Don’t Fear the Reaper
In poetry, death is one of the most common themes. In both Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” and Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” death plays a part in the poems. While both poems are about death, they also share many differences.
In Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” Death is personified as a friendly gentleman. Because the narrator “could not stop for death,” death “kindly stopped for [the narrator] (“Because” 1-2). The speaker feels no fear when Death picks her up in his carriage, she just sees it as an act of kindness, as she was too busy to find time for him. This is quite ironic because most people believe death to be