Because I Had To Write About Death

766 words - 4 pages

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes (BrainyQuote).” Of these two unavoidable aspects of life, death is the still most certain. Many authors use poetry to try and describe death, but Emily Dickinson by far has one of the best poems describing death. In Because I could not stop for Death, Dickinson successfully brings the reader with her on her journey into the afterlife, and she uses a few techniques to make the poem into an amazing, descriptive narrative. What makes Emily Dickinson’s Because I could not stop for Death such a descriptive poem of death is her use of language and symbolism.
First, Emily Dickinson’s use of language captures the reader from beginning to end. In order to understand the context of the story, the reader must pay close attention to the tenses. The poem is in past tense until the final stanza, which implies that Dickinson has been dead for a long time, and she is recounting her journey into the afterlife. This can be proven by her use of the word “centuries (21),” and the fact that she wrote, “we passed the Setting Sun (12).” In Literature, the Setting Sun is a symbol for death, and since it was written in passed tense, her journey can be interpreted as a past event. To further confirm this conclusion, in the last stanza she writes about how she is looking back on it like any individual would reflect on a past event, “Since then-‘tis Centuries-and yet/ Feels shorter than the Day/ I first surmised the Horses’ Heads/ Were toward Eternity (21-24).” By switching to present tense and reflecting on the day of her journey to the afterlife, which is presumably heaven, since she ascended into the sky with Death. Emily Dickinson’s detailed use of language helps make the poem more profound.
Furthermore, Dickinson’s use of symbolism is integrated beautifully within the language of the poem. One literary device that she uses extensively is symbolism. From the first line, Dickinson captivates the reader with her use of symbolism from the first stanza. By stating “Because I could not stop for death (1),” she is implying that although she was not ready for...

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