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~Because I Could Not Stop For Death~

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Rachel Pak

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of ~Because I Could Not Stop For Death~

Because I Could Not Stop For Death Emily Dickinson Language & Tone Shape & Pattern Tone Diction Characteristic of Emily Dickinson, this poem contains vast amount of dashes. There are several reasons why Dickinson uses dashes: Mood: effect that the poem has on the reader. The meter alternates between iambic tetrameter (lines with eight syllables) and iambic trimeter (lines with six syllables).
First line= 8
Second line= 6
Third line= 8
Fourth line= 6 The second and fourth lines of stanzas 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 rhyme. However, some of the lines contain only close rhymes or eye rhymes. In the third stanza, there is no end rhyme at all. 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 – Point of View Imagery Who is the speaker? The speaker is a woman describing her journey to death. She rides leisurely in a carriage with Death; past children, fields, and the setting sun; but there is a drastic change at the end of the poem: "Since then- 'tis Centuries- and yet/ Feels shorter than the day"
Time seems to rush suddenly foreword and the speaker looks back on the journey from the sudden vantage point of one who has been dead a long time... Emily Dickinson Most of Dickinson's poems are written from the first person perspective. She herself said that: "When I state myself, as the Representative of the Verse- it does not mean- me- but a supposed person" so, we can assume that the speaker is not an actual person with a name, who lived in certain time and then died. It's more of an emblematic figure who's death is a universal thing. (1830-1886) Emily Dickinson was born on December 1930, in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a reasonably wealthy & successful family. She received an excellent education and during her school years she was considered a social and spirited young woman.
At college, Emily Dickinson rebelled against conventional religion.
During her early twenties, Dickinson began to grow more and more inclusive to the point where she rarely descended from her room in her father's house. She dressed entirely in white and developed a reputation as a town eccentric. She is known to have written at least 1,775 poems. "Her poetry is remarkable for its tightly controlled emotional and intellectual energy. In theme and tone her writing reaches for the sublime as it charts the landscape of the human soul." Context Tone: voice of the poet or speaker in the poem Atmosphere: combination of mood and tone The tone of the speaker is relatively calm. Either she was somewhat prepared for her death or the centuries she has had to contemplate her death has led to an acceptance of her fate. The poem is a journey and though the overall tone is calm and complacent, the tone does change slightly as the speaker gets closer and closer to death.
In the first 3 stanzas the tone is relaxed, amiable and unperturbed. In the 4th stanza the speaker is more tentative as she starts to question her existence and the intentions of her companion. Then in the 5th and 6th stanza, the tone is more sad and serious as she calmly comes to the realization of her unnerving destiny. powerful, haunting, and slightly nostalgic Dickinson's life has been described as "a succession of deaths" as one by one she lost people who were close to her. Also,
Dickinson wrote this poem during the era of the American Civil War, where death was an ever present reality. "Does not Eternity appear dreadful to you...I often get thinking of it and it seems so dark to me that I almost wish there was no Eternity. To think that we must forever live and never cease to be. It seems as if Death which all so dread because it launches us upon an unknown world would be a relief to so endless a state of existence."
- Emily Dickinson Instead of viewing death as the end of life, Dickinson sees it as a journey into eternal consciousness... something that scares her. Death allegory: a story, picture or poem that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. Dickinson personafies death as a gentleman caller. I think the purpose of this is to show how people can come to the gradual acceptance of their death. By portraying death as something so sensible and commonplace as a gentleman, Dickinson seems to calm any fears that we may have about death. "We slowly drove- He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For his Civility," "Labor" and "Leisure" are used here to describe human life. She puts away life for the "civility" of death.
We passes the School, where Children strove
At Recess- in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-
We passed the Setting Sun- = the death was a slow one
showing the kindness and
thoughtfulness of Death. = implies that life is a struggle = implies"Ring Around the Rosie", innocently playing about death. = a traditional symbol of death (calm, sad and beautiful) =Nature and earth... For only Gossamer, my Gown-
My Tippet- only Tulle = tulle is used both for bridal veils and funeral veils. Which -if either- does she mean? The significance of passing the sun is that in doing so, they have passed time and left all earthly comfort and suddenly they have entered a darker, colder world. We paused before a House... = final resting place. Her grave. Again, as with Death she describes it as something comforting and ordinary. Other Symbolism Three symbols in succession are used to represent the passing of human life. I see it as the passing of physical activities,, nature and then life itself. all these symbols are simpatico with the overall allegory but have their own connotations. What effect does it have on YOU? Now, how does the poet use language and structure to evoke these feelings? Dickinson uses light, informal language and then dramatically uses the words "Death", "Immortality" and "Eternity".
By expressing death in unextraordinary terms she makes more of an impact when she implies that these mundane things such as the carriage or the house actually hold the weight of eternity. The poem starts with the word "Because". This word has the effect of launching us into the poem/ journey/ ride. Was it then "Because" she could not stop for death that he actually did stop for her? Is this a reinforcement of the irony and unfairness of life where only the good (or in this case only the busy) die young? In any case she is forced to meet death on his own terms, though at first it doesn't phase her. -This can be seen in the NOUNS used. Such as: Carriage, School, Recess, Grain, House... = suggests that she did not expect the ride to be for all eternity. Or rather- He passed us = personification of the sun OR, These images could refer to the 3 stages of life: childhood, adulthood and old age. The structured meter gives the poem unity and makes it easier to read Meter: Because I could not stop for Death
he knew no haste
My labor, and my leisure too
At recess, in the ring
gazing grain
setting sun
For only gossamer my gown
My tippet only tulle
toward eternity Alliteration Anaphora We passed the School...
We passed the Fields...
We passed the Setting...
Or rather- He passed Us- Paradox Since then- 'tis Centuries- and yet
Feels shorter than the Day effect: creates a sound that is pleasant and almost comforting to the ears. It makes the poem sound more cheerful and lyrical. effect: emphasizes the idea of movement and helps the poem to sound like an actual journey. effect: the paradox adds depth and complexity to the poem; it makes the reader pause and it conveys a sense of whit. - to interrupt the reader and show a shift in thought "Or rather- He passed Us-" -to make the reader pause in order to feel the emphasis of the words "We slowly drove- He knew no haste" Dashes - to create an informal and uncertain tone. The lines seem to fall away rather than complete the ENJAMBMENT in this poem creates a sense of movement as one line leads into another. Were towards Eternity- - The last dash in the poem emphasizes the idea of eternity as it leaves the poem without a sense of finality. Dickinson uses CAPITALIZATION to give emphasis to the words that she uses. All the nouns are capitalized (a common practice in German which is a language Dickinson studied). The poem is allegorical and so it could be that the nouns are capitalized because they're each important in conveying the overall meaning. Rhyme Iambic Meter makes the poem flow smoothly and doesn't sound contrived. The capitalization forces the reader to pause and consider the word instead of just breezing over it. This poem is very similar to the structure of hymns. It has rhyming quatrains and a regular metrical pattern. The rhyme is scattered unevenly throughout the poem tying the sounds loosely together.
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