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Class 12 Alternative English Chapter 7 Because I Could Not Stop for Death
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Because I Could Not Stop for Death
POETRY ( Section Two )
TEXTUAL QUESTION & ANSWERS
A. Answer these questions in one or two words.
1. Which country does Emily Dickinson belong to?
Ans: United States of America.
2. What is the ‘House’ referred to in the fourth stanza?
Ans: The grave.
3. What does the word ‘immortality’ mean?
Ans: Eternal life.
4. Where does the carriage stop?
Ans: The carriage stops by a school, fields, and perhaps even the speaker’s own grave.
B. Answer these questions in a few words each.
1. Describe the scenes witnessed by the speaker as she passes by during her carriage ride with Death.
Ans: The poet presents three images: playing school children, fields of grain and the setting sun. They seem to represent the three stages in human life, childhood, maturity and old age. The labour and leisure of the second stanza are made concrete in the in the joyous activity of the children at play. And it is contrasted with the passivity of nature (the gazing grain). The indifference of nature to the death of human beings is highlighted by transferring the final stare in the dead traveller’s eyes to the gazing grain. The setting sun brings in the eternal darkness associated with death.
2. Which words are used to describe Death in the poem?
Ans: In the poem “Because I could not stop for death by Emily Dickinson, death is described using various words and phrases such as immortality, carriage, tippet, school, setting sun, horses’ head, gossamer gown and eternity.
3. What is symbolic about the Carriage in the poem?
Ans: In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, the carriage is a powerful symbol that represents the journey? from life to death and the passage of time. It carries significant symbolic weight in the poem.
Here’s what the carriage symbolizes:
(a) Transition: The carriage symbolizes the transition from life to death. It represents the mode of transport that takes the speaker on her final journey. The carriage becomes a metaphorical vehicle for the passage from the mortal world to the afterlife. It suggests that death is not a sudden event but a gradual transition.
(b) Mortality: The carriage is associated with the concept of mortality. It signifies that death is inevitable and that all individuals must eventually face it. The speaker, unable to “stop for Death,” is taken by surprise, emphasizing the universal nature of mortality.
(c) Invitation: The carriage also implies an invitation from Death. Instead of being a frightening or unwelcome figure, Death is depicted as a courteous gentleman who kindly offers the speaker a ride. The invitation creates a sense of acceptance and resignation towards death, as if it is a natural part of existence.
(d) Time: The carriage’s leisurely pace represents the passage of time. The speaker describes how they pass through various stages of life, such as a school and fields of grain. This symbolizes the progression of time and the journey through different stages of existence.
(e) Finality: The carriage’s ultimate destination is the grave or burial site. It represents the final resting place where the speaker will find eternal rest. This symbolizes the end of earthly life and the beginning of the afterlife.
Overall, the carriage in the poem symbolizes the journey from life to death, the inevitability of mortality, the invitation and acceptance of death, the passage of time, and the finality of the grave. Its presence adds depth to the poem’s exploration of the themes of mortality, the afterlife, and the acceptance of death’s role in the cycle of life.
4. Why does Dickinson describe death as being kind and civil in the poem?
Ans: In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, the speaker personifies Death and presents it as a gentle and courteous companion. By describing Death as kind and civil, Dickinson offers a unique perspective on the inevitable and often feared concept of death. The poem portrays Death as a suitor or a gentleman caller who picks up the speaker in a carriage for a leisurely drive. The imagery used throughout the poem suggests a calm and peaceful journey towards the afterlife. The speaker and Death pass various scenes, including children playing, fields of grain, and a setting sun, symbolizing the stages of life left behind. By describing Death as “kind” and “civil,” Dickinson suggests that it is not something to be feared or resisted but rather a natural and inevitable part of life. The speaker does not fight or resist Death but accepts it as an escort towards eternity. The kind and civil nature of Death implies a gentle transition and the idea that death itself can be comforting and peaceful, rather than a harsh or terrifying experience.
5. What is the role of ‘immortality’ in the poem?
Ans: In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, immortality plays a significant role as a theme and as a contrasting element to the concept of death. While the speaker embarks on a journey towards death, the poem also explores the idea of immortality and its relationship to the human experience.
