Does the poem directly reveal any emotions or attitudes?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" does directly reveal attitudes in its verse.

In the beginning lines, a gentlemanly carriage driver named "Death" "kindly" stops for Dickinson's speaker: "He kindly stopped for me--"Further, Death drives without haste, and the speaker stops what she is doing out of respect for his attitude of politeness: "For his Civility."

Certainly, the tone of the poem in the beginning is pleasant, even somewhat light-hearted with the courtesies extended between the carriage driver and his rider. These courtesies disguise the significance of the destination to which the carriage driver is taking the speaker. Thus, there is an ironic twist at the end as the driver stops before "A Swelling of the Ground" and the speaker realizes that she is destined for the grave and her seemingly pleasant carriage ride becomes a one-way trip of eternal significance, a trip for which she seems unprepared since she has put aside "labor and leisure" in order to join the carriage driver.

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