What are some emotions that may strike the reader in the poem "Because I Could Not Stop for Death?"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some striking emotions in Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" are flattery and comfort, calm, and surprise.

Dickinson's poem begins as Death, personified as a gentleman caller, "kindly stopped" for the speaker. She is flattered that this gentleman caller has chosen her and brought a chaperone, named Immortality. At first, the carriage moves slowly and comfortably, but then the speaker and her chaperone seem to rush past children who play at recess, fields of grain, and even the setting sun.

The blithe tone of this poem belies the seriousness of the action: the speaker is being taken to her grave--"A Swelling of the Ground"--and she looks back on her life with rue and anxiety as it has too quickly passed her by.

Since then--'tis Centuries--and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I rist surmised the Horses Heads
Were toward Eternity--

There is also an element of shock and surprise for the speaker that her life has ended so quickly.

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