Throughout the poem, the speaker experiences a progression of scenes that symbolize the stages of life: childhood, maturity, and the end of life. However, despite the speaker’s movement towards death, there is an undercurrent of immortality that is suggested in the text.
The first indication of immortality comes in the opening line, “Because I could not stop for Death.” The word “could” implies that the speaker had a choice but willingly decided not to halt for Death. This implies that the speaker is engaged in a journey beyond the boundaries of mortal existence, perhaps towards an eternal realm.
The imagery in the poem also hints at the idea of immortality. The carriage ride with Death is portrayed as a slow and leisurely journey, with a sense of timelessness. The passing scenes of children playing, the fields of grain, and the setting sun suggest a cyclical nature, possibly representing the eternal cycle of life and death. The use of the phrase “Eternity in a grain of sand” in the third stanza further emphasizes the theme of immortality and the infinite nature of existence.
Furthermore, the final stanza of the poem reveals that the speaker’s journey took place centuries ago, suggesting that the speaker has transcended time and is now in a state of immortality. The line “Since then- ’tis Centuries – and yet/Feels shorter than the Day” implies that the speaker’s perception of time has changed, further reinforcing the idea of an eternal existence.
Overall, immortality serves as a counterpoint to the concept of death in the poem. While the speaker acknowledges the inevitability of death, there is an underlying suggestion of a transcendent realm beyond mortal life. The poem raises questions about the nature of existence and hints at the possibility of an eternal, timeless dimension that exists beyond death’s grasp.
C. Answer these questions briefly in your own words.
1. What is the significance of the ‘Setting Sun’ in the poem?
Ans: The setting sun symbolizes the end of life. The speaker is nearing the end of her journey. What will follow, of course, is night time-or death. That is, the speaker’s sun is setting, and she is leaving her earthly existence.
The symbols in stanza 3 become less and less earthbound as the stanza progresses. The school is a tangible and real location; the fields widen the perspective to indefinite boundaries; and finally the “Setting Sun” exists in the sky, out beyond earthly life altogether. This captures the way that people’s perspectives enlarge as they get older. It also mirrors the speaker’s progress towards the “Eternity” of death.
2. How does Dickinson indicate the impression of the grave?
Ans: In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, the impression of the grave is indicated through various poetic devices and imagery. Dickinson’s language and descriptions evoke a sense of solemnity and finality, creating an impression of the grave and its significance in the context of the poem. One way Dickinson indicates the impression of the grave is through the description of the speaker’s final resting place. In the fourth stanza, the speaker states, “We paused before a House that seemed/A Swelling of the Ground.” This house represents the speaker’s grave or burial site. The use of the word “House” suggests a permanent dwelling place, and the description of it as a “Swelling of the Ground” creates a visual image of the mound or rise in the earth that marks the grave. Additionally, Dickinson employs vivid and evocative imagery throughout the poem to convey the impression of the grave.
In the sixth stanza, she describes the setting sun as “Or rather – He passed Us-/The Dews drew quivering and chill -” This description suggests the fading light of life and the arrival of darkness, which can be associated with the idea of the grave as a place of darkness and finality. In conclusion, Emily Dickinson indicates the impression of the grave through her use of language, imagery, and tone in the poem. Through descriptions of the resting place, evocative imagery, and a reflective tone, Dickinson conveys the gravity and finality associated with the grave, adding depth and meaning to the overall exploration of death and mortality in the poem.
3. What is the main idea of the poem ‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death”?
Ans: The main idea of the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson is the inevitability of death and its transformation of human existence. The poem explores the journey of the speaker with Death as a companion and portrays death as a natural and inescapable part of life.
The central theme of the poem is the acceptance of mortality. The speaker’s inability to “stop for Death” suggests that death is not a choice but a universal experience that all individuals must eventually face. The poem presents death as a gentle and patient guide, emphasizing that it is not to be feared but accepted as an inevitable transition.
Another main idea conveyed in the poem is the passage of time and the cyclical nature of life. As the speaker travels with Death in a carriage, they encounter various scenes representing different stages of life. The children playing, the fields of grain, and the setting sun symbolize birth, growth, and the end of life. Through these images, the poem suggests that life is transient, and death marks the completion of the cycle.
