Emily Dickinson is one of the most vital American poets the the nineteenth century. Dickinson take away a unique and artistic technique to she poetry, which deserve to sometimes do its meaning and themes complicated to pin down.

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In this article, we’re walk to provide you a crash course in the poetry of Emily Dickinson by focusing on among her most famed poems, “Because I can not prevent for Death.” We’ll provide you:

An outline of the life and career of Emily DickinsonA thorough “Because I could not stop for Death” summaryA discussion of the “Because I might not prevent for Death” meaningAn explanation of the top three themes and also top 2 poetic devices in the poem

Let’s begin!


Because Dickinson to be so reclusive, over there aren"t countless pictures easily accessible of her. This is just one of the only authenticated photos of Emily Dickinson in existence!

Meet the Author: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Emily Dickinson was born ~ above December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Dickinson grew up in an education family. Her father, Edward Dickinson, was affiliated in state and local politics. He even served in Congress for one term. Dickinson herself was fantastic student. She started writing poetry together a teenager and also corresponding with various other writers come exchange composed drafts and also ideas.

After completing seven years at Amherst Academy, she attend Mount Holyoke mrs Seminary for a year for religious education. It isn’t recognized why she left the school, but some scholars believe that mental illness may have led to her departure. (They likewise think Dickinson’s emotional battles may have actually led to her reclusiveness, too.)

After leaving seminary, Dickinson never joined a details church or denomination. This was a significant rejection of the cultural and spiritual tradition in her small, Puritan hometown. Dickinson’s facility relationship with religion, God, and also Puritan values pops up in she poetry, too.

Dickinson to be a large fan of the metaphysical poets of ten century England—such as john Donne and also George Herbert—and your works affect Dickinson’s poems. Metaphysical city is identified by philosophical exploration and also themes such as love, religion, and also morality. The metaphysical poets often considered these themes v the lens of society and cultural events of your time, such as scientific advancements and modern-day issues. Like these larger poets, Dickinson’s work focuses on nature, mortality, and morbidity.

Like so countless poets, Emily Dickinson was no famous throughout her lifetime. After her death, she friends discovered her arsenal of poems, which she had meticulously organized and assembled in individual pamphlets. The very first volume of her poetry was released in 1890, four years after she death.

Though Dickinson’s influence was not celebrated while she was alive, she now considered one of the specifying poets of her time period. Additionally, “Because I could not stop for Death” is recognized as among Dickinson’s most widely read poems.


Emily Dickinson, “Because I might Not stop for Death” (1890)

“Because I might not protect against for Death” is a lyrical poem through Emily Dickinson. the was first published posthumously in the 1890 collection, Poems: series One. This arsenal was assembled and edited for publishing by Dickinson"s friends, Mabel Loomis Todd and also Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and also it was originally published under the title "The Chariot.”

Because Dickinson herself never ever authorized the publishing of she poetry, the not recognized whether “Because I can not protect against for Death” to be a perfect or unfinished work. But that hasn’t quit it indigenous being extensively read and studied.

Find the complete text of the poem below:

“Because I could Not prevent for Death” through Emily Dickinson

Before we gain into the analysis, it"s worth analysis the complete text the the city again. Here it is:

Because I can not stop for fatality –He kindly quit for me –The Carriage held however just ourself –And Immortality.

We slowly drove – he knew no hasteAnd I had put awayMy labor and also my recreation too,For His Civility –

We passed the School, where youngsters stroveAt Recess – in the Ring –We pass the areas of Gazing serial –We passed the setting Sun –

Or quite – he passed us –The Dews drew quivering and Chill –For just Gossamer, mine Gown –My Tippet – just Tulle –

We paused before a house that seemedA ede of the ground –The Roof was scarcely clearly shows –The Cornice – in the ground –

Since then – "tis centuries – and also yetFeels much shorter than the DayI first surmised the Horses" HeadsWere towards Eternity –


Emily Dickinson spent many of she life in Amherst, Massachusetts. The house where she was born is now home to the Emily Dickinson Museum.

The elevator Behind the Poem

Because Dickinson’s poems were not published until after she pass away, that not completely clear what urged her to compose “Because I could not avoid for Death.” However, scholar have separated Dickinson’s substantial writings up right into three periods: before 1861, 1861-1865, and also after 1865. “Because I can not stop for Death” was written throughout the duration from 1861-1865, Dickinson’s most an innovative period.

