Dickinson greets death in the first and second stanza as a carriage (hearse) awaits in a respectful manner, taking its time to make the journey to the cemetery. She is then taken through her stages of life in the third stanza as the carriage makes its journey. In the lines “… we passed the school, where children strove at recess… ”, the deceased is reunited with their youthful memories, playing with friends, going to school. The next line “… we passed the fields of gazing grain… symbolize adulthood and maturity as the gazing grain itself is ripe. The following line “… we passed the setting sun… ” suggests Dickinson’s descent into death. As Miss Dickinson continues on her journey to the afterlife she is overcome with a chill. The lines “… the dews grew quivering and chill, for only gossamer my gown, my tippet only tulle… ” highlights the gown she was wearing, which may have been more appropriate for a wedding rather than a funeral. Dickinson describes her grave as a house in the following lines “… e paused before a house that seemed a swelling of the ground… ” which represent a sense of acceptance of her new life. The overall theme of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” is to accept death as part of the life cycle. She encourages the reader to enjoy the time they have, unlike herself who dwelled on her aloneness. Dickinson uses various poetic devices throughout this poem. For instance, Dickinson uses personification to give the reader a sense that death is a polite male.
The carriage ride introduced in lines 3 and 4 are used as a metaphor to the final passage of death. She also uses personification to say that Immortality joins them on the ride, as if he were in the passenger seat and Death was the driver. The sunset was used to foreshadow death. The mood changed after the sunset as dark and chills set over Emily’s body. The house is then used as a metaphor as her final resting place. She allows readers to relate to the idea of death as a comfort by using a house to describe the grave instead of a dark, scary, noisome casket and body.