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Home » , » Write a Critical Appreciation of the poem "Because I Could not Stop for Death "
"Because I Could not Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson was first  published in 1890. In some of her death poems,Emily Dickinson attempts an imaginative construction of her own death: tries, in effect,to catch herself at the very centre of the act of dying. Her ability to find. images, actions and personifications that would transfix death at the very point of striking: this seems an ability that was entirely unique with Emily Dickinson and Discuss about critical appreciation of Because I Could not Stop for Death .

One of the best poems written by her on this theme is "Because I Could not Stop for Death" or "Chariot". The poem seems to rest upon a narrative basis -- that is, involving characters, an episode, a plot-line of sorts-and he narrative. in turn, has certain literary associations. Up to the door, there come riding not one but two callers: observe that the carriage is occupied by both Death and Immortality. Presumably they dally for a little,then presently they ride off with the Lady-poet into the sunset. Death comes as a gentleman, motivated by honourable intentions and concerned only with carrying the Lady to her bridal rooms in Heaven. By the same time,the leisurely pace taken by Death bespeaks consideration for human feelings, both of which seem highly admirable. Above all, Death as lover affixes the part played by Immortality. This silent partner on the drive must be visualized as nothing less than a chaperone. Saying nothing, but always sternly ensconced on a rear seat, Immortality sanctifies the relationship between Death and Lady, keeps the relationship beyond reproach, ensures that the journey into darkness will have a respectable ending, Immortality's function, when we stop to think about it, could hardly be more proper, therefore or more strictly orthodox. But seen from a different angle, Death can no longer be thought of as a kindness: he is someone deprived and malevolent. In the slow, deliberate pacing of his journey, we perhaps glimpse the arrogance of Death, his blind disrespect for human wishes. Certainly the flimsiness of the Lady's apparel- "For only Gossamer, my Gown-/My tippet-Only Tulle-" can only recall us to how vulnerable humankind is when Death attacks. But the greatest change is reserved for immortality, who, in the second reading of "the chariot', abruptly ceases to chaperone, and becomes, instead, party to a wicked Fraud. As Death now violates, so Immortality now betrays. Both have used the demeanour of courtliness in order to deceive, the victim of both is the helpless human  being.
critical appreciation of Because I Could not Stop for Death


Our reaction to the total poem will hinge ultimately upon how we have interpreted these narrative details. Regardless of which vesion seems preferable, the journey itself deserved detailed analyses. As the expedition proceeds, the Lady-Poet is leaving life; it disappears behind her like a receding landscape. Emily Dickinson's style, from the third  through the sixth stanzas, masterfully demonstrates how differing qualities of language can be used to suggest modes of being which are wholly separate from one another. Consider the language in five to twelve. It emphasizes four qualities; light (the sun imagery), warmth and vitality (the children and 'the fields of Gazing Grain'), and incessant motion (drove, strove, the repeated passed). More significantly still,this is a hard and crisply pictorial language: the school yard, the fields. and the sunset are all made to loom up off the page with the exactitude of sharp litle etchings. Commencing with line thirteen, however a change occurs. Here darkness ('the sun is gone') Cold (the Dews drew quivering and chill') and stasis (we paused) become evident. The writing as a whole seems gradually to be overspread by vagueness. Though the individual images in lines nineteen and twenty are still clear enough- "The Roof was scarcely visible -- The Comice-in the Ground--  " the picture into which the images fit remains blurred and indefinite, refuses to come into focus.


Emily Dickinson's aim, of course, is to record the passage from life, where everything is tangible and hence easily apprehended, to the "otherness" of death, a realm in which shapes necessarily become obscure and mysterious and can no longer be readily seen. Partly, she manages the transition by shifting from light to darkness from warmth to cold, from motion to rest. In addition to these rather commonplace techniques, she achieves her effect through juxtaposing a precise and pictorial diction with a language that is left deliberately opaque and fuzzy. This gradual merging of the familiar into the strange, the known into the unimaginable, constitutes one of the supremely great moments in her poetry. But what aside from the grave, is the destination of the chariot? Are the horses pointed beyond anything more than the house in the ground? Emily Dickinson specifically declines to say. The word with which she ends the text is Eternity -- in this context a strikingly ambiguous word, one that can grow meaningful only in the light of But what aside from the grave, is the destination of the chariot? Are the horses pointed beyond anything more than the house in the ground? Emily Dickinson specifically declines to say. The word with which she ends the text is Eternity -- in this context a strikingly ambiguous word, one that can grow meaningful only in the light of our response to the narrative situation. Provided we saw Death as the gallant lover and Immortality as a protector, we will presume that dying itself offered leading her a benefit, to Eternity. Provided we saw Death as seducer and Immortality as his partner in crime, however, we must infer a vastly different outcome, supposing that the Lady was raped of life, and afterward abandoned to the earth and to the void of Eternal nothingness. Between these alternatives, Emily Dickinson pauses indecisively. She first cloaks Death in a form that will provoke two sets of associations: then she leaves open and unresolved the question of which set is really the more applicable to the poem.

