Abstract:Analyzes the poem `Because I Could Not Stop for Death,' by Emily Dickinson. The us。e of remembered images of the pa。st to clarify infinite c。onceptions through the establishment of a dialectical relationship between reality and imagination, the known and t。he unknown; The viewpoint of etern。ity; Understanding of the incomprehensible; The stages of existence.
DICKINSON'S BECAUSE I COUL。D NOT STOP FOR DEATH
I。n "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" (J712。), Emily Dickinson。 uses reme。mbered i。mages of the past to clarify infinite conceptions。 through the。 establishment of a。 dialectical relationship between reality and ima。gination, the known and the unknown. By viewi。ng this relationship holistically and hier。archically ordering the stages of life t。o include death and eternity, Dickinson suggests the interconnected and mutually determined nature of the finite and infinite. From the viewpoint of eternity, the speak。er recalls experiences that happened on earth cen。tu。ries ago. In he。r recollection, she attempts to identify the eternal world by its relationship to。 temporal standa。rds, as she states that "Centuries" (21) in eternity are "s。hort。er than the [earthly] day" (22). Likewise, by anthropomorphizing Death as a kind and civil gentleman, the speaker particularizes Death's characteristics with favorable connotations.  Similarly, the finite and infinite are amalgamated in the fourth stanza:
The Dews drew quivering and chill-- For only Gossamer, m。y Gown--My Tippett--only Tulle--(14-16)
In these lines the speaker's temporal existence, which allows her to quiver as she is chilled by the "Dew," merges with the spiritual universe, as the speake。r is attired in a "。Gown" and cape or "Tippet," made respectively of "Gossamer," a cobweb, and "Tulle," a kind of thin, open net-temporal coverings that suggest transparent, spiritual qualiti。es.
Un。derstanding the in。comprehensible often depends on an appreciation of the progression of the stages of existence. By。 recalling specific stages of life on earth, the speaker not only settles her temporal past but also。 views these happenings from a higher awareness, both literally and figuratively. In a。 literal sense, for example, as the carriage gains al。titude to make its heavenly approach, a house seems as "A Swelling of。 the Ground" (18). Figuratively the poem may symbolize the thr。ee stages of life: "School, where Children strove" (9) may represent childhood; "Fields of Gazing Grain" (11), maturity; and "。S。etting Sun" (12) old age. Vi。ewing the progression of these stages-。life, to death, to eternity-as a continuum invests these isolated, often。 incomprehensible events with meanin。g. From her e。ternal perspective, the speaker comprehends that life, like the "Horses Heads" (23), leads "toward Etern。ity" (2。4).
Through her boundless ama。lgamation and progressiv。e ordering of the temporal world with the spiritual universe, Dickinson dialectically shapes meaning from the limitations of life, allowing the reader mom。entarily。 to glimpse a universe in whi。ch the seemingly distinct and discontinuous s。tages of existence are holistically implica。ted and purposed.
[1.] Others who have written o。n Emily Dickinson's responses to death include Ruth Miller (The Poetry of Emily Dickinson [Middletown, Conn.: Wesl。eyan U P, 1968]); Robert Weisbuch Emily Dickinson。's Poetry [Chicago, 111.: U of Chicago P, 1975]); Carol Anne Taylor ("Kierkegaard and the Iron。ic Voices of E。mily Dickinson ," Journal of English and German Philology 77 : 569-81); Charl。es Anderson ( Emily Dickinson's Poetry: Stairway of Surprise [N。ew York: Holt, Reinhart, 19。60]); Sharon Cameron (Ly。ric Time (Baltimore: John Hopkins U P, 1979]);。 Brita Lindberg-Seyersted (The Voice of the Poet: Aspects of Style in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson [Cambridge: Harvard U P, 1968]).
[2.] The theoretical foundation for aspects of this ar。gument rests in part on th。e philosophies of such me
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