woman in repose floating through the air surrounded by ghosts

Because I could not stop for Death—

by Emily Dickinson

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What three scenes does the carriage pass in stanza 3?

The three scenes the carriage passes in stanza 3 are a school, a field of grain, and the setting sun.

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The carriage that holds Death, Immortality, and the speaker first passes a school and schoolyard. It is recess, and the children are in a "ring." In the second scene the carriage passes, the speaker sees fields of grain. Finally, the carriage passes the setting sun.

The three scenes suggest, as does the speaker, that the carriage is moving very slowly, because children would not be outside for recess when the sun was setting. The scenes, though anchored by concrete imagery—a school, a field of grain, a sunset—all function symbolically, each one representing a different phase of the speaker's life. School and recess represent the learning and carefree fun of childhood, grain the sober productivity of adult years, and sunset the waning powers of old age and death—or perhaps sickness and disease if the speaker has died young. Finally, after the passage by these three scenes, the carriage "pauses" at a "House" that is clearly a grave.

The speaker is detached and distant from the scenes of life she observes, which would be consistent with being dead or having passed to another plane of existence. Nevertheless, she describes death in the only terms she knows, which are domestic. It is this juxtaposition of ordinary detail with the enormity and eeriness of death that gives the poem its power.

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