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In Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," the speaker imagines death as a kindly stranger who picks her up for a carriage ride in which they travel past all of her favorite old places in town:
"We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –" (9-12).
Note that Dickinson uses the literary device of anaphora in her repetition of the phrase "we passed" which gives the reader the slow, relaxed cadence of the rocking carriage. As the poem progresses and dusk begins to fall, the speaker begins to feel cold, for she is only wearing thin "gossamer" and "tulle;" the light gauzy quality of the fabric reminds the reader of a spidery web, or thin veil, which is fitting imagery along with Dickinson's deathly procession.
As the carriage once again pauses at the "House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground;" Dickinson's imagery suggests a burial mound, most likely her own, that Death has shown her.
The ghostly poem concludes as the speaker reveals that it has been "Centuries" since her ride with Death began, "yet feels shorter than the day" (21-22). Despite the speaker's ghostly revelation, Dickinson's poem creates a mood that is relaxing and almost comfortable, suggesting that Death's approach may really seem more like a gentle journey into eternity.
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