This duration is thought to be the time once Dickinson focused on 2 of she poetry’s dominant themes: life and also mortality. together you’ll see once we dig right into the meaning of this poem, “Because I might not prevent for Death” absolutely explores both.

There were likewise things walking on in Dickinson’s an individual life that can aid us recognize what may have motivated her to create this poem. In the 1850s, Dickinson went to Philadelphia and also fell in love v a married minister. Unsurprisingly, the relationship didn’t work-related out, leading to a disappointment in romantic relationship that would specify the rest of Dickinson’s life. She would later on experience an emotional crisis (the details of which are unknown) and also become a recluse.

“Because I could not prevent for Death” portrays the personification the Death, who visits the poem’s speaker and takes she on a carriage ride come the afterlife. End the food of the poem, the speak contemplates scenes of organic cycles of life and also death the she observes during the carriage ride with Death. Some might read the poem as a reaction come the disappointments and solitude the Dickinson experienced throughout her life. Others check out it as illustrating her reconciliation through Christian faith. Regardless, knowing an ext about Dickinson, she life, and also the scenarios that may have informed this city can assist us analysis her work much more accurately.


Now let"s take it a closer look at "Because I might not prevent for Death" and analyze the poem!

“Because I could Not prevent for Death” Analysis, Meaning, and Themes

To aid you know the significance of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, fine break under the overarching meaning with a “Because I might not stop for Death” evaluation next.

But before we do, go earlier and reread the poem. When you have that done, come ago here...and us can acquire started!

“Because I might Not protect against for Death” Meaning

At that is core, this is a poem about death. (Surprise!)

At the start of the poem, Death pertains to fetch the speaker because that a carriage ride. The remainder of the poem mirrors the speaker coming to terms v the change from life right into death.

In fact, the journey into death is what Dickinson yes, really grapples v throughout the poem. Once death picks the speaker up for their carriage ride, they take trip along a nation path that enables the speak to observe youngsters at play and the beauties that nature. Fatality takes a leisurely pace and treats the speaker kindly follow me the way.

These depictions that the speaker’s journey to death expose what death means to the speaker of the poem. The speaker seems to it is in saying that the hardest part about fatality isn’t always the action of dice itself. In fact, castle say that they “could not prevent for Death,” possibly because they were as well busy living!

However, this poem takes a closer look in ~ the process of coming to terms through death...and how fatality is unavoidable. This is a struggle that any reader have the right to relate to, since death is something we will certainly all have to face someday.

By the final stanza that the poem, the speak has accomplished something that we all could hope for together well: they space at tranquility with she life coming to one end. They see a brand-new home increasing up native the earth, through its “Roof” in the ground. In various other words, fatality has bring away the speaker to their grave. However the speak doesn’t see their grave negatively. It’s no a scary place! Instead, the the ar where the speaker come face-to-face through Eternity.

Understanding the overarching article of “Because I can not protect against for Death” can assist us pick out more specific themes that help us understand the city better. Next, fine dig into three essential themes native this poem: the inevitability that death, the connection of life through death, and also the suspicion of the afterlife.

Theme 1: The Inevitability that Death

We currently know the the procedure of dice is main to “Because I can not protect against for Death.” Even more specific 보다 that, though, is the idea that fatality is inevitable.

We have the right to see that the speak is dealing with the inevitability of fatality from the very first stanza. The speak saying that they “could not stop for Death” reflects they had actually not necessarily planned come die--but death came for them anyway.

If we look at the definition of “stopped” in the poem, us can get a much better idea of how the speaker to be feeling about the inevitability that Death’s approach. “Stopped” appears to average “picked up” or “collected” in the context of the poem—at the very least when introduce to death stopping because that the speaker. In various other words, “stopped” doesn’t median that death halted its quest of the speaker to search for another mortal. That actually means the Death is make a protect against to pick her up, comparable to a taxi or bus.

But “stopped” is also used in the very first line of the poem when the speaker claims that she “could not prevent for Death.” So those up with that? The usage of “stop” in the very first line might imply that the speak was too busy living your life to recognize Death’s approach. Instead the the speaker traveling to satisfy Death, fatality came because that them...regardless that the speaker’s initial plans.

The an initial line could additionally be interpreted one more way. Probably the speaker could not avoid for Death because she was as well afraid. (In the way, this can be review a lot prefer Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle right into that good night.” In this reading, the speaker “could no stop” because they to be nervous about what accepting death would be like.

Regardless of exactly how you translate the speaker’s position--whether they were too busy or as well scared come stop--the speaker definitely can’t avoid their pilgrimage with Death. When death stops because that them, they need to go with Death.

