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"Because I Could Not Stop for Death" and "I Heard a Fly Buzz-When I Died" by Emily Dickinson - the Comparison of the Poems.

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Topics: Death, Life, Afterlife
Two of Emily Dickinson's poems, "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" and "I Heard A Fly Buzz-When I Died", concern one of the issues which are bound to happen in our life: death. However, all similarities end just in here. Although both poems were written less than a year apart by the same author, their ideas about what we can expect after death completely differ from each other. In one, Dickinson suggests that life after death does exist, whereas in the other - she claims that after life -there is nothing more than death . Only several clues in each piece help us to recognise which poem 'believes' in what.

In the part, "Because I Could Not Stop For Death," we are told the story of a woman who has been captured by Death. This is the first sign that this poem 'defends' the statement that something after passing away definitely exist. In most religions, there is a spook who delivers a human soul to somewhere else, usually a heaven, a purgatory or a hell.

In the fifth stanza, Death and the woman pause before "...a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground- The Roof was scarcely visible- The Cornice in the Ground-". Well, the poem does not directly imply it but anyway - it is very likely that this grave belongs to the woman. What is more, it is also possible that her corpse already rests in a coffin below the ground. If this is exactly in this way, then her spirit might be the one who is looking at the 'house.' Spirits or souls usually indicate on the fact that afterlife must be thereafter.

In the sixth and, at the same time, final stanza - the readers are given the proof that "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" 'speaks' in favour of life after death. The woman recalls how it has been "...Centuries- and yet feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads were toward Eternity-". To the heroine of the poem, it has been a few hundred years since Death's visit, but to her, it has felt like no more than a day. As the body cannot live on for hundreds of years, then it must be nothing else than the soul who has realised that so much time has gone by. The final conclusion with the horses refers to the horse-drawn carriage the woman was riding in when she deceased. In those two ultimate lines, the horses appear to be guiding her towards Eternity.

"I Heard A Fly Buzz-When I Died", in turn, makes up the total opposition to "Because I Could Not Stop For Death". In here, there are not many words which convey an unmistakable message that nothing exists after death, but still - they are present. In this poem, a girl lies on her deathbed with the whole family standing all around. They obviously expect that she will die soon.

While the family is waiting for her decease, she herself expects "...the King...". No, this is not going to be Elvis. Instead - this King is some sort of an omnipotent entity - a God. Later as the girl passes away, her eyes (or windows as they are referred to in the poem) fail, then she "...could not see to see-". By saying this, what she seems to mean is that after she had died, she could not see anything - neither an afterlife nor Kings. Her soul drifted off into nothingness, in other words.

As a conclusion, I would say that the beliefs of the two Dickinson poems in regards to life after death vary in a very significant way. In one, such sort of life does exist, in the other it does not. To determine which poem believes in what, one must dig through the clues in each.

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