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The Affirmation of Death in Emily Dickinson’s Work Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 26 May 2018

The Affirmation of Death in Emily Dickinson’s Work

Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Because I could not stop for Death-“, is a playful allegory in which death is personified as a gentleman. In the first line she writes, “Because I could not stop for death-/ He kindly stopped for me-,” (1-2) meaning that she is coming to meet death on his own terms. Usually death is presented as being unavoidable with associations of fear, but Dickinson describes her carriage ride as, “I had put away/ My labor and my leisure too,/For His Civility,” (6-8).

She describes death as being “civil” meaning that death was rather courteous and polite. The next stanza speaks of the many things she passes while riding in the carriage with death. “We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-/ We passed the Setting Sun,” (11-12). The carriage ride with death seems to be everlasting as they even pass the setting of the sun, describing the amount of time that is going by as well as specific natural images. In the next stanza she speaks of her dress as, “For only Gossamer, my Gown-/ My Tippet-only Tulle-,” (15-16).

When she talks about her tippet and tulle, it is unsure as to whether she is talking about the thin lacy fabric worn at weddings as a veil, or the black lacy mourning veil that women often wear at funerals. Because of the similarity to both, death becomes an extension of life. The next stanza describes, “a House that seemed/ A Swelling of the Ground-/ The Roof was scarcely visible-,” (17-19)

Dickinson uses the “house” metaphor when referring to a sort of tombstone, the house barley above the ground. Usually the carriage ride with death would be a one way ride, but in the end of her poem, she speaks of an eternity”. She uses a form when explaining her carriage ride with death that leads into the ride last many years, making death another extension of life. Although Dickinson lived both in seclusion and in mourning, she was very passionate in her poetry. As can be seen in her personification of Death and her over-simplification of death in the poem, “Because I could not stop for Death-“, and the conversation and unification among the dead in the poem, reveals that death is the ultimate truth or reality; it makes clear the true nature of God and the state of the soul.

It also proves that Emily Dickinson expressed the pain she endured from loneliness and mourning into her poetry, and it is this sublimation of pain, as well as other powerful emotions, into her poetry that has the power to move readers so profoundly.

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