”me” rhymes with the last word of the fourth line, ”Immortality”. However, the later stanzas are not perfectly rhymed because there are variations. She uses “half rhyme” or “slant rhyme” as in the third stanza in which “Ring” does not rhyme with “Sun”. The poem resembles a hymn. A hymn is a religious song sung in praise of God or some other spiritual beings. This poem praises Death. Its quatrains are similar to that of a hymn. Its lyrical quality is also like that of a hymn.        Emily Dickinson's use of figures of speech heightens the poetic quality of this poem since the figures of speech help her suggest the intended meanings rather than state them. She mainly uses in it alliterations, personifications, metaphors, and an anaphora which effectively serve the purpose. She also uses capitalisations to emphasize particular ideas.             This short lyric is an extraordinary poem in which Emily Dickinson reveals her calm acceptance of death.
               
                         Emily Dickinson was an American poet who lived a major part of her life in seclusion and pursued spiritual quests relentlessly. She composed nearly 1800 poems which were published in 1890 in a collection four years after her death. “Because I could not stop for Death” is one of those poems. The poem deals with one of the recurrent themes of her poetry     death or mortality.

The poem presents the experience of death of the speaker who imagines that she died centuries ago. She speaks in first person in the context of past time.  The poem opens dramatically with the speaker's confession that she was busy with her daily labour and leisure of life when Death, along with Immortality, came in a carriage to pick her up. They passed school children, fields of ripe grains and the setting sun. Finally, they reached a grave described as a house. The journey still continued towards eternity.

         This seemingly simple journey is not simple at all. The poet uses here symbols to convey the intended meanings. The journey is the journey from life to death. The carriage is the hearse that carries a dead body to the grave. The school is the early part of life. The gazing grains symbolize the old age. The setting sun is a symbol of a dying person. The house is a grave. The horses head towards eternity is the symbol of soul's journey into endless future. Thus, the speaker suggests that Death remained with her through her childhood, midlife and old-age. Even after the end of her physical existence, her journey continued.

       The poem has the structure of a lyric with some qualities of a hymn. It consists of twenty-four iambic lines arranged in six quatrains. For example, the first line is comprised of five iambic feet and the second line is comprised of three iambic feet. It is worked out below:
             Because/I could/ not stop/ for Death_
             He kind/Iy stopped/ for me_
   The general rhyming pattern of each stanza is abcb. In the first stanza, the first line and third line end with “Death” and ”Ourselves”  respectively. These words do not rhyme. The last word of the second line, ”me” rhymes with the last word of the fourth line, ”Immortality”. However, the later stanzas are not perfectly rhymed because there are variations. She uses “half rhyme” or “slant rhyme” as in the third stanza in which “Ring” does not rhyme with “Sun”. The poem resembles a hymn. A hymn is a religious song sung in praise of God or some other spiritual beings. This poem praises Death. Its quatrains are similar to that of a hymn. Its lyrical quality is also like that of a hymn.
      Emily Dickinson's use of figures of speech heightens the poetic quality of this poem since the figures of speech help her suggest the intended meanings rather than state them. She mainly uses in it alliterations, personifications, metaphors, and an anaphora which effectively serve the purpose. She also uses capitalisations to emphasize particular ideas.
           This short lyric is an extraordinary poem in which Emily Dickinson reveals her calm acceptance of death.

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