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Because I could not stop for Death — Summary & Analysis
by Emily Dickinson

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"Because I could not stop for death" is one of Emily Dickinson's most celebrated poems and was composed around 1863. In the poem, a female speaker tells the story of how she was visited by "Death"—personified as a "kindly" gentleman—and taken for a ride in his carriage. This ride appears to take the speaker past symbols of the different stages of life, before coming to a halt at what is most likely her own grave—indeed, it seems she herself is already dead. Much of the poem's power comes from its refusal to offer easy or simplistic answers to life's greatest mystery—what happens when people die—and the poem can be read both as the anticipation of a heavenly Christian afterlife and as something altogether more bleak and down-to-earth.

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