What are all the poetic techniques/devices used in the poem "Because I could not stop for death" by Emily Dickinson?

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literaturenerd's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

There are many poetic devices used in Dickinson's poem "Because I could not stop for Death."

First, personification is used. Personification is the giving of non-human/non-living things human characteristics and qualities.In the first line, 'Death' is capitalized. what this means is Dickinson is giving Death a proper name-like a human.The same goes for 'Immortality' at the end of the stanza. Not only is Death named, he/she is given the ability to kindly stop for the speaker. Death cannot be, literally, kind or make the choice to stop for anyone. This is another example of personification.

Alliteration is also used in the poem. Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound within a single line of poetry. This happens in the second, third, fourth, and sixth stanza. The use of the combined words in the lines holding the following pairings denote alliteration: labor/leisure, recess/ring, gazing/grain, setting/sun, gossamer/gown, tippet/tulle, and horses'/ heads.


gpane's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

The poem uses symbolism. If Death is personified as a courtly suitor, the process of dying is figured as a journey (in Death's carriage). Note especially Stanza 3:
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
This stanza, we might say, neatly symbolizes the three main stages of life: childhood, adulthood, and age. The first stage is symbolized, obviously, by the children themselves at the school; the second stage is pictured as a harvest, as life ripens towards full maturity; and finally, there is the reference to the setting sun, which represents the waning of life. The speaker passes all three stages en route to her final stopping-point: the grave.
The use of dashes throughout the poem - a Dickinson trademark - is also an interesting device. It denotes pauses throughout the poem, when perhaps the speaker pauses to silently reflect, and invites the reader to do so as well. The use of the dash can become quite intriguing, leading to a sense of things left unsaid. 

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