Emily Dickinson’s view of death is quite different that that of the modern world. The modern world fears death and describes it as dark, scary, and horrible. However, Emily describes it as something that she welcomes and is not to be feared. She knows that once a person dies, he or she begins another life. Through the poem’s diction, Emily Dickinson’s view of death is shown. Death “knew no haste” and “kindly stopped” for Emily, so Emily “[puts] away [her] labor and leisure” for [Death’s] “civility. ” Death is described as a gentleman, who kindly stops the carriage for Emily. Emily welcomes Death and stops what she is doing to follow and join him. The personification of death shows that Emily thinks highly of death and does not fear or dread it. As the carriage drives slowly, Emily and Death pass a school, where children “strove at Recess-- in the Ring. ” The “Ring” refers to the nursery rhyme called “Ring Around the Rosie” and derives from the Black Plague. The significance of the “Ring” in the poem is that children do not think about death. In fact, they do not even know that the game that they play refers to death. The children also depict the progress of human life. They have just begun their journey while Emily is near the end of her journey. Emily and Death pass “the fields of gazing grain” and “the setting sun” as the “dews drew quivering and chill. ” The grain suggests futurity; that is, it will grow and develop until it dies. It has a future like the children that they passed. The sun passes them as the sun does everyone who is buried. When the sun sets, the world becomes dark. This is a contrast to the light of the previous stanzas in the poem. Also the world becomes damp and cold, which is a contrast to the warmth in the previous stanza. Another thing that Emily and Death see as they ride in the carriage is a “House” that seemed “a swelling of a ground;” they could scarcely see the “roof,” “the cornice in the ground. ” The “house” that they see is a grave. They could barely see the top of it because it is placed deeply in the ground. The significance of the “House” is that a person is placed in a grave after they die. The modern world seems to think that being placed in a grave is the end of their life. However, Emily knows that this is not the end of their life. Their body is placed there, but their soul goes somewhere else. Emily concludes the poem by saying “I first surmised the Horses’ heads were toward Eternity. ” The carriage that Emily and Death were traveling in leads them towards eternity or an afterlife. Emily realizes that a person’s journey is continued after death. This is a hopeful concept that many people in the modern world do not realize. They describe it as a horrible thing that they fear. Emily Dickinson makes death seem passive and easy. She knows that death is a natural part of life and is unstoppable for everybody. She also knows that it is not the end of a soul’s journey. The journey continues into eternity.
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