Furthermore, the poem explores the concept of eternity. The use of the word “Eternity” in the third stanza, along with the speaker’s perception of time as feeling shorter than a day, implies the idea that there is a realm beyond mortal existence. This notion of eternity suggests the possibility of an afterlife or a timeless dimension beyond death.
Overall, the main idea of the poem is that death is an inescapable part of human existence, and it should be accepted as a natural transition. The poem explores the themes of mortality, the passage of time, and the potential for an eternal realm. It encourages readers to contemplate the transient nature of life and to approach death with a sense of acceptance and tranquility.
D. Answer these questions in detail.
1. Comment on the significance of the title of the poem ‘Because I could not stop for Death’.
Ans: The title of the poem, “Because I could not stop for Death,” is significant in several ways. It immediately captures the attention of the reader and sets the tone for the exploration of death and mortality within the poem. The title conveys a sense of urgency and inevitability, highlighting the idea that death is an unstoppable force that one cannot evade or avoid.
The use of the word “because” suggests that the speaker had a choice or agency in the matter, but circumstances prevented them from stopping for Death. This implies that the speaker is not willingly embracing death but rather being compelled or guided by it. The title raises questions about the reasons or circumstances that prevented the speaker from stopping. inviting readers to delve into the poem to uncover more about the speaker’s journey.
Additionally, the title emphasizes the personification of Death as a prominent figure in the poem. Death is portrayed not as an abstract concept but as an active participant, pursuing and accompanying the speaker throughout the journey. This personification adds a layer of depth and complexity to the exploration of mortality.
The title also sets up a contrast between the speaker’s perspective and Death’s perception of time. While the speaker could not stop for Death, it is implied that Death does not adhere to the same constraints of time as humans. This contrast is further explored in the poem, as the speaker reflects on the passing of centuries since their journey with Death, highlighting the timeless nature of mortality.
Overall, the title “Because I could not stop for Death” encapsulates the poem’s central themes of inevitability, mortality, and the journey towards death. It captures the reader’s attention and provides a glimpse into the speaker’s perspective and their encounter with Death.
3. How is Death personified in the poem ‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death’?
Ans: In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson, death is personified as a gentle and patient companion who accompanies the speaker on a carriage ride. Through this personification, death is portrayed as a figure with human-like qualities, engaging in a calm and deliberate interaction with the speaker.
Death is depicted as a gentleman caller or suitor who arrives to pick up the speaker for their journey. This personification is evident in lines such as “Because I could not stop for Death-/He kindly stopped for me” and “We slowly drove – He knew no haste.” These lines suggest that death is portrayed as a courteous and considerate figure who takes the time to accommodate the speaker’s journey.
The imagery in the poem supports the personification of death. The speaker describes Death as wearing “a Civility,” emphasizing the civil and polite nature of their interaction. Death is also described as a “kindly” presence, reinforcing the idea of a compassionate and understanding companion.
Furthermore, the personification of death allows for a deeper exploration of mortality. By giving death human-like qualities and presenting it as an active participant in the speaker’s journey, the poem explores the relationship between life and death, as well as the inevitable nature of mortality.
Overall, the personification of death in the poem contributes to the unique perspective on mortality. It presents death as a gentle and patient figure who accompanies the speaker on their journey, challenging conventional perceptions of death as something frightening or hostile. The personification humanizes death, allowing for a more nuanced exploration of the transition from life to death.
ADDITIONAL QUESTION & ANSWERS
A. Very Short Answer Type Question:
1. What is gossamer?
Ans: It is a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn.
2. Who kindly stopped for whom?
Ans: Death, which personified in the poem, stopped for the speaker.
3. What is Tulle?
Ans: It is a delicate thin fabric. it is a light wight, very fine, stidd netting. Tulle is most commonly used for veils, gowns, particularly wedding gowns, and ballet tutus.
4. What does the word ‘Surmised’ mean?
Ans: Surmised means conjectured, guessed.
5. What does the image of the ride in the carriage signify?
Ans: The image of the ride in the carriage has dual significance – it is a journey from life to death, from the physical to the spiritual, from time to timelessness.
