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Emily Dickinsons Death Poems

.. . Spoken from beyond the grave, Because I could not stop for Death Because I could not stop for Death– He kindly stopped for me– The Carriage held but just Ourselves– and Immortality. We slowly drove–He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility– We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess–in the Ring– We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain– We passed the Setting Sun– Or rather–He passed Us– The Dews drew quivering and chill– For only Gossamer, my Gown– My Tippet only Tulle We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground– The Roof was scarcely visible– The Cornice–in the Ground– Since then–‘Tis Centuries–and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses Heads Were toward Eternity– has an imaginary person, not Dickinson who would be looking beyond into death, but content with the routine of the life, looking back from death into the living world which she has disappeared from. She had been too busy to stop her work while she was living so death, kindly stopped, for her.

As she passes the children, the Gazing Grain and finally the setting sun, we see the stages of life, childhood, maturity, and old age, respectively. Not only Death has come for the woman, The Carriage held but just Ourselves and Immortality. Again Emily focuses on the previous world and on mortality and can not see into death and immortality. Dickinson represents death’s finality by stressing the continued presence of objects no longer valuable or meaningless, and on the ceasing of activities that had characterized life. Immobility in death is the best evidence of death’s withdrawal from life because of the respect given to one’s actions during life.

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The cessation of common and routine activities in life are represented as idle hands of the dead in Death sets a Thing significant Death sets a Thing significant The Eye had hurried by Except a perished Creature Entreat us tenderly To ponder little Workmanships In Crayon, or in Wool, With This was last Her fingers did — Industrious until — The Thimble weighed too heavy — The stitches stopped — by themselves — And then ’twas put among the Dust Upon the Closet shelves — A Book I have — a friend gave — Whose Pencil — here and there — Had notched the place that pleased Him — At Rest — His fingers are — Now — when I read — I read not — For interrupting Tears — Obliterate the Etchings Too Costly for Repairs. when Dickinson writes, At Rest – His fingers are. Although these activities are unimportant after death they are of value and evidence of involvement in the living world. Mentioning the, little Workmanships, and other insignificant aspects of life, is Dickinson’s way of representing the pettiness and simplicity of life in contrast to her view of death as a revelation of the conscious, bringing it to a higher level of understanding. She tries to show how after death things become significant that weren’t while you were living, for her this is part of the grieving process. The focus on a mundane creature like a fly in I heard a fly buzz when I died I heard a fly buzz when I died; The stillness round my form Was like the stillness in the air Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry, And breaths were gathering sure For that last onset, when the king Be witnessed in his power. I willed my keepsakes, signed away What portion of me Could make assignable, – and then There interposed a fly, With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz, Between the light and me; And then the windows failed, and then I could not see to see. reminds the reader of the household discomforts and petty irritabilities in life that are irrelevant in death. A fascination with immortality is dominant in many of her poems about death. Her imagination thrust her beyond the living into the mysteries of death and immortality.

She wanted to learn what lay beyond mortality before she experienced it. Through her poems, she was never able to appease her curiosity or answer her endless questions but only to speculate about them. In The spirit lasts – but in what mode The Spirit lasts but in what mode Below, the Body speaks, But as the Spirit furnishes Apart, it never talks The Music in the Violin Does not emerge alone But Arm in Arm with Touch, yet Touch Alone is not a Tune The Spirit lurks within the Sea That makes the Water live, estranged What would the Either be? Does that know now or does it cease That which to this is done, Resuming at a mutual date With every future one? Instinct pursues the Adamant, Exacting the Reply Adversity if it may be, or Wild Prosperity The Rumor’s Gate was shut so tight Before my Mind was sown, Not even a Prognostic’s Push Could make a Dent thereon she analyzes the nature of man’s changed life after death. Dickinson looks at the question, could the soul exist without the body. She concludes that the body and the soul interact to form an identity, and matter is essential to spiritual expression. Beauty, truth and grace are too abstract for the imagination to comprehend for the speaker in the poem so she must direct her questions outside the living only to find Adamant. The poem This world is not conclusion This World is not Conclusion. A Species stands beyond – Invisible, as Music – But positive, as Sound – It beckons, and it baffles – Philosophy – don’t know – And through a Riddle, at the last – Sagacity, must go – To guess it, puzzles scholars – To gain it, Men have borne Contempt of Generations And Crucifixion, shown – Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies – Blushes, if any see- Plucks at a twig of Evidence – And asks a Vane, the way – Much Gesture, from the Pulpit – Strong Hallelujahs roll – Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul – addresses the question of, is immortality possible? Dickinson starts off assure of her belief in immortality but as the poem develops that assurance breaks down and is questioned.

Human thought, intellect, and wisdom is not enough to support the hope of immortality. All.


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