Because I Could Not Stop For Death: Emily Dickinson

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Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.

We slowly drove—He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility—

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess—in the Ring
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—
We passed the Setting Sun—

Or rather—He passed Us—
The Dews drew quivering and chill—
For only Gossamer, my Gown—
My Tippet—only Tulle—

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground—
The Roof was scarcely visible—
The Cornice—in the Ground—

Since then—’tis Centuries—and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity—

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886)

Because I Could Not Stop For Death

This poem was published after Emily Dickinson’s death, in 1890. Emily Dickinson talks about the graves as houses, with ‘roofs‘, and Christina Rossetti has ‘A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin‘ in Uphill. The two poets were both born in 1830, and Christina Rossetti died eight years after Emily Dickinson, in 1894. Both wrote several poems about death and I think it highly likely they knew each others’ work.

The illustration is © Delmas Lehman | View Portfolio  via Shutterstock
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About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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