Briefly paraphrase the poem "Because I could not stop for Death."

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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It is actually really fun to paraphrase Emily Dickinson's poetry. A paraphrase, of course, is simply putting a work of literature in your own words. Because this poem is full of metaphors, it's not too easy, however I am happy to attempt it for you. Unsurprisingly, this particular Dickinson poem is about death. Let us take each stanza in turn, using quotations to aid us.

Because I could not stop for Death

He kindly stopped for me

The Carriage held but just Ourselves

          And Immortality.

Because I was so busy, I didn't have time to die. Death stopped for me anyway. Death took me away in a carriage. I took nothing with me except my soul and eternal life.

We slowly drove

He knew no haste And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility

The carriage with death and myself drove on slowly. There was no reason to drive quickly because I no longer did work or had relaxation in order to be kind to Death.

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess in the Ring

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain

We passed the Setting Sun

In the carriage, Death and I passed a school where children were playing at recess. The kids were playing "Ring Around the Rosy" (ironically a poem about death). Then we passed wheat fields on the earth and passed the sun while it was setting, beyond the earth.

Or rather – He passed us

The Dews drew quivering and chill

For only Gossamer, my Gown

My Tippet – only Tulle

My mistake. The sun paused us on the road. It turned colder and even the dew droplets were cold. I was cold too because my dress was made of a very thin material, same with my slip. It was only made of tulle.

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground

The Roof was scarcely visible

The Cornice – in the Ground

We stopped right in front of a house that looked like a grave because it was just a small mound of earth.you could hardly see the roof of this house, and the bottom of the house was actually under the ground level.

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses' Heads

Were toward Eternity – 

It has been centuries since that day, therefore, I have been dead for many years.  However, all of those centuries feel shorter than the first day I learned about death and what it would mean. On that day I figured out that horses heads were always turned toward eternity and immortality and death. In other words, that was the day I learned about the end of my life and the transportation in this death carriage.

As you can see, what precedes the conclusion here is the paraphrase of Emily Dickinson's very famous poem. You can tell the theme is definitely death.

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