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Death in Her Eyes: Dickinson's because I Could not Stop for Death

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Do people fear death? Without life, there is no death. It is a reality we can’t escape from. Emily Dickinson seemed to have been afraid of it, yet she embraced it. She addressed this topic in two of her famous poems “I heard a Fly buzz- when I died” and “Because I could not stop for Death”. Both poems have different ideas about the concept of death. Emily Dickinson defines death as eternal.

Dickinson wrote “I heard a Fly buzz- when I died” in 1862. In this poem, the narrator is dying and she discusses the process of death. She says “The Stillness in the Room Was like the Stillness in the Air- Between the heaves of Storm-”. Emily is mentioning that she is waiting for death while in a calm environment. During a storm there is thunder and lightning and once it stops there is calm in the air that picks up again. She explains “ The Eyes around- had wrung them dry-”. There were no more tears left to cry. The people around her were accepting or at peace with her death.

Around 1863 Emily wrote, “Because I could not stop for Death”. The main theme of the poem is that people can’t avoid death. In this poem, she passes by a school and fields of gazing grain. These images show that life goes on even if she is no longer there to view it. She says “I first surmised the Horses’ Heads Were toward Eternity”. Death is like a flower, if not watered or under direct sunlight it dies. New flowers will still grow and life itself continues after death.

Both poems have similarities and differences. The main theme is death but there is a different belief as to what happens after someone dies. In the first poem, the narrator is waiting to die but she is interrupted by a fly and she has moved on to emptiness. She says “And then the Windows failed- and then I could not see to see-”. She did not see anything. Was she saying there is no afterlife? She describes death as slow and something no one is ready or prepared for. In her second poem, she takes a ride from death in a carriage while looking back at her life going forward to a new beginning. She describes ‘The Carriage held but just Ourselves- And Immortality.’ Death is seen as never- ending and she gives a positive outlook. She makes death seem that it is not evil or cruel all the time.

Death can happen at any moment. Emily Dickinson seemed to be fascinated or interested in death. She spent a lot of time in a room and was also shy, quiet and isolated which could have contributed to this theory. She did not come into contact with other people. Everyone has a different experience and view death with different perspectives. Death is inevitable. One must make the most out of the time they have on earth.

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Death In Her Eyes: Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death. (2021, May 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
“Death In Her Eyes: Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death.” GradesFixer, 31 May 2021,
Death In Her Eyes: Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Jun. 2022].
Death In Her Eyes: Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 May 31 [cited 2022 Jun 29]. Available from:
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