Analysis of the Poems
The poems “Because I Could not Stop for Death” and “After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes” by Emily Dickinson portray the world of reality through life and death. The author creates a mysterious atmosphere in each poem, and it makes a reader immerse into the events of the storylines. Death is represented as the primary image, which rules the humankind including human thoughts and deeds. Unfortunately, sorrow is an integral part of all people, and there is no accurate medication to stop its existence before death. Thus, the theme of mortality and immortality unites these poems as life and death are too close to each other, and there is no chance to avoid won end.
In the poem “Because I Could not Stop for Death”, Dickinson considers death as one of the protagonists of the entire plot with similar human features and characteristics. The title shows the struggle between the speaker and death, which has an irresistible desire to take away one more life. It means that the protagonist seems to be less powerful than death due to her inability to oppose its physical strength, which dramatically drags her into nothingness. In this case, the reader understands that the narrator desperately tries to survive even if she knows that it makes no sense to act. The lines “Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me / The Carriage held but just Ourselves / And Immortality” demonstrates the superiority of the death, which is capitalized indeed (Because I Could not Stop for Death 1-4). Everything happens too fast, and the victim even does not have enough time to choose any option to remain among alive people. It is evident that death is personified because the speaker indicates it as “He”, which probably means that it resembles a real man, who dares to carry a woman through her native town, which is currently full of life. Perhaps, it is possible to assume that it (he) intends to show the woman that there is life everywhere, but, unfortunately, it is not for her anymore. Moreover, the word “because” hints that the woman may be not alive as she is a ghost now. Consequently, the speaker is entrapped by death, which directs her to another life – life after death.
Death follows the narrator, who has no option to survive. It masters the woman’s body, which does not belong to her because it is time to leave the Earth. The day goes to the end like the life of the protagonist and death races to the darkness that soon merely swallow a miserable woman. The lines “We slowly drove – He knew no haste / And I had put away / My labor and my leisure too / For His Civility” reflect that she has refused from any kind of work (Because I Could not Stop for Death 5-8). The reader may think that death does not hurry, as it (he) knows for sure that the next morning will come soon. Even though it haunters the woman, she experiences no fear to die and accepts a slow death – the death, which is turned into mortality and immortality at the same time. It is the so-called approach, which may compel the reader to focus on the afterlife referred to eternity. Of course, she regrets about everything she sees during her last minutes of life when they pass children and the town. It creates a sad tone of the plot, and nothing is possible to alter. Additionally, the poem consists of six stanzas, and each of them has four lines without particular rhymes.
In contrast to the previous poem, “After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes” gives a slight hope for life and a better future from the very beginning. Even the title reveals that life is ahead despite the fact that death hides somewhere. This poem has only four stanzas with several rhymes, which reinforce the implication of the plot. The structure is quite simple to observe it from line to line with the use of rhymes. For instance, such rhymes as “comes”-“Tombs”, “bore”-“before” give the feeling of the flight, which leads not to death but life. The poem consists of various images, and they help the reader to understand the author’s primary purpose. The words “After great pain, a formal feeling comes – The Nerves sit ceremoniously, like Tombs / The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’/ And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?” explain that every individual needs to fight (After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes1-4). It is important to be ready to cope with numerous obstacles presented during life. In this case, these lines demonstrate that even invisible things may seem to be alive. For example, the word “Nerves” is a personification because it possesses human characteristics; “Tombs” is a simile as it functions to emphasize people’s abilities to feel while experiencing sorrow at a precise moment and a period after it. No one wants to know the meaning of grief as there is no specific treatment to withstand it calmly. There are no people, who have enough strength to oppose their personal emotions in sorrow when the closest person dies. The only thing is to realize that death has come and revealed its power, which is inevitable for all the humans.
Life is rather short due to the fleetness of time, which is, unfortunately, too cruel to all living creatures. The author introduces two different poems as the first speaker is going to die, and the second one has a minor hope. Nevertheless, the primary theme of both poems is the so-called opposition between life and death. The line “After great pain, a formal feeling comes” is one of the most vital in the poem as it represents that life will continue. It also explains that it is necessary to wait for some time to accept somebody’s death. It is quite understandable that the speaker recollects her past as sad memories overwhelm her lonely heart and soul. Besides, the use of such images as nerves, tombs, and heart helps to illustrate the inner state of the woman after the loss of someone. It also emphasizes that pain contributes to the destruction of a personality, as one may not be able to overcome a horrible grief while being in solitude.
In conclusion, the incredible poems “Because I Could not Stop for Death” and “After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes” by Emily Dickinson are two literary artworks, which represent life and death. Mortality and immortality are portrayed in each of the poems in a different way as one narrator dies, and another one remains alive but also experiences the power of death due to the loss of the closest person. Symbolism is a significant element of the poems as it helps the author to create and explain her intentions to illustrate the importance of life and death together. The reality is too cruel, and the author shows that death is behind of every individual. Undoubtedly, nobody will run away from death, as it will reach its victim by all means. Eventually, Emily Dickinson’s poems reveal that life is a gift, which is necessary to value.
Dickinson, Emily. “After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes.” Poetry Foundation. 1999. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.
Dickinson, Emily. “Because I Could not Stop for Death.” Poetry Foundation. 1999. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.