Her uncertainty has been vigorously rebuked by Winters. Winters sees the conclusion of the poem as involving a "semi-playful pretence of familiarity with the posthumous experience of etermity", and he declares himself against so hopeless an enterprise. He writes; "In so far as it concentrates on the life that is being left behind, it is wholly successful; in so far as it attempts to experience the death to come, it is fraudulent, however exquisitely, and in this it falls below her finest achievement." And he sums up: "The poem ends in irresolution, in the sense that it ends in a statement that is not offered seriously. It is possible to solve any problem of insoluble experience by retreating a step and defining the boundary at which comprehension ceases, and by then making the necessary moral adjustments to that boundary; this in itself is an experience both final and serious.......". Winter's premises about the poem are inaccurate. It is not really a poem about the topography of the "undiscovered country". It is rather,

Emily Dickinson's legitimate attempt to imagine the death which she knows must come to her and attempt to imagine the death which she knows must come to her and to spell out her responses to this inevitable experience. Furthermore the irresolution in the text does not derive from the fact that we have crossed a "boundary" and are walking where on mortal had the right or the knowledge to tread. Instead, the irresolution comes about because, when Emily Dickinson thinks about her own death when she seeks to judge it morally she can not honestly make up her mind about what her feelings and her attitudes are.

Returning to the poem, we find this psychological ambivalence at every turn. In one sense, the poet is obviously repelled by the prospect of dying. The aversion expresses itself in the idea that Death violates, or in the conception of death as an inexorable journey, or in the stress upon the utter captivity of the human being who travels with Death, but simultaneously with the fears it evokes, the prospect of dying also holds out a definite appeal. This attraction is made manifest not only by the possibility that Death is an ardent lover; the pleasant fellow who brings a pleasing experience. We may glean the attraction as well from other revealing elements of the poem for the air of constant excitement that accompanies the carriage drive, from the lure of the unknown, from the relaxed nature of the writing, its easy, graceful, almost jaunty, tone.


After looking at the poem thematically, now let us try to analyze it to find out the structure of meaning available in it. The first stanza describes the narrator as so engrossed in household activities that she cannot spare time for Death's call. Only this kindness and consideration compel to steal a few minutes for a short ride. Her reluctance hides the harsh reality that she has no choice that her carriage is a hearse, and that the lover's outing is a sombre journey to the grave. Even immortality's presence, openly hinting at the soul's departure from the body and the longer pilgrimage into eternity, is barely acknowledged and quickly forgotten. This idea of a casual trip is expanded in the second stanza with the key phrase "my labour and my leisure". For death actually heightens one's perception of time. The precious, fleeting qualities of life, its mixture of work and joy, are now freshly appreciated. One regrets the loss of pleasures while being glad to forfeit life's terrible pressures and fears. With the reiteration of "Passed' in the third stanza and the increasing awareness of time, the slow journey begins to hasten: "we passed the School, where Children strove /At recess-in the Ring-we passed the fields of arraying grain-we passed the  Setting sun-". As the corpse is physically ceased through the town to the outlying fields, they finally crosses through the temporal time and the mind reviews its past life: Childhood, School passed the fields of arraying grain-we passed the  Setting sun-". As the corpse is physically ceased through the town to the outlying fields, they finally crosses through the temporal time and the mind reviews its past life: Childhood, Schooling, the ripeness of maturity, and finally the darkening red of evening age. Significantly, even the children's world is a mixture of play (Recess) and tensions (Strove), enclosed by the ring society  rules and customs. The physical and spiritual implications of  "we passed" are intensified by the "Grazing Grain" image, which both mocks and parallels the inset corpse. The rich grain gazes indifferently, almost hostility. There can be no such equivalent death in nature, only a laying fellow after the harvest, followed by an eventual spring rebirth. Yet nature's eternal hope echoes the presence and purpose of the other passenger, Immortality. The final image, a traditional comparison of a sunset's declining warmth and brightness to old age, prepares for the final stage of the journey. Stanza four marks a definite transition from the accelerating tone of the country outing. Even the metrical shift from a four-to a three-stress line technically indicates a new mood. The poet corrects her casier statement about passing the sun, for nature controls, not man. With increasing darkness comes a dampness and chill, heightened by the heavy alliteration and sharp। "i" sounds. Now the poet is frighteningly aware of how inadequate her preparations for the journey have been. The sheer wedding gown offers no protection from the cold, and it indicates how completely her sophisticated caller has deccived her with his assurances of a warm and friendly trip. Still, death has further surprises for his alarmed companion. Her bridal chamber is a horrifying combination of an actual mansion and the swelling mound of a graveyard tomb. Here the terror is achieved without any morbid description of mouldering bones and worms so frequently used by Pope. The tenuous bond between life and death is "scarcely visible" as the poet finally perceives her destination. Just as the reader prepares for a gruesome entry into the tomb, the poet reviews the trip from the vantage point of eternity. The sudden change from present reality to the new dimension of limitless time shows  how completely death severs all connections with life. This surprising  shift jars the readers after the beguiling Ieisureliness of the journey, while the conveys the awesome power and impervious majesty of death. The dramatic emphasis placed upon the word "Eternity" highlights the separation between man's limited earthly existence and the expanse of infinity. Paradoxically the word not only conveys the chill finality of death but also indicates that the soul has now ascended into a new state of existence. In fact "Eternity" hints at the possibility of religious immortality, which was faintly suggested in stanza one. The poem masterfully handles the effect of death's unexpected visit upon the victim, viewing her progression from flustered self-pleasure and comfortable anticipation to gradual fear and doubt into a full realization of death's deception and tensions; as a force which heightens one's satisfaction with life; as a lover gently conveying one to hidden pleasures; as a cynical caller who poses beneath a cordial exterior, and finally as a solemn guide leading one to the threshold of immortality. In this poem Emily Dickinson's profound views of death and immortality are rendered with an artistic perfection that very few lyrics surpass.

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