Summary and theme of the poem Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

This is the summary of the poem " Because I could not stop for Death "written by Emily Dickinson. This is a critical summary with quats. The summary is best for university and college-level students. This is best for graduate students of Punjab University. This one summary can be prepared for all questions about the poem. 


Emily Dickinson (18301886)


Emily Dickinson is an American poetess. She wrote in the latter half of the 19th century. She led an isolated life. Her poetry deals with themes of mortality and immortality. It has been estimated that nearly a third part of the bulk of her poetry concerns the themes of death. In this poem, she promotes the idea of conquering death by accepting it.

In this poem, the poetess points out that death is an inevitable reality. It is very powerful. People are afraid of it. The cares and worries of life make us forget death, but death is bound to come and take us away from this world. Emily Dickinson happens to make a journey to the grave in the carriage of death. The carriage in which the dead body is taken to the grave has only three occupants: the dead, death, and the soul of the departed person. Death is a comfortable companion to her. The carriage of death is moving slowly. She stops all her activities and leisure at the call of death.

The carriage of death passes by familiar places. First, it passes by the school where children are playing during recess. Then it passes Then it passes by the field in which grain is growing and the sun is setting in. her soul has left her body and it travels on towards eternity wrapped in the gossamer-like fog of the chilly evening. The carriage of death reaches before a house that seems to a swelling of the ground. It is going to be its home. Its two companion’s death and soul will go their way towards eternity. Hundreds of human and earthly years pass, but the soul goes on and on the journey of the soul never ends. It seems that the horse’s heads that drive the carriage of death are set in the direction of eternity.

This is a great poem on death because it deals with the theme of death from a spiritual angle. Death is seen not as the end but as the beginning of immortality. For the body, the journey ends at the grave but for the soul, it continues till eternity. The poem is written in a simple style but its language is highly symbolic. The image of the leisurely Drive reflects the passing nature of this life in its various stages. It represents school Life, maturity, and old age, until the final destination. The temporary stay in the world is contrasted with eternity where all time ceases and becomes centuries. The general quality of the poem is very high and it is the work of a sincere and great artist.

The theme of the poem

Because I Could Not Stop for Death is a very beautiful poem by Emily Dickenson who was an American poetess. Like most of her poems, this poem also deals with her feeling and philosophy about death. Generally, death is considered a harsh reality that separates one from one’s loved ones. But Emily believes that if it separates us from our loved ones, it unites us with eternity.

In this poem, the poetess says that she was too busy to spare time for death. But death, like a true lover, came to take her with him. The poetess was so impressed that she gave up all her engagements. She willingly got into the cab with the angel of death. The cab carried only the poetess and the death angel with eternity as their third partner. They passed through different areas which represented different phases of life. The school where the children were busy at games stands for childhood. The fields of ripened corn are a symbol of youth the setting sun signifies the evening, or the last phase, of human life.

Finally, they reached a house that was swelling to the ground. It was in fact the grave of the poetess. The poetess left a strange chill as her dress was made of very thin and delicate fabric. However, the poetess shockingly remarks that though it was a long time ago, she felt it a very short period of time. It means she had achieved the state of eternity that could not be achieved when she was alive.

According to poetess, the death is not the end of life but is beginning of immortality. The poem has symbolized the journey from life to death. The poem has six stanzas of four lines each. It has a particular rhyme scheme. Death and immortality have been personified in the poem. Time has its significance in this world but it becomes timeless beyond their world.

Reference to the context


These lines have been borrowed from the poem Because I could not stop for death written by Emily Dickinson.


It is a beautiful poem on the subject of death. Death has been conceived as a cruel and unkind reality by English poets. She considers death a kind and considerate friend. Death is a great agent to transport her soul from the earthly world to eternity. When death comes to the poetess, she welcomes him and is thankful to him for his arrival. She leaves all worldly pursuits and sits in the carriage which death has brought for her transportation.

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