Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death" is a remarkable masterpiece that
exercises thought between the known and the unknown. Critics call Emily Dickinson's
poem a masterpiece with strange "haunting power." In Dickinson's poem, "Because I
could not stop for Death," there is much impression in the tone, in symbols, and in the
use of imagery that exudes creativity.
One might undoubtedly agree to an eerie, haunting, if not frightening, tone in
Dickinson's poem. Dickinson uses controlling adjectives-"slowly" and "passed"-to
create a tone that seems rather placid. For example, "We slowly drove-He knew no
haste / ...We passed the School ... / We passed the Setting Sun-," sets a slow, quiet,
calm, and dreamy atmosphere (5, 9, 11, 12). "One thing that impresses us," one author
wrote, "is the remarkable placidity, or composure, of its tone" (Greenberg 128). The tone
in Dickinson's poem will put its readers' ideas on a unifying track heading towards a
Dickinson's masterpiece lives on complex ideas that are evoked through symbols, which
carry her readers through her poem. Besides the literal significance of -the "School,"
"Gazing Grain," "Setting Sun," and the "Ring"-much is gathered to complete the poem's
central idea. Emily brought to light the mysteriousness of life's cycle. Ungraspable to
many, the cycle of one's life, as symbolized by Dickinson, has three stages and then a
final stage of eternity. These three stages are recognized by Mary N. Shaw as follows:
"School, where children strove"(9) may represent childhood; "Fields of Gazing
Grain"(11), maturity; and "Setting Sun" (12) old age" (21). In addition to these three
stages, the final stage of eternity was symbolized in the last two lines of the poem, the
"Horses Heads" (23), leading "towards Eternity" (24). Dickinson fathomed the
incomprehensible progression of life by unraveling its complexity with figurati...
Page 1 of 3