5. Why did the speaker put away her labour and leisure?
Ans: The speaker said that Death is not what generally people think. It is not horrible and scary all the time. In the speaker’s case, Death is very gentle, kind and treated her with civility. Now, she is dead and her soul is travelling with Death and Death’s behaviour and treatment has made her forget about the labour, hardship, trouble she felt in life and also the leisure time, the happy time of her life. As she is dead, its her soul that is travelling. it is, now, death and life after deat what matter now. Death’s gentle nature, comfortable behaviour made her forget about the labour and leisure of past life.
6. Why does the poet bring the imagery of school and children?
Ans: The speaker of the poem said that personified Death made her cross a school where children were playing. this imagery suggests that the speaker is recalling her childhood. Death has given her a last chance to revisit her childhood days.
7. What does the field symbolize in the poem?
Ans: “The field of Gazing Grain” is symbolizing in the poem the youth, productive days of the speaker. The speaker, here in the poem, is the representative of human and human life. She is describing her journey from life to death. Death is personified and he is taking het to her final destination. In the rout he makes her revisit her different stages of life and the field of Gazing grain is symbolizing the middle period, the productive age, the youth days of human life.
B. Short Answer Type Question:
1. Why does the poet say that she cannot stop for death?
Ans: The poet wants say that life is dynamic. Everyone is busy in life so much that they do not have a leisure to think about death. People are so busy in life and the works related to life that no one wants to think about death and half for it. Generally the idea of Death is a negative one, that is why people, like the speaker of the poem, do not want to think or have time to think about Death.
2. Why did Dickinson write “Because I could not stop for Death”?
Ans: Emily Dickinson experienced an emotional crisis of an undetermined nature in the early 1860s. She was in a traumatized state of mind which caused her think of death and she composed her suicidal thought in the poem. Dickinson was a reserved kind of person, she was an introvert person in nature and she spent most of her life in seclusion. She separated herself from people and lived a secluded life. Her mental state cause her to write such poem which deals with Death.
3. How Death is personified in the poem?
Ans: Death is personified as a gentleman, a kind and patient person who drives the carriage which lead the speaker of the poem to her final destination. Death is personified as a driver who take the speaker to eternity- her grave. Death comes to the speaker, as she does not have time, as a suitor and take her for a ride. Like a suitor or husband, Death takes the persona to her new house- the grave and also makes her get glimpses of the different stages of her life.
4. Why dis Emily Dickinson become reclusive?
Ans: Some experts speculate that her reclusive behaviour was prompted by social anxiety or other mental disorders, other attribute it to overprotective parents or the deaths of close friends. Dickinson was by nature reserved, introvert person who spent most of her life’s time in seclusion. She was known for her solitude in life.
5. What does the speaker of the poem symbolize in the poem?
Ans: The speaker of the poem “Because I couldn’t stop for Death” is a female persons. She symbolizes humanity. She in the representative of human race, a mortal being with earthly business, emotions, memories etc. The speaker is representing human being who is describing the experience of death and the journey towards eternity. In christian belief also, there is the nation of after life. So the speaker is feeling an ease at her journey with Death who is taking her to her immortality. Generally people are afraid of death, but the speaker has seen death from a philosophical point of view where she believes that there is life after life which is lived by our souls. Soul are immortal and the immortality is attained only after death, and this is a life for eternity. Thus the speaker represent mortality human being, humanity and life.
6. How does the use of the word “Because” set the mood of the poem further?
Ans : The word “Because” is the first word of poem. “Because” is a clever way to begin. It immediately assumes the speaker is giving some sort of an explanation to an argument or to a question. This makes the poem seen active and alive, unlike many other poems, which sometimes take more of an observant position. The poetess wastes no more time warming up in this poem. She immediately lets the reader know that the poem is going to be about death.
C. Long Answer Type Question:
1. What Emily Dickinson wants to say in the poem – Write in your own words.
Ans: “Because I could not stop for Death” is one of Emily Dickinson’s most celebrated poems and was composed around 1863. In the poem a female speaker tells the story of how she was visited by ‘Death’ personified as a “Kindly” gentleman and taken for a ride in his carriage. Here Dickinson deals with the afterlife and the speaker’s travel with the personification of death. The speaker in the poem is too busy to approach death, therefore, death comes in the form of a gentleman to pick her up on a chariot with a relaxed and steady pace which provides ease to the poet.
