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Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could not Stop for Death"

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...

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Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could not Stop for Death". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:25, December 21, 2014, from