Dickinson, Emily. "Because I could not stop for Death".
Summary and Analysis
(from American Literature I lectures)
The first part of the poem is a pleasant portrayal of Death as a polite gentleman who stops for the speaker to take her for a drive in a carriage. The carriage carries only the speaker, Death, and Immortality, the latter of which should most likely evoke positive and pleasing associations. This atmosphere finds however an abrupt end in a dash.
The following description of the journey is of a dream-like quality, it is similar as in a dream in which we find ourselves detached on one hand and performers of actions on the other hand. First they pass the school and children, then fields, then the setting sun. There is a kind of a Gothic image of a disintegrating body when the clothes of the speaker begin to grow thinner and thinner. This might also suggest the coldness associated with death.
There is another abrupt end though the journey has not finished yet; but the carriage moves beyond the limits of the familiar. Also the very end of the poem is a dash, it is when the carriage moves beyond the limits of imagination. It goes on toward "Eternity".
AuthorDickinson, Emily. (1830 - 1886).
Full TitleUntitled, the first line is used for identification.
Dickinson, Emily. "Because I could not stop for Death". In: The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. NY: Norton, 1989.
American Literature I Lectures.