While probably too apprehensive or preoccupied to prevent for fatality at first, as soon as she settles into the carriage ride, the speak is put at ease by Death’s civility and the leisurely pace he take away on the journey. The course the speak travels no frantic--there’s no rush! This provides the speaker the moment to reflect on every the beautiful things of life and also consider what’s to come at the end of the journey.

In fact, Dickinson’s speak paints fatality in a favorable light here. Death no the terrifying grim reaping machine who shows up v a sickle and also whisks you away to the afterlife. No one is the pilgrimage with death like a Final destination movie where everything is scary. In fact, death is described as “civil,” or courteous, in heat eight. The journey the the speaker takes to “Eternity” (mentioned in the last heat of the poem) is calm, quiet, and also pensive.

Death no cheery in this poem--but it’s additionally not a terrifying, dreadful process. In this case, Death gives the speak a possibility to reflect top top life from beginning (symbolized by the playing children) every the way to the finish (symbolized through the setup sun).

Theme 2: The connection of Life and also Death

The 2nd theme the we’ll cover right here is the beauty of life. From beginning to end, “Because I could not avoid for Death” portrays how the procedure of dice is actually characterized by the vibrancy and also fullness the life.

Like we talked around earlier, this poem is all about the journey with fatality as a human being transitions native life come Eternity. But the carriage ride isn’t what you can expect! the not complete of sadness, darkness, and...well, dead people.

Instead, the speaker sees a collection of vignettes: of children playing, areas of cultivation grain, and the setting sun. Each of these images represents a step of life. The kids represent the joy and fun the childhood, the grain represents our growth and also productiveness as adults, and the setting sun represents the last years that life.

As the speaker dies, they room able come revisit this peaceful and also joyful moments again. In that way, dying is together much about experiencing life one final time as it is about making it to your final rest.

Theme 3: The hesitation of the Afterlife

The final theme that’s prominent in “Because I can not prevent for Death” is the suspicion of the afterlife. The speaker seems to suggest that, just as much as we can’t control when fatality stops for us, us can’t regulate what happens (or doesn’t happen) in the afterlife.

This template pops up pretty explicitly when the speak mentions Immortality in line four. At the finish of the poem’s very first stanza, the speaker states that Immortality (also personified!) came along because that the carriage ride. Presumably, death picked Immortality up follow me the means to the speaker’s house.

So what space Death and Immortality act riding in the exact same carriage? Well, the city doesn’t actually make that entirely clear. Yet we have the right to make part inferences based on the remainder that the poem!

After the an initial stanza, the speaker doesn’t cite Immortality explicitly again. This can mean that, prefer us, the speaker is unsure around what Immortality is walking to execute at the finish of the carriage ride, which end at the speaker’s grave. Will certainly Immortality leave the speak to rest peacefully in Death? Or will certainly Immortality take over the journey once Death’s obligations end?

The reality is, we just don’t know—and it seems that the speaker no either. It is reinforced by the finish of the poem, where the speaker reflects on guessing that Death’s carriage equines heads to be pointed toward “Eternity.” Readers never ever get photo or explanation the what Eternity’s like. The immortality remains a an enig to the reader...just as it to be for the speak while they were on your journey.

This uncertainty deserve to be frustrating because that readers, however it’s actually type of the point! It’s together if the speaker views the possibility of immortality together something us can develop into our process of coming to terms with the inevitability that death. While fatality is inevitable, the speaker is saying the Immortality, or the afterlife, is unknowable.

Immortality appears to be an idea the we can choose to take in addition to us top top the carriage ride v Death. What Immortality will do as soon as we reach our location isn’t other we deserve to know for sure as soon as we’re alive—but Dickinson is leaving the opportunity of Immortality v the afterlife totally open.

This is periodically read as proof of Dickinson’s reinvigorated Christian faith...or together a throwback to her conservative Calvinist upbringing. But, those factors aside, Immortality is presented together a potential companion come the speaker—a belief or visibility that can provide comfort and also peace together she deals with the inevitability the Death.


Poetic gadgets are devices you can use to analysis a poem. Let"s inspect out 2 that will help you unlock this poem"s meaning.

The height 2 Poetic gadgets in “Because I might Not prevent for Death”

Analyzing poetic gadgets can aid us better understand the an interpretation and themes that a work-related of poetry. Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not avoid for Death” relies on numerous poetic devices, but the most necessary are personification and a volta.


