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10/10/2018

Emily Dickinson's use of imagery in her poem “Because I could not stop for Death”.



        Imagery is one of the basic tools that poets use to suggest the intended meanings, to impart vivid pictures, to add sensuousness and to attach poetic charms. In “Because I could not stop for Death” Emily Dickinson uses imagery for the same purposes. Most of the images in this poem are clear though a few are not so distinct. The major images used in this poem are: a journey on a horse-drawn carriage, Death as a bridegroom, the speaker as a bride, Immortality as a person, school children playing in class-break, fields of ripe grains, the setting sun, the shroud as a wedding dress, the grave as a house and the heads of the horses pointing towards eternity. All these images are functional in conveying the meaning of the poem.          Readers of the poem come across the image of the carriage and its three passengers_  Death, the bride (speaker) and Immortality_ in the first stanza.  The image of the journey starts here. The carriage moved along slowly. Then, we meet the images of school children playing in class-break, fields of ripe grains and the setting sun:                   We passed the School, where Children strove                   At Recess_ in the Ring_                   We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain_                   We passed the Setting Sun_         The images in this stanza have symbolic dimension.The image of the school children symbolizes childhood, the image of “Gazing Grains” symbolizes midlife and the “Setting Sun” symbolizes  dying of the speaker. The poet makes it clear that death was present in childhood, in midlife and in old age till the end of life of the speaker. The journey continued and the speaker felt quivering chill in her gossamer-like thin gown. This image suggests that she was already dead; so the temperature of her body fell down to zero. The thin gown is both a shroud and a wedding dress. At this point of the journey the marriage between Death and the bride (speaker) was complete.         The carriage of the bridegroom now reached the bridal house. The image of the house has been described so vividly that it suggests nothing but the grave:                   We paused before a House that seemed                   A  Swelling of the Gorund_                   The Roof was scarcely visible_                    The Cornice_ in the Ground_       They passed a little time there. The journey starts again. In the last stanza we come across the image of  the horses which now moved towards eternity. In this stanza it is suggested that this journey is the journey from childhood to eternity through grave. It is also made clear that the journey was undertaken centuries ago. The poem ends with the suggestion that the journey would continue in the space of eternity.           So, the images in “Because I could not stop for Death”  are vivid and suggestive. The readers are charmed as soon as they discover the meanings of the images. Bringing them together the poet aptly conveys the desired meanings.
  Imagery is one of the basic tools that poets use to suggest the intended meanings, to impart vivid pictures, to add sensuousness and to attach poetic charms. In “Because I could not stop for Death” Emily Dickinson uses imagery for the same purposes. Most of the images in this poem are clear though a few are not so distinct. The major images used in this poem are: a journey on a horse-drawn carriage, Death as a bridegroom, the speaker as a bride, Immortality as a person, school children playing in class-break, fields of ripe grains, the setting sun, the shroud as a wedding dress, the grave as a house and the heads of the horses pointing towards eternity. All these images are functional in conveying the meaning of the poem.
        Readers of the poem come across the image of the carriage and its three passengers_  Death, the bride (speaker) and Immortality_ in the first stanza.  The image of the journey starts here. The carriage moved along slowly. Then, we meet the images of school children playing in class-break, fields of ripe grains and the setting sun:
                 We passed the School, where Children strove
                 At Recess_ in the Ring_
                 We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain_
                 We passed the Setting Sun_
       The images in this stanza have symbolic dimension.The image of the school children symbolizes childhood, the image of “Gazing Grains” symbolizes midlife and the “Setting Sun” symbolizes  dying of the speaker. The poet makes it clear that death was present in childhood, in midlife and in old age till the end of life of the speaker. The journey continued and the speaker felt quivering chill in her gossamer-like thin gown. This image suggests that she was already dead; so the temperature of her body fell down to zero. The thin gown is both a shroud and a wedding dress. At this point of the journey the marriage between Death and the bride (speaker) was complete.
       The carriage of the bridegroom now reached the bridal house. The image of the house has been described so vividly that it suggests nothing but the grave:
                 We paused before a House that seemed
                 A  Swelling of the Gorund_
                 The Roof was scarcely visible_
                  The Cornice_ in the Ground_
     They passed a little time there. The journey starts again. In the last stanza we come across the image of  the horses which now moved towards eternity. In this stanza it is suggested that this journey is the journey from childhood to eternity through grave. It is also made clear that the journey was undertaken centuries ago. The poem ends with the suggestion that the journey would continue in the space of eternity.
         So, the images in “Because I could not stop for Death”  are vivid and suggestive. The readers are charmed as soon as they discover the meanings of the images. Bringing them together the poet aptly conveys the desired meanings.

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