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One of the fascinating aspects of this poem is the way in which the personification of death actually takes us by surprise by the rather mundane and normal way in which Dickinson imagines death. In this famous poem, death is personified as a kindly driver of a carriage, and the experience of dying is compared to an unexpected trip in this carriage. What is surprising about this is that we normally imagine death to be a frightening, scary experience, and personifications of death as a skull swathed in black carrying a scythe reflect this. Presenting the experience of dying as being like a leisurely ride in a carriage challenges our thoughts and ideas about death. Note in particular the last stanza and how the speaker realises that this ride is taking her towards death:
Since then--'tis Centuries--and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity--
The irony in this passage is that the speaker only now realises that her life has been a journey towards death, and that this realisation has taken her by surprise. Death in this poem then is not presented as something that the speaker is terrified about. Instead, it is presented as an everyday happening and one that is an extrinsic part of life rather than being something so out of the ordinary that it terrifies us.
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