Poem Analysis: Because I Could Not Stop for Death

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Miranda Jennifer
Professor A. Tripp
English 355
1, October 2012
Loss Is Nothing Else but Change

Experiencing a loss raises overwhelming feelings that are difficult to cope with. The emotions that accompany any kind of loss can be intense and varied. There are stages of grief that everyone goes through. A sense of shock or denial usually come first followed by anger. Bargaining follows anger, then depression, and finally acceptance. In “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” by Emily Dickinson, the speaker is taken on an un expected journey that illuminates her path of mourning, which helps her come to an acceptance with her loss.

The title: “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” states that the speaker could not begin to grieve the loss. The speaker knew it had to end but could not bear to end it on his of her own, thus “Because I could not stop for Death,/ He kindly stopped for me;”(Lines 1-2). Dickinson mentions the speaker’s outfit as a symbolism of unpreparedness. “For only gossamer my gown/ my tippet only tulle,” (15-16). Dickinson’s word choice play a vital role throughout the poem. The term “immortality”(4) signifies that the journey would never end. The speaker is well aware that the journey embarked on was not a round trip. The speaker is taken on a journey filled with many experiences, all which he or she accepts and learns from. This journey illuminated the speaker’s perspective of grieving with the loss of something or someone.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the adjective illuminating can be defined as: “to help to clarify or explain” (Illuminate). Even though the journey was unexpected, it brought enlightenment to the speaker’s perspective of his or her loss. People feel pain when going through a loss, but in “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” the speaker accepts it with ease, “I had put away/ My labor, and my leisure too,/ For his civility”(6-8). The speaker is essentially relieved concerning the loss. He or she is finally able to...
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