Personification is a poetic device that assigns human qualities to other nonhuman or abstract. because that instance, naming your favorite plant--and talking to it favor it have the right to listen!--is an example of personification in action!

In “Because I might not avoid for Death,” Dickinson provides personification to loan human features to Death and Immortality. Death and Immortality are concepts, not people...but in she poem, Dickinson provides them act like civilization by having actually them journey and/or journey in a carriage.

Through the personification that Death and Immortality, Dickinson presents these really familiar ideas in a means that is likely totally unfamiliar to she readers. As soon as Death and also Immortality concerned mind, we probably don’t run to pictures of a sort carriage driver and also a quiet, stately passenger. By offering Death and Immortality human being qualities, Dickinson help the readers connect with these complex ideas and also makes them an ext approachable.

Personification additionally helps readers ask essential questions around the poem. Why is death driving a carriage and also picking the speaker up? Why is Immortality along for the ride? And, many of all, how have the right to we think about Death and also Immortality in a whole new way by perceiving them an in similar way to person beings? while we might not have precise answers to this questions--just prefer the speaker doesn’t know what to mean from Eternity!--they enable us to critically think about existential ideas in a much more concrete way.

Here’s one example of what us mean. We currently talked around how Dickinson is trying to portray death as much more than something come fear. She’s suggesting that death is a trip that us all need to take, and one that can offer us the opportunity to reflect on our lives and find tranquility in the inevitability the Death. When death is personified, we deserve to see attributes in fatality that may change how us think and feel around it.

And that’s really what personification is every about: creating an effective stories the make large ideas easier to understand. By the finish of the poem, as with the speaker, we see death in a whole brand-new way.


A volta, or a turn, is frequently used by poets to develop a far-ranging shift in the tone and theme that a poem. Put another way: a volta have the right to sometimes rotate a poem on its head and take the in a different or new direction.

Dickinson supplies a volta in “Because I could not stop for Death” to transition the personification of fatality from satisfied to an ext ambiguous.

Before the volta, Death is depicted as a civil and also courteous gentleman. You have the right to see this in the very first two stanzas, or sections, that the poem. After the volta, which wake up in line thirteen of the poem, death takes top top a much more mysterious quality.

Instead of the happy children and fields of grain, the landscape transforms after the volta. The dews quiver and also chill, which to adjust a much more ominous and also melancholy tone. Then fatality takes the speaker to her destination: a home “that appeared / A swelling of the ground.” when this is certainly a metaphorical summary of a grave, it’s additionally something more: the honing in ~ above the unknown. The speaker knows the they’ve been required to their relaxing place, however it’s at least partially hidden. They can’t view what’s next for them, which transforms the poem’s ton from a thoughtful reflectiveness come something an ext mysterious and also enigmatic. This ties right into one that the poem’s major themes: the skepticism of the afterlife.

So, now that we’ve talked around what the volta in this poem does...how deserve to you tell as soon as the volta is happening? In “Because I can not prevent for Death,” friend can discover the volta by paying attention to the language Dickinson uses. line thirteen begins, “Or rather--He passed us.” Those words--”or rather”--signify the the speaker’s thoughts and also feelings are transforming course, or do a turn toward a brand-new idea.

Another means to identify a volta is through alters to the structure of the poem. If you review “Because I might not avoid for Death” out loud, girlfriend might notice that it has a lyrical quality. The rhythmic, almost like a song. This is due to the fact that it complies with a strictly syllabic structure. In ~ the volta, the pattern of valuation in every stanza transforms from 8-6-8-6 come 6-8-8-6.

This might seem choose a tiny change, but you deserve to feel a readjust in the lyrical high quality of the poem when the syllabic sample changes. The like once the beat alters in a song: the song simply feels different! In the poem, the adjust in syllabic pattern helps propel the readjust in the portrayal of fatality forward. And in this case, the volta help us recognize the speaker’s trip through fatality to the immortality in a an ext nuanced way.


What"s Next?

The crucial to examining poetry is making sure you have the appropriate tools at her disposal. That’s wherein our list of poetic devices comes in handy! this will help you understand the techniques poets use in their works...and ultimately aid you understand poems’ meanings and also themes.

If you’re still a little confused around how to analysis a poem, nothing worry. We have actually other expert poetry analyses on ours bsci-ch.org! Why not start with this one ~ above Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle right into that an excellent night”?

Knowing exactly how to analyze poetry is a vital skill you need to master before you take it the AP literary works exam.

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You can learn tons an ext about what to mean from the AP Lit test here.