Poetry Friday: Because I Could Not Stop For Death

Emily DickinsonMy favorite poems are always story poems, but sometimes a poem has such evocative images that even though it doesn’t actually tell a story it almost seems too. Emily Dickinson has a whole bunch of poems like that. She was great at images, but rarely put a narrative to them (and rarely did they need it). One of my favorite of her poems is “Because I Could Not Stop for Death-” because it does have such amazing imagery and creates such vivid pictures.

Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly stopped for me-
The Carriage held but just Ourselves-
And Immortality.

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

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess-in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-
We passed the Setting Sun-

Or rather-He passed Us-
The Dews drew quivering and chill-
For only Gossamer, my Gown-
My Tippet-only Tulle-

We passed before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground-
The Roof was scarcely visible-
The Cornice-in the Ground-

Since then-’tis Centuries-and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses Heads
Were toward Eternity-

I hope that the images in this poem pop out as sharply for you as they do for me! Check out the other great Poetry Friday offerings at the round-up over at A Wrung Spong’s round-up today!

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  1. Kelly Fineman said,

    November 10, 2007 at 10:41 am

    I’ve been wandering around for the past two weeks with “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me” in my ear. Only those 2 lines. It’s because I’ve been working through the Complete Poems, and I’m past this one already, but there’s such a great image in just those two lines (and such great metre), that I haven’t let it go.

  2. TadMack said,

    November 10, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Love this poem, and also love your avatar’s dreamy dress! Princess Pixie!

  3. bluemountain said,

    November 11, 2007 at 7:31 am

    I love Emily Dickinson’s poem.

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