Emily Dickinson is known for her poetry especially surrounding the subjects of death, love, and nature. These themes, however, are less standard than they may appear at first glance. Dickinson writes poetry with complex themes, and in many cases, each of her poems may be classified by more than one theme. “Because I could not stop for death” is a prime example of Dickinson’s multifaceted work. Emily Dickinson personifies death along with an underlying theme of love in “Because I could not stop for death.”
Within the first line of “Because I could not stop for death,” readers are already aware that the theme of death will occur throughout the poem. Rather than the standard theme of death, however, Dickinson introduces death taking on the
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In the second Stanza, the speaker says that they drove slowly and knew no haste, meaning that they took their time and did not hurry. Based on Dickinson’s choice of the word “he,” readers can infer that Death is the one who is in control of the carriage, or ultimately the situation. The two next lines of the Stanza can be interpreted to fit the underlying theme of love. The speaker packs away her labor and leisure, because of Death’s graciousness. His kindness has intrigued her and she has given up her work and relaxation in exchange for his civility, introducing this idea of love, or perhaps lust, for this gentleman. Although, we can also interpret these lines to mean that the speaker gave up her life for the graciousness of death, since she earlier implies this idea of death being a part of our eternal life. As the speaker and Death continue to ride in the carriage, they see sight that may be symbolic to the life cycle.
In the third Stanza, Dickinson paints the scene that they ride through in the carriage. This may lead to a readers’ interpretation as the literal experience of this carriage ride or the flashing of one’s life before death. It is almost strange that Dickinson describes such an ordinary recess scene in such full detail, especially as this stanza lacks a strong illusion to death, besides the idea that this may