Saturday, May 5, 2012

Emily Dickinson and Death - Analysis

Emily Dickinson wrote many words on Death ...

First looking at 'Because I could not stop for death' ...

Stanza 1:

Because I could not stop for Death,
too involved with life to worry about Death ... that, of course, is the way to live life

He kindly stopped for me;
Death takes the form of a man ... a very civil man who takes his time to stop what he is doing to pay attention to this person ... how kind ... and what irony in that he 'stops' this person ... perhaps puts a 'stop' to this person

The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality

Death picks-up the person (horse and carriage) on a very individual basis ... Death is very personal ... but there is another entity within the carriage 'Immortality' = unending life ... the question here is - does the person bring 'unending life' or does the very civil Death bring 'unending life' ... and if this is the case a cynic might say this is purely an enticement in a seduction.

Stanza 2:

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
a journey is taking place ... at a slow dignified pace ... the leaving of life ... reminds me a bit of a cortege

And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

Quite simply his civility caused cessation of all labour and leisure ... so labour and leisure had been stopped ... but note that this was done in a very gentleman fashion

Stanza 3:

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;

the goes passed our childhood school days

We passed the fields of gazing grain,
the grain is ripe and ready for harvest and has life for it is gazing at us who are passing ... or should I say waving good-by as we are passing away

We passed the setting sun.
the end of the day the setting sun is ... akin to our ending journey

Stanza 4:

Or rather, he passed us;
note the change of emphasis the environment has life ... the environment is now in the active

The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

now cold and and dark ... the sun has set and the dew is forming ...

gossamer = a fine filmy cobweb, seen on grass and bushes, or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn or a finely spun silken fabric
tippet = a band of silk or the like worn round the neck with the ends hanging down in front.
tulle = a thin silk or nylon net, used in millinery, dressmaking, etc.

gives the impression of disappearing clothing ... and disappearing life ... cold and without any material support ... a lack of comfort

Stanza 5:

We paused before a house that seemed
we stop ... notice the verb is pause ... perhap a permanent pause ... this is the end of the journey ... at least the end in one way

A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

the home is now the grave ... the home is underground and only the roof and cornice visible ... the roof scarely visible indicating that this home is insignificant to the rest of the world ... to life outside

Stanza 6:

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

this is a differnt stanza to the others ... all time subsequent to the intial journey is wrapped up in the new continuing journey ... which only becomes know at this stage (surmised)... the horses' heads moving forever towards eternity ... in a way immortality frozen in time ... feels shorter than a day ... 'feels' an active living verb.

This is a recommended website

... another poem considered ... looking at  I live with him, I see his face’

 Stanza 1:

I live with him, I see his face;
A very personal statement … Death very much part of this person’s life … Death may be imminent

I go no more away
For visitor, or sundown;
The person now seems to entertain Death … and is not distracted by others or by night (sleep)

Death’s single privacy;
Death has a private unobstructed singular life … (within this person)

Stanza 2:

The only one forestalling mine,
Death is the only ‘person’ stopping death

And that by right that he
Presents a claim invisible,
No wedlock granted me.
Death has a rightful claim … an invisible claim … like a marriage (married for life to this person Mr Death) … beyond any traditional marriage

Stanza 3:

I live with him, I hear his voice,
Not only seeing his face but also hearing his voice … Death more prominent

I stand alive today
To witness to the certainty
Of immortality.
Because of this relationship with Death immortality is known

Stanza 4:

Taught me by Time – the lower way,
Conviction every day, -
That life like this is endless,
Ordinary life experience (the lower life) which involves Death has continually given a conviction that life (like this = involving Death) is endless

Be judgement what it may.
… life is endless … independent of any thoughts on judgement … maybe a side comment on the religion of her day and the idea of judgement

Footnote ...
Ted Hughes commented in his introduction to his selection of Emily Dickinson's poems on her 'religion'. Her 'trinity' ... three elements ... Creation, Herself, and Death.

The above text certainly indicates to me that she had a kind of friendly relationship with Mr Death. A little different from the more common view of Mr Death as an enemy.

No comments:

Post a Comment