Because I Could Not Stop for Death- A Reflection


Death is a gentle suitor who takes Emily Dickinson(1830-1886) for a ride in his horse-drawn carriage. A supernatural journey beyond the Grave. Reflecting “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” as a study of poems is a ravishing delight that leaves indelible prick to your soul.

Just as the question she poses to Thomas Wentworth Higginson in 1862, a minister of her time, Emily finds her verse alive in delineating how death overpowers her individuality completely.

Look at her powerful letter given to Higginson below:

Mr Higginson,Photo of Emily.jpg

Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive?

The Mind is so near itself – it cannot see, distinctly – and I have none to ask –

Should you think it breathed – and had you the leisure to tell me, I should feel quick gratitude –

If I make the mistake – that you dared to tell me – would give me sincerer honor – toward you –

I enclose my name – asking you, if you please – Sir – to tell me what is true?

That you will not betray me – it is needless to ask – since Honor is it’s [sic] own pawn –

Her expressions are irresistibly undeniable and bewitchingly forceful that the recipient has no option but to reply to her query positively. Mark here that it is a yardstick employed by the Feminists. Scroll down for a flash of feminism at the bottom.

Her use of the Dash (-) to temporarily pause a point in focus, a sentence or clause, makes the reader take a fleeting breath before continuing. This is simply phenomenal and a thrilling suspense.

Should You Embrace Death?

To keep the discussion rolling on, Dickinson reminds you that it may not be your willingness to confirm when to die or where you die. The word “Because” is an intelligent way to begin her poem. Have an eye-falling session with the opening lines below but wait, not that your eyeball falls out of your socket. Aha!

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

Here, she capitalizes Death to personify it as a gentleman and describes how she is picked up without her own volition and riding away towards a Utopian journey beyond time.

Death the driver controls the Carriage and there’s no other companions but Immortality along. If you read the following stanza you’ll find that Death is so good, polite and mannerly which becomes the binding force of her stoic submission.

They pass the School together, where children strive at recess and play in the ring. They also pass the fields of gazing grain and the setting Sun. Wola! What a mysterious journey!

The dew drops draw quivering and the chill Gossamer becomes her only gown, her tippet or only tulle.

They pause before a House that seemed a swelling of the ground. The roof is scarcely visible and the cornice is found in the Ground.

Since then, she says, it’s been centuries and yet feels shorter than the day she first surmises the Horses’ Heads

were toward Eternity.

The above lines from her poem show that she has totally embraced the incomprehensible experiences offered by Death.

Utter Submission

A glimpse from her Second Stanza shows that she gives up her labor and leisure too because of the modest civility of Death.

She is indeed, ingrained with utter submission which makes you feel that she’s fallen for Death or rather she’s falling in love with it.

You know that utter submission gets transpired only from the energy of lovers, poets and lunatics tilting towards the momentum of absolute consummation.
Why does utter submission happen? You may ask. Well, the only satisfying answer may be referred to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

Whether you like it or not, Emily is now entangled in the likeness of the hyacinth flower to the four humors of Death – Fire, Air, Earth and Water – in this journey.

She gives you the idea that there’s a windfall of overwhelming dominance of Death that you or anyone for that matter, cannot just escape. You cannot shy away from it. No man can defend when it comes just as she is carried away.

Talents & Riches Can’t Save You from Death

Your extraordinary talent in Martial arts just proves trivial from the clutches of it. Your million dollar or your gold rings kept in the chest cannot save you, right?

It’s spontaneous. It’s just unstoppable as you get lost with it when it deems suitable to prey upon you. You may be a rich man or a person of high titles and popularity. Despite those titles, power and money, you become a tiny victim of death and shall go down to the vile dust from whence you sprung out.

For dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return. Genesis 3:19

Emily is a superwoman when it comes to assessing the Power of Death. Her poem, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” deserves a clean and a loud applause.

Relating Emily’s Theme of Death to Kamala Das

Kamala Das also recalls her childhood life with nostalgia by penning down a 16 lined beautiful poem called,”My Grandmother’s House.” Her grandmother’s death brings everything to a close.

In it, she exhibits her childhood life with her grandmother where she once received abundant love and peaceful living than she enjoys in her present life.

As her poem is endowed with simple and yet powerful representation of real life, it has become an enterprising field for scholars to reanalyze and examine it in depth.

Her poem, though short, becomes so prominent in the depiction of two important themes – Love and Death. The poem begins as –

There is a house now far away where once
image of Kamala Das
I received love……. That woman died,

The house withdrew into silence, snakes moved

Among books, I was then too young

To read,

The house looks far away from her present stay. But you should mark here that it doesn’t necessarily mean only the physical distance to take notice of. She also hints on the gap thwarted upon her by Time and its cycle in real life.

Today, she lives a life devoid of that specific love which she once received from her grandmother and that love of specificity is no more in her present life.

There’s absolute lacuna of that love. This is the reason why she keeps searching and begging from the strangers’ doors to receive the same love.

But the bottom line is that, no matter how hard she tries, she comes to know that she’s not going to find the same love she longs for. She’ll be extremely happy even to get a tiny bit of that love if there’s a way. However, she learns that it’s a fond conceit.

Her search, as she understands, will be driven towards a spotlight hanging from the pedestal of Utopia. She comes to realize that it is but the design of Nature.  There’s no better option than to reconcile to the present existence.

Grandmother’s Death As the Finishing Line

The death of her grandmother has such a big impact of painfulness to her bones. Look at the following lines from her poem.

That Woman died,

The house withdrew into silence

Her grandmother faces death bringing everything to a marked silence. Everything seems to have crumbled down. The house was warm and lovable when her granny was alive.

The house that gets electrified with love ceases now with demise of the grandmother. In short, love’s pendulum no longer swings.

How much she’s hurt and in what measurement could she ever get back that love she once enjoyed is understood from the lines below:

I who have lost

My way and beg now at strangers’ doors to

Receive love, at least in small change?

She’ll continue begging in the hope of receiving love that she once received even from the strangers. This decision has a far-fetched implication.

The reason is that no one would like to beg or ask anything from a stranger unless it’s highly required. No one would like to talk to any stranger unless the subject at hand is too compelling to do so.

But then, Kamala Das becomes ever ready to venture into such extremities no matter what it takes! Oh, what a situation!

Her grandmother’s death is not only painful but has become the finishing line for her.

From the above, you come to know a brief contour on the theme of Death from both the two poets. One is how Emily Dickinson treats her theme of death and the other one is that of kamala Das.

The two poets have placed you in different roller coasters to ride. Taking you wherever they drive you along the way. It now comes to your observation that Dickinson’s treatment of Death is Soft and Gentle. Isn’t it?

You get caught up in an aura of softer vivacity reinforced by civility and courtesy. The modesty of Death is so irresistible that leaves you with no choice but to surrender to it completely. You get underpinned with awe and stoical submission.

Additionally, as you flip the scenes one by one framed by Kamala Das, you get shifted to a never give-up search of an ideal love, a lost world which you know might not be proper to hunt for.

Death precedes her search of love. It’s an obstacle that snags her in receiving the love she once received. Death has become an unyielding mold of wall she can never cross over.

Kamala Das blows the bells and whistles of a Lost Love brought about by Death and finds its permanence linked to real life.

Whatever your opinion may lean to, the two poets find a symmetrical pole of the theme of Death and get merged to Elaine Showalter’s Gynocriticism.

But I don’t mean that Emily who shot to fame after appearing topless in the Music Video and riding the horse naked in LOVE Magazine. Ha.ha. LOL.:) This lady defends her image as a Sexy Feminist.


Emily Dickinson and Kamala Das have both contributed profusely to the growth of Gynocritic writing. Their contributions had helped develop new models based on the study of female experience to replace phallocentric models of literary creation.

See more details of the poets’ spangling involvement along the line in comparison with Elaine Showalter and Simone de Beauvoir.

And whether they belong to the second-wave feminism arguing phallic prejudice is left here for you to draw your own conclusion.

Doubtlessly, both of them have left vast volumes of female writings for further investigation.

That being said, you may now divert your attention to have your own blog put up. Blogs can do wonders for you by carrying your voice from edge to edge. A blog brings you fame and a lot of money.

This universe is ever ready to bless you in the way you want it to.

This is your opportunity to start one now. What are you waiting for?


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I hope you have found some value in the reading of this article. If you have any questions or anything to comment, leave them in the comment box.

I will be very happy to connect you to answer your queries.

Once again, I am Phomrong and thanks for reading this article.






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