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Poetry Essay “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” and “Death be not proud”

The two poems ” Because I Could Not Stop for Death” and ” Death be not proud” both look at the subject of death. Poem 1 Death is not proud written by John Donne looks at death by using personification. Poem 2 Because I Could Not Stop For Death written by Emily Dickinson looks at death through using a metaphor of a journey.

The poem” Because I Could Not Stop for Death” is about death and death being arrogant with its power, immediately makes the reader stop and think about what the poem could possibly be about. Poem 1 begins by using repetition of the title to emphasize that death should not be proud of its actions. The second line builds on this by switching the mood completely; making death look friendly and welcoming by saying ” he kindly stopped for me ” this might make the reader think that death is not bad after all.

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In the third line the poet uses a metaphor when he says the words carriage this might imply it is a coffin also it might imply death is not such a nice character, after all, he is more like our perception of the grim reaper which adds to the tension in the poem making the reader think is death evil or a kind gentle figure. In the final line of this verse, the writer uses the word “Immortality” which sounds like a promise of everlasting life, which gives the feeling of hope.

The writer starts the second verse by saying ” he knew no haste” which might imply that they are on a journey to death and death creeps up slowly on everyone which is followed up by the mood changing to a feeling of angriness because the person had given up their time to go on a journey only to find the driver had no haste which is continued on the next line when the writer says ” put away” which may suggest death e.g. put away in a box which carries on the idea of the poem of death. In the next verse, the writer uses alliteration when he repeats the word we passed, to show as time passes by we reach closer and closer to death.

On the following line, there is the alliteration of the letter L which is a soft letter, which you normally associate with good times and love etc, not with the theme of this poem, which is death. In the next verse “We passed” is repeated to show that they are only observers on the journey, also that the fact that we can only watch life go by as death creeps up slowly on all of us. With the use of ” Gazing Grains” it could be trying to use them as the seasons and time passing by in someone’s life.

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In the next verse, the writer says ” Or rather he passed us” which suggests death is outside of time and can control what is going on which gives him power over everything if death could control time. Also in this verse, you get an image of hope when the writer mentions weddings which is meant to be a time of joy and happiness, unlike a funeral which is a time of mourning, which is an oxymoron because it is two contrasting images.

In the penultimate verse, there is the repetition of the word ” ground” which emphasizes when you are buried, which gives a mood of sadness, also the word stopped suggests a temporary stop in proceedings, which once again gives death control in the proceedings and refers back to an earlier line, which suggests death was outside the loop of time.

In the final verse the time them by saying ” tis centuries” which gives a feeling of timelessness which is death because when you are dead you have time to do anything, also the word nearly suggests the journey is not quite over and there’s more to come.

The structure of the poem is six stanzas each containing for lines. The syntax of the poem is arranged with a caesura. There, is a regular rhyme scheme. This rhythm of the poem is slow and steady so you can take in every word such as ” Since then-`tis centuries – and yet”. This is effective because it makes you think death is inevitable.

The poet uses language effectively in the poem Because I Could Not Stop For Death by using literary devices such as caesura, metaphor and personification. One example of personification is “Because I could not stop for death” This effective because it can give you an idea of what type of figure death is. Another poetic devices used are enjambment. This is effective because it makes the poem flow easily.

The voice of the poem is the passenger on the journey. This is shown by the journey through time as though the passenger is commentating on it this is shown by the quote “He kindly stopped for me”, the mood of the poem begins as though death is a kind figure this is exaggerated through the use of adjectives such as ” kindly stopped for me” this adds to the descriptive nature of the poem so you can get more of a feel for the setting and type of person.

The message of the poem is that death is one of life’s inevitable processes, which happens to all of us, which may make the reader think about life and live it to the full. The poem is effective because it makes you think twice about life and make you want to live it to the full, it makes you realize that death is going to happen to everyone.

Poem 2, ” Death Be Not Proud”, Online 1 the writer uses the word ” proud” which could also be portrayed as arrogance because death is already proud of its actions when it shouldn’t be. In the following line the words ” mighty and dreadful” can be seen as forceful words portraying death as this all-powerful character but later on, in the poem, we find out that he is not and can be beaten. This is continued on line 3 when the whole line emphasizes the fact that death can be beaten because it is one of life’s processes

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Then the mood changes completely by making you feel sorry for death by saying ” Poorest Death” and the power changes hands but it is not death that fears us, it should be us fearing death because we have to go sometime or another. On lines 5 and 6 the writer uses the renaissance view on death by likening death to sleep and using it as an image of death, which once again sleep is one of life’s processes, just the same as death.

Line 7 again emphasis that death is inevitable ” our best men with thee doe go” which shows that everyone will die, even the greatest of men but this is completely turned on its head later on in the poem.

In line 8 the writer tries to say that only the bones rest but the souls live forever when the writer says, ” Rest of their bones, and souls delivery” which adds to the idea of heaven and everlasting life. Line 9 completely turns the poem on its head by showing death can be beaten by ” desperate men” e.g. suicide which takes the control away from death because they can take their life whenever they want and death loses power, also the loss of control is emphasized by saying ” Thou art slave to fare, chance, kings and desperate men” because it implies that death is now the slave and has no control. In line 11 there is a suggestion of drugs with the use of the word poppy because poppies are used in common drugs which readers to earlier in the poem

Because drugs can be used for suicide and build on the suspense making the reader think who actually has the power.

Line 12 suggests suicide is better than death and getting taken by death (The grim reaper) himself this is emphasized when the writer says ” Death thou shalt die” which shows that death will die when you die because he will have nobody else to scare and then he will be beaten. Lines 13 and 14 keep up with the Christian theory of resurrection and salvation by saying ” wee wake eternally” which gives a feeling of hope.

The poet uses language effectively in the poem by using enjambment to create rhythm e.g. “die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill mee;

It contains 14 lines which is a sonnet which is the syntax of the poem which with enjambment makes the poem flow easily regular rhyme scheme makes the reader read quicker in some parts and read slower in others, the argument for control also makes the reader think and adds to the tension.

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The voice of the poem is someone challenging the theory of death, this is shown through the whole poem by challenging death and showing it can be beaten especially when it speaks about suicide and ” desperate men”. The message of the poem is that death should not be proud of his actions and that it can be beaten, which proves there’s a chance for everyone when it says, ” death shalt be no more, Death thou shalt die”.

The poem is effective because it shows the ways death can be beaten for instance suicide, which takes away the control from death. Also, the control fight keeps the reader reading because it adds tension and action.

The two poems can be compared with each other as they both use the theory of death but they are contrasting views, one is just along for the ride and one is actually challenging death. Both poems use personification this is effective because it gives u an insight into the way you think death would look. Both poems use olden day language, which proves the changes in the theories of death from then and now because back then death was a big worry but now death is not such a worry because we know it is inevitable.

Also one is a journey and one is a challenging view towards death this is shown in poem 1 (the journey) when they are in the carriage watching everything go by and in Poem 2 it is shown by the uses of challenging and harsh language and when it says ” death shall be no more”.

The most effective poem is Because I could not stop for death it shows us death is inevitable, this is because it used lots of literary devices such as personification, enjambment and metaphors some examples of these are for personification ” because I could not stop for death” for enjambment ” We slowly drove – he knew no haste” and for metaphors ” swelling of the ground”. Also, it makes the most sense and gives the clearest and concise image

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Poetry Essay "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" and "Death be not proud". (2021, Sep 24). Retrieved October 2, 2022, from