Might I but moor To-night in Thee! Among the ranks of other such acclaimed poets as Walt WhitmanEmily Dickinson is considered one of the most original 19th Century American poets.
We slowly drove, he knew no haste, And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility. We passed the school, where children strove At recess, in the ring; We passed the fields of gazing grain, We passed the setting sun.
Or rather, he passed us; The dews grew quivering and chill, For only gossamer my gown, My tippet only tulle. We paused before a house that seemed A swelling of the ground; The roof was scarcely visible, The cornice but a mound. Dickinson left several versions of this poem.
I have followed the version used by Thomas H. Johnson in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, because I think this version is more effective than the one in your textbook.
I have included the deleted stanza because I believe it strengthens the poem. Death is personified as a gentleman caller or suitor. Johnson calls him "one of the great characters of literature.
Is Death a kind, polite suitor? The speaker refers to his "kindness" and "civility. If he is the courteous suitor, then Immortality, who is also in the carriage or hearse would be their chaperon, a silent one. Is Death actually a betrayer, and is his courtly manner an illusion to seduce her?
Is Death really cruel? She is not properly dressed for their journey; she is wearing only a gossamer gown and tulle tippet gossamer: The drive symbolizes her leaving life. She progresses from childhood, maturity the "gazing grain" is ripe and the setting dying sun to her grave.
The children are presented as active in their leisure "strove". The images of children and grain suggest futurity, that is, they have a future; they also depict the progress of human life.
Is there irony in the contrast between her passivity and inactivity in the coach and their energetic activity? The word "passed" is repeated four times in stanzas three and four.
They are "passing" by the children and grain, both still part of life. They are also "passing" out of time into eternity.
The sun passes them as the sun does everyone who is buried. With the sun setting, it becomes dark, in contrast to the light of the preceding stanzas.
It also becomes damp and cold "dew grew quivering and chill"in contrast to the warmth of the preceding stanza. Also the activity of stanza three contrasts with the inactivity of the speaker in stanzas four and five.Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems Summary and Analysis of "Because I could not stop for Death --" Buy Study Guide In this poem, Dickinson’s speaker is communicating from beyond the grave, describing her journey with Death, personified, from life to afterlife.
The Complete Poems: Emily Dickinson: Comprising poems of the Belle of Amherst, whose life of the Imagination formed the transcendental bridge to modern American poetry. Because I could not stop for Death () Emily Dickinson, - Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born at the family's homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10, , into a prominent, but not wealthy, family. Her father, Edward Dickinson was a lawyer in Amherst and a trustee of Amherst College.
Two hundred years earlier, her patrilineal ancestors had arrived in the New World—in the Puritan Great Migration—where they prospered. The exceptional nature and musicality of Emily Dickinsons poetry has attracted many composers. A Certain Slant of Light features musical settings of Dickinson poems by four outstanding American composers: Aaron Copland, Gordon Getty, Jake Heggie and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Tony Abbott is and has been a full-time children’s writer for over 20 years now—he has written just over books, including Danger Guys, The Secrets of Droon, Firegirl, Kringle, The Postcard, Lunch-Box Dream, Underworlds, The Copernicus Legacy, and many more.
He lives and work in Trumbull, Connecticut, USA. He enjoys visiting schools and speaking at conferences.