Dickinsons` Poems Evaluation Essay

Emily Dickinson’s poems, ?Because I Could Not Stop For Death? and ?I
Heard A Fly Buzz-When I Died,? are both about one of life’s few certainties,
death. However, that is where the similarities end. Although Dickinson wrote
both poems, their ideas about what lies after death differ. In one, there
appears to be life after death, but in the other there is nothing. A number of
clues in each piece help to determine which poem believes in what. The clues
in ?I heard a Fly buzz-when I died,? point to a disbelief in an afterlife. In this
poem, a woman is lying in bed with her family or friends standing all around
waiting for her to die. While the family is waiting for her to pass on, she is
waiting for ?…the King…? This symbolizes some sort of god that will take her
away. As the woman dies, her eyes, or windows as they are referred to in the
poem, fail and then she ?…could not see to see-.? As she died she saw ?the
light? but then her eyes, or windows, failed and she saw nothing. This is the
suggestion of there being no afterlife. The woman’s soul drifted off into
nothingness because there was no afterlife for it to travel to. This is the
complete opposite belief about afterlife in Dickinson’s other poem, ?Because
I Could Not Stop for Death.? In the piece, ?Because I Could Not Stop For
Death,? Dickinson tells the story of a woman who is being taken away by
Death. The speaker in the poem clearly states that she will not stop for Death
but that it will have to come and get her. This is illustrated in the second line
of the poem ?Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for
me.? ?The Carriage held but just Ourselves-And Immortality.? The idea of
immortality is the first indication that this poem believes in an afterlife. In many
religions, where there is a grim reaper type spirit, this being will deliver a
person’s soul to another place, usually heaven or hell. In the third stanza the
speaker talks of how she and Death passed the school, the ?Fields of Gazing
Grain-We passed the Setting Sun.? This stanza is referring to the woman
looking bac on her own life as she is dying. This would not be possible
without an afterlife because if the soul were to simply drift away into
nothingness, it wouldn’t be able to reflect it’s lifetime. After this Dickinson
presents the idea of the coldness of death in saying ?The Dews drew
quivering and chill.? This is when we know for sure that the woman is in fact
dead. In the fifth stanza, Death and the woman pause before ?…a House that
seemed A Swelling of the Ground- The Roof was scarcely visible- The
Cornice in the Ground-.? Even though the poem does not come out and say
it, it is likely that this grave is the woman’s own. If this is true, then her spirit
or soul must be what is looking at the ?house.? In most religions, the idea of
spirits and souls usually mean that there is an afterlife. It is not until the sixth
and final stanza where the audience gets solid evidence that this poem
believes in an afterlife. The woman recalls how it has been ?…Centuries- and
yet feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses’ Heads were toward
Eternity-.? To the soul, it has been at least a hundred years since Death
visited her, but to the woman, it has felt like less than a day. Because a human
body can’t live for hundreds of years, the soul is who has come to the
realization that so much time has passed. The final part with the horses refers
to the horse drawn carriage the woman was riding in when she passed away.

In those two final lines, the horses seem to be leading her into Eternity, or into
an afterlife. Finally, these two poems deal with similar topics however they
are entirely different in that on believes in life after death and the other does
not. These two poems raise the question in whether or not there is anything
after death, but that question is left to be answered until our final day on

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