The speaker represents the human race when she declares that she is too busy to think about death. It has became our primo dial instinct to survive through all the difficulties posed by the community. But death never forgets and comes after those whose time in this realm is over. To the speaker Death is kind and it offers a chariot to take her away. There is a lot of perplexity about the inclusion of “Immortality” in the last line of the first stanza. She wants to say that she is travelling with death, but she is covered by immortality. Almost immediately, though, we have a paradox. Death representative of mortality and the speaker are inside a carriage that also contains immortality, death’s mirror opposite.
The chariot crosses a town where children are seen playing and there are fields with full of grain. The speaker considers death as a wooer who shows civility in his manners. She expresses pleasantness about the steady handling of the chariot by Death. In response, she forgets all her labour and leisure to enjoy the ride. This description of the chariot ride can be interpreted as a smooth passing of the soul after death and the person has left the world without having to struggle too much nor with pain. The carriage ride is symbolic of the author’s departure from life. She is in the carriage with death and immortality. ‘Death’ “Knew no haste” as they drove. He takes her through the course of her life with a slow and patient ride. Immortality rides along, but is silent.
The 3rd stage of the poem, though three various descriptions gives a complete cycle of life. The chariot passes children playing joyfully indicating the innocent childhood, the grazing green attaining fruitfulness indicating manhood and the setting sun dawning light indicating the old age we here one waits for the darkness to take over. They drive “passed the school where the children strove” implying that the author is generously given few moments to remember her childhood. They drive past the “gazing grain” allowing the author to think back upon the prime of her life. Then they pass the setting sun. This symbolizes the author’s ending time. death. The sunset is beautiful and gentle and the passing from life to eternity is portrayed as such. This third stanza suggests the three stages of human life-childhood which is shown in the poem with mention of school, our prime, the youth, embodied by the fertile “gazing grain”, suggesting crops and working for one’s living and them our decline into old age embodied with the setting sun.
The speaker shows uncertainty about the passing of the sun as she feels that they didn’t pass over, but it was the sun who crossed them. This glimpses that the speaker is resting somewhere and it is her soul travelling in the chariot. The realization slowly creeps into the speaker as she feels the chill and understands the way she dresses, which is inappropriate for a pleasant chariot ride and feels as if it is an abrupt gesture. There is a sudden shift in tone in the 4th stanza. Suddenly, now that the sun has set, the author realizes that she is quite cold and she shivers. Then she becomes aware that she is underdressed. Prior to this moment of realization, the speaker felt quite comfortable with Death and immortality.
After all she was riding along with them in only her “Gossamer” and her “Tippet only tulle”, or in other words, in only a sheer nightgown. In the first through third stanzas, the author is on close affectionate terms with Death and Immortality. Describing death as a gentleman suitor who is kind and civil, she shows no shame at being undressed. However, when the sun sets, and the cold damp sets in, she becomes aware of her inappropriate attire. She realizes her new place in the world, and now her death also becomes suddenly very physical, as “The dews drew quivering and chill”, and she explains that her dress in only gossamer, and her “Tippet”, a kind of cape usually made out of fur, Is “Only Tulle”.
After this moment of seeing the coldness of her death, the carriage pauses at her new “House”. The description of the house – “A swelling of the ground” makes it clear that this is no cottage, but instead a grave. Let they only “Pause” at this house, because although it is ostensibly her home, it is really only a resting place as she travels to eternity. The speaker has realized that his suitor, death has seduced her, now they pause before her house of which “The roof was scarcely visible” and the carrice but a mound. The tone becomes one of disappointment, as the author realizes that death is not all she thought it would be. Now, as the sun has set on her life, and she is standing before her new and forever home, disappointment sets in. Death was kind and gentle, like a gentleman suitor. The leeres her in with grandiose premises of eternity. Now that she sees her small, damp, eternal home, she feels cheated. The house she is talking about is a house of the eart that means the tomb. The description of the house makes it clear that it is not a cottage, but, instead a grave. They pause here and from this resting place she travels to eternity.
The final stanza shows a glimpse of this immortality, made most clear in the first two lines, where she says that although it has been centuries since she has died, it feels no longer than a day. It is however – it is the very day of her death, when she saw “The Horses’ Heads” that were pulling her towards this eternity. Death has led her to the tomb – the house under earth and here he has left her in dark, here immortality becomes her occupant that drives along her in the carriage. Time suddenly. loses its meaning, hundreds years feels no different than a day. Because time is gone, the speaker can still feel with relish that moment of realization, that death was not just death, but immortality.
The poem “Because I could not stop for death” deals with heavy subjects such as death, time, eternity, immortality. But emily Dickinson deals with them in a simple manner so that the idea or intention of the poem is clearly visible to the reader. This poem comments on the nature of life. The journey format of the poem mimics the way that life itself is a journey from birth to death – from the arrival of new life to its absence. The observation that the speaker makes along this journey seem to reinforce the idea that life and death are in cyclical balance, in a way, the poem suggests life is not possible without death.
2. How does Dickinson deal with the ideas of Death, immortality and eternity in this poem?
Ans: “Because I could not stop for Death” is one of Emily Dickinson’s most celebrated poems. In the poem, a female speaker tells the story of how she was visited by “Death”- personified as a “Kindly” gentleman and taken her for a ride in his carriage. The ride appears to take her past symbols of the different stages of life, before coming to a half at her “House” which is most likely her own grave.
The poem is an exploration of both the inevitability of death and the uncertainties that surround what happens when people actually die. In the poem, a women takes a ride with a personified “Death” in his carriage, by all likelihood heading towards her place in the afterlife. This poem comments on the nature of life. The journey format of the poem mimics the way that life itself is a journey from birth to death. The speaker says that she is too busy to approach death, therefore, Death comes himself in the form of a gentleman to pick her up on a chariot. She travels with Death alone, everything that related to her life are left behind. She wants to say that in our life, everyone is busy and no one thinks about death, everyone wants to live. But Death waits for no one, Death comes to everyone. When death comes, everyone has to go with it, having everything behind. In the poem, a women takes a ride with death, personified as a gentleman who drives a carriage heading towards her place in the afterlife.
This journey is beyond the speaker’s control. The speaker says death “Kindly stopped” and she is accompanied by “Immortality”. The speaker is quite comfortable with death as if she was waiting for him and she knows that ‘he’ can take her to the ‘eternity’. As we reach at the last part of the poem, we get to know that the speaker is dead, we get to know that the speaker is dead already, or she is travelling towards death. Either way, her death is presented an something natural, strange and inescapable.
We all knew that death is the obvious, ultimate truth, the final point, final goal of human life. Everyone wants to live the life before death meets. But here the speaker is enjoying her death or her journey of death. She sees death as a kind, comfortable thing. She says that there is no rush, no hurry in Death’s carriage. Death makes her realize what she has done in whole life and now she only can look behind at her works that she left. Here, death distances the speaker from the earthly life where there she was engaged in works and she got pleasure, enjoyment. How she is going to get a life where there is no physical work, no earthly pleasure.
Death makes the speaker look at her whole life-the childhood her youth and the adulthood from where she slowly proceeds to the last part of her “Ife like the setting sun. “Death” driving the chariot in a leisurely way making the author realize and recall her life. She is happy because she knows that after this ride, she will get her ultimate point the ‘Immortality’.
In the poem’ Death’ is presented as something of a gentleman, “kindly” stopping his carriage also in the carriage is ‘Immortality”. It is not clear if this is another personified figure a kind of chaperone or something more abstract. But the presence of “Immortality” does speak to one of humanity’s deepest questions what happens to people when they die?
“Immortality” is ambiguous here. Its presence could support the christian ideas of the afterlife which some critics feel runs throughout Dickinson’s poems. or, by contrast, “Immortality” could be some what ironic, hinting at the permanent nothingness that awaits in death. ‘Death’ is inevitable and therefore he does not need to hurry, he is in a “no haste” to make death happen. Because it is an automatic fact of life. In fact, the whole journey has the air of unhurried purpose, as reaching the destination is inevitable and therefore rushing in unnecessary. The carriage stops by a school, fields and perhaps even the speaker’s own grave. These seem to represent different stages of life, starting from childhood and preceding like the journey itself to the inevitable final destination. The poet wants to suggest that this earthly body dies, but the memories one creates throughout his life, never dies. That is why the speaker reminiscents about her young days, youth days and old days. Immortality drive along with her, which may be indicating the immortal memories that the poet is taking with her while going to her final destination.
The poet creates a mysterious environment. The final stanza of the poem is filled with ambiguity and contradiction. The speaker explains that the carriage passed these sights “Centuries” ago but the time feels “Shorter than a day”. In the grand scheme of eternity, hundreds of years might indeed fell like a slip on the radar. Where death meets, there after time looses its sense. After life, there is eternity, no time to kind anyone, no time is there to feel someone as young, old or dead. Life is measured by time, moving through different stages as people age, people sense the story of their lives unfolding as time goe on. But in death, the perception of time indeed, all perception ceases to exist.
By mentioning about immortality, eternity, the speaker indicates the idea of soul, which is even in Indian philosophy, is eternal, immortal. She wants to say, perhaps, that though body dies, the soul is immortal. She feels death comfortable, easy just because she knows that her soul will never die, she will live an eternal life in her soul.
Death is not a beautiful idea to cherish but for the speaker it is kind and calm because she has strong christian belief where there is the idea of afterlife in a very strange one. The poet has correlates Death, eternity and immortality in the poem. Once one dies, he gets another life, the life of soul which is eternal and immortal.
3. In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death”, the poet has deal with the idea of the ‘Cyclical nature of life and Death’- Discuss.
Ans: In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death”, Emily Dickinson depicts a close encounter with death and immortality. She uses personification to portray death and immortality as characters. Her familiarity with death at the beginning of the poem causes the reader to feel at case with the idea of Death. However, as the poem progresses, a sudden shift in tone causes readers to see Death for what it really is cruel and evil.
The poet has written that she is extremely busy in life, she has no time even to die. But death is an inevitable thing. The mortality is the thing what makes a man ‘man’. Death comes and stops by for the speaker and commands her to join for a ride on his carriage. The speaker is suggesting that as she is human, she is bound to die. The poem comments an the nature of life. During the speaker’s journey with the personified ‘Death”, the points that they pass along the way seem charged with significance. The journey format of the poem mimics the way that life itself is a journey from birth to death from the arrival of new life to its absence. The observations that the speaker makes along this journey seems to reinforce the idea that life and death are in cyclical balance, in a way the poem suggests life is not possible without death.
Firstly, though it is not an explicitly stated symbol in the poem, it is important to bear in mind that this is a journey taken with the aid of wheels. The carriage’s wheels are of course, circular, gently hinting at the circular transformation from nothing ness to life then to nothingness once more. While the first two stanzas set up the journey itself, it is from the third onwards that the speaker starts to notice the environment around her as it passes. The first point along the way is a school. “Where children strove at Racess in the Ring”. This image of children playing is important, symbolizing the continuation of life even after the speaker is no longer around to witness it. The verb “Strove” seems to suggest human effort, hinting even in the knowledge of inevitable death. The children are also playing in a “Ring”. The circular nature of which further reflects the cycle of life and death.
Soon after, the travelling party goes by a field. While the sun is setting representing the speaker’s death the “Gazing Grain” seems to be growing strong. This, then is another example of the contribution of life after death. Every year crops are harvested which also represents death, and then are replanted or regrown, enacting the shift from life into death and back again.
Then, in the penultimate stanza, the speaker seams to see her own grave. There is a sense here that the reality of death has arrived that the speaker will no longer be around to witness children playing or crops growing. The speaker is riding in death’s carriage and ‘he’ is crossing these sights and places which give her glimpses of her past life. The speaker will be gone but everything else will carry on as before. Perhaps her death even makes way for the continuation of life in her absence for new children to “Strive”, just as harvested grain makes way for new crops.
Subtly the poem suggests an interdependence between life and death. Both seem like necessary parts of the world. But the relationship between life and Death is by its nature perplexing and intriguing. We see that the speaker is already dead and is in her after life. When she says that she is driving along with immortality, we see that she has attained it. That is why the speaker is so calm throughout the poem. She is new in eternal peace, living behind all the labour, pain, happiness of earthly life. She is not in the world, but everything will be going on as usual. This is natural.
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