It's not so bad...

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Poetry Selections -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

Because I Could Not Stop For Death
Emily Dickinson

I really enjoyed this poem. I realize that poetry is not like math, or science. There is no certain, positive, absolute, answer for the questions that it provokes. I know that people can interperet poetry in many different ways. When I read this poem, ideas went through my mind that dealt with what the text means to me, and what the author is trying to get across. So I understand that I could be wrong, but I'm willing to risk the slight embarassment in order to show how the text affects me personally. I picked out my favorite lines from the poem and added my thoughts.

Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-

When I read this first line, I realized that Dickinson used the word "kindly" and Death in the same thought. This connection is unusual and in a way contradictory. However, from Dickinson's choice of words, I feel that she's really taking the sting away from Death, and making it just another person in which we will all have to face. It's really not that bad.

We slowy drove-He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility-

These lines are very powerful to me. From this, I feel that she is handing over her prized possesions from her life. All that she worked for and all the gain that she recieved from this labor is forgotten, thrown away. It means nothing now that her journey (of life) has ended. She gave it up in exchange for him to be civil, to be humanly and gentle.

We passed the Setting Sun-

Or rather-He passed Us-

From this I feel that she is saying that her life is now over. She has now passed the setting sun. Or, her time only ran out, as every mortal person's time will run out. She is admitting that she has no control over when she is taken from her life.

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Whenever you say that the connection between "death" and the adverb "kindly" is unusual, what do you mean by that? I know a few people who believe in Christ and aren't afraid of death and actually, can not wait until their day comes when they will feel no more pain and will be happy and worryfree. I look at death as a beautiful place however, yes, I will definately miss this Earth but I know that we are going to a place that far better than what our imagination can prove. Do you feel at all the same way or have I lost my mind?

Well Elyse,
What I mean is when I think of something like the grim reaper, I think of death. Now, he is definatly not a kind person, and many people associate death with horror films and things of that nature. So when I say that the word death and kind are there, I feel that Dickinson is trying to get her point across that she, like you, really isn't afraid of death and that it really isn't a scary thing. I feel that she uses that connection to prove her point.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy published on February 7, 2006 11:38 PM.

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