Death Poetry

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Dr. Georgia Wilder
August 2, 2011
To Fear or Not to Fear- A Look at Death in Emily Dickinson’s “The Chariot” and Alan Seeger’s “I Have a Rendezvous with Death”
Is death something to be feared when it may be considered the only aspect during life that is inevitable? Interestingly, the speakers in two poems written by Emily Dickinson and Alan Seeger may not feel that this is the case. In Dickinson’s “The Chariot”, the feminine speaker compares succumbing to death as a chariot ride passing places she has been in her life, while the speaker in Seeger’s “I have a Rendezvous with Death” is a masculine speaker that is assumed to be a soldier fighting in the war and experiencing many close encounters with this morbid experience. Both poems together shed a light of acceptance of death into world that generally has been taught to fear it, but in different extremes. I will argue that time is the ultimate factor that contributes to the acceptance of one’s passing away. This will be shown through the comparison of the personas and literary devices in each poem, as Dickinson’s speaker, who has been dead for centuries, in comparison to Seeger’s speaker, who is anticipating his death, have slight differences in the way they perceive death. Personification is cleverly used in both poems to humanize death and differentiates the two poems because of the certain characteristics that each poet gives to Death as a character. In Dickinson’s poem, death is personified in a manner that makes Death an active agent that is continuously alongside the speaker. The speaker consistently refers to Death as a partner, using the words “we” and “us” in stanzas two through five. By utilizing personification in this way, the speaker sets up the notion that death has been a long time partner of hers, not just an acquaintance, which indicates the length of time she must have spent with Death. The collaboration between the speaker and death in this poem shows that she has an...
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