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Updated: Nov 1, 2020


Because I could not stop for Death was written by Emily Dickinson and was published first in Poem: Series 1 in 1890 under the title “The Chariot”. In this poem Death was personified and the poet included many figure of speeches like paradox, anaphora, alliteration and personification. She explains her trip in a carriage until both (death & poet) reaches her grave. Some imagery also was used by poet in this poem. Let’s begin our ride with them both (read poem and summary).


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 –


The poet says that she couldn’t stop for ‘Death’. Death is personified as ‘He’, who has come to cease her and put an end to her life. His carriage (Death Chariot) held only two of them (Death and the poet) as well as accompanied by immortality (eternal life). All of them travels slowly, in whom ‘He’ rides without hastiness. She says that she left all her work and free time for his gentility. They pass the School, where all children play by encircling during their break time. Also pass over the fields of crops which look upward (looking at passer-by) and she says that the setting sun has probably passed them rather than they pass it. As the dews have formed out of the shuddering and wintry; and as her gown is made of delicate thin material, her scarf out of soft and fine fabric, it made her feel cold. Later, they pause before a House (grave) that is partly buried in ground. The roof of the house is barely recognizable, even pelmet or ceiling is in the ground. Since then, it’s been Centuries (after death) and yet “Feels shorter than the Day” after deducing the Horses’ direction which is heading towards eternity.


Emily Dickinson by Hinds, Maurene J

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