Emily Dick Stop For Death Essay, Research Paper
January 20, 2000 Word count 708
? Because I Could Not Stop for Death?
For as long as history has been recorded and probably for much longer, man
has always been at odds with the idea of his own death. Even those of us who
have accepted death graciously, have at least in some way, — feared, dreaded, or
attempted to delay its arrival. We have personified death– as an evildoer dressed
in all black, its presence swoops down upon us and chokes the life from us as
though it were some street murder with malicious intent. But in reality, we
know that death is not the chaotic grim reaper of fairy tales and mythology.
Rather than being a cruel and unfair prankster of evil, death is an unavoidable
and natural part of life itself.
In recent centuries, poets have spent a great deal of their time writing of
death and inevitably — both as a figure of admiration and one of questionable
concern. In her classic poem entitled “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,”
Emily Dickinson realizes that to escape death is impossible and she shows that it
need not be painful, therefore the poem maintains a serene tone throughout.
Although not necessarily depicted as a sadistic murderer of innocence, death is
indeed personified by Dickinson to a certain extent,– as an unavoidable
conqueror– one hanging over us and around us,– inescapable.
The first line tells us exactly what we’re reading about and what we can
expect. There is no gradual build-up to the main point as is the case with the
works of some other poets. Instead, there is merely a progression of explanation.
Many years beyond the grave, the narrator portrays the placid process of her
passing, in which Dealth is personified as he escorts Emily to the Carriage.
During her slow ride she realizes that the ride will last for all eternity.
?The Carriage held but just Ourselves-
It is my opinion that the speaker in this poem exemplified the voice of all
people– not wanting to. She ‘could not stop for death’ as none of us really
believe we can or that we have the time. Most people die unexpectedly– and are
not ready to stop everything they have and want to do just to cease living. It
seems that the narrator in this case had too much for which to live and she had
not finished her life. Hence, she tried to delay death;– to sidestep it. None of us
want to die but none of us can prevent it. The narrator of the poem is especially
human and chillingly realistic in that sense. And so as the clich? reminds us,
death will find us when we hide from it. It is important once again in this poem
to remember that death is being personified as perhaps–the ‘Angel of Death’–or
some relevant equivalent.
By riding with death, however, the narrator fools herself into thinking that she
is not dead. She has found immortality by riding along “with” Death. As we
pass the school, the fields, and the sun; we pass through all the stages of life with
the narrator. Death does not come quickly. Rather, it arrives with a menacing
slowness; she has ridden with him and is now reflecting upon her well-lived
years. In this sense, we all ride alongside death as it certainly does indeed follow
us everywhere go. Yet in the case of Dickinson’s narrator, she realizes she could
not avoid nor escape death; for all along she had been riding with it. The
“Horse’s Heads” refers to the carriage in which they ride; and she now knows all
along that she has been heading towards this eternity and that the only way to
eternity is through death; not through living.
And so in conclusion, the irony in this particular poem is that the author
actually heroicizes death by the time it is over. In a sense, she has adhered to the
principles of the proverbial clich? “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” In doing so,
death has become her lifelong friend and the companion that she has always