Monday, April 7, 2008

Intro. "Because I could not stop for Death"

Dickinson, Emily. "Because I could not stop for Death." The Norton Introduction to Poetry. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th edition. New York: Norton 2007. 531.

In this poem, the speaker is personifies death as a nice and selfless gentlemen who takes her on a long journey in a carriage toward "eternity" as said in the last line of the poem; however, at the end of the poem and after she has finished her voyage, she then discovers that she had died a long time ago.

I happen to love all of Emily Dickinson's poems and this poems text really caught my eye. After reading it a few times it becomes clear that life is a cycle. The poem has a lot of symbolism and signifies the three stages of life: Childhood, which is recognized in the third stanza ("Children strove), youth which is represented by "the Fields of Gazing Grains" in line eleven, and characterizing the end of life, is symbolized by the "setting sun" in line twelve. On this journey, the speaker views the youthful children at play and the grass in the fields and at last, the speaker sees that the sun is setting on her journey. This is a strong stanza because it gives the reader a clue of her passing by this world. Moreover, it shows life as a cycle and uses a conflict relationship between reality and the speaker's thoughts. This poem displays a lot of tension. At first, the speaker does not realize she has died and there is mixed tones in the poem that add to the speaker's confusion. I really liked the tone in the last two stanzas, Dickinson uses a sad tone and this shows the reader that the speaker perceives reality, thus becoming very calm once she realizes her fate.

This poem could be related to, Howard Nemerov's poem, "The Town Dump." In class, we discussed that Nemerov's poem had a lot of symbolism and glorified the things of people's lives that were in the dump. When taking a closer look at Nemerov's poem, it could be said that Nemerov is summing up "results" and the city is symbolic of life in general. All of the animals in the town dump co-exist beautifully with each other. The town dump is its very own city and way of life. Just like Dickinson's poem showing life as a cycle, Nemerov's poem symbolizes life and the cycles of life and the "results" we get when we put everything together.


Melissa Kerrigan said...

I like your interpretation of this poem. It helped me understand the life cycle a lot better. Emily Dickinson has some amazing poetry. She has the ability to take something that should be morbid [such as death] and give it a kind of harmless beauty.

Marissa said...

(love Emily Dickinson!)

Nice commentary on the cycle! What I've always found interesting about this poem is how Death and Immortality are apparently in the carriage together with her.

jgchurch111 said...

I really liked this poem too. In my theory presentation group (deconstruction) we chose to look at this work. Your interpration is helpful in fully understanding the meaning. We hadn't even discussed the beginning, middle, and end stages of life yet. Thanks!