Image and Allusion In Because I Could Not Stop For Death
Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” provides a wealth of language that serves to give the reader a deeper and more intricate picture of what is occurring in the poem by utilizing powerful images. The reader may garner a heightened level of understanding about the poem by examining these figures of speech and how they function within the poetry.
In the first two lines of Dickinson’s poem, she uses language that sets the mood of the poem: “Because I could not stop for Death- / He kindly stopped for me” (1-2). By stating it in this manner, the impression is given that Death as a concept or as a character is not an unrelenting and violent force, but rather a kind and patient being, who is doing a service to the soon to be deceased. The word “kindly” is key in providing that insight, as it conveys patience and well as willingness. It does not make Death sound angrily patient, as if He only is because his job requires such, but rather that He is more than happy to be doing this particular service for the subject. This mood is further emphasized and given validity when Dickinson states, “We slowly drove-He knew no haste” (5). Again, Death is shown to be calm and relaxed, not in a rush. Teaming this line with the final line in the poem gives further clairvoyance to why Death may be so willing to plod along and make no haste. “Were toward Eternity-“ (24); The reader is beckoned to understand that a patient and time consuming carriage ride is really not that unreasonable when it is leading towards forever. When examining these two lines together, it certainly makes clear that time is the least of concerns for both the driver and the passenger.
Dickinson goes on to establish a contrast between life and death by providing images that represent both dynamics; “We passed the School, where Children strove” (9). The image of youthful vigor and potential is exemplified here, within this line. Also, it is important to note that the children are at a school, a place that gives the sense of enlightenment, understanding and growth, both in the physical and in the psychological. To counter this and to set up an opposing image Dickinson goes on to state “We passed the Setting Sun-“ (12). Few images in our language and...