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-
Emily Dickenson “712” The poem, “Because I could not stop for death” by Emily Dickinson conveys a poem of death with a tense that is describing a journey beyond death. Death is a common theme for Emily Dickinson, but “Because I could not stop for death” seems to present this theme in a different perspective. She explains, that death kindly stops for her as an allusion to death being kind and peaceful. With a death theme that is very common for Emily Dickinson, “because I could not stop for death” is a poem that convinces the audience that death will come for all so there is no need to be afraid of it. One major traits used in this poem is personification. Personification is characterizing death all throughout this poem. Personification is defining in most types of poetry and paints a picture that makes poetry what it is. Death is portrayed as “kindly stopping” and “slowly drove”. The “he” used in this poem seems to be referred to death making it seem as if death is an actual person. There are also other objects being personified such as “a swelling of the ground”, “dews drew quivering and chill”, “house swelling”, and “grazing grain”. Another literary device involved in this poem is alliteration which is a repetition of the same letter at the beginning of the word such as the “grazing grain”,” setting sun”, “horses heads” and “recess in the ring”. These alliterations make the poem flow and roll off the tongue nicely. Rhyme is also a significant part of this poem. The rhyme scheme is a little complicated. It starts out as an ABCB in the first and second stanza with the rhyme being a slant rhyme, meaning it sounds similar but is not a complete rhyme. Then the rest of the poem does not really seem to have a particular rhyme scheme, but rather just some random rhyming here and there. Perhaps Emily Dickinson did this because she wanted a more serious tone for the end of the poem instead of a catchy, flowing poem. The random rhyming happens with the last word of the first, second, and last stanza rhyme: immorality, civility, and eternity. This might just be from coincidence but maybe Emily wanted to put emphasis on these words to extenuate death. Emily seems to like having complicated rhyme schemes throughout her poems. A few other literary devices present in “because I could not stop for death” are symbolism and imagery. The setting sun in this poem seems to be a symbol of the life cycle meaning being born, living, and dying. The sun is setting meaning death is very close. Another symbol is the house swelling. This might be a stretch but maybe it symbolizes a funeral home or a grave sight because if the house is “swelling” then maybe it’s growing meaning the resting place is getting fuller from people dying. The last significant symbols are the carriage and the horses’ heads. If a religious view is taken on this poem then the carriage can resemble the time period where a person’s soul is being taken to God like a ride up to heaven. The horses’ heads could possibly symbolize the angels guiding the narrator up to heaven. Because the narrator says they see the horses’ heads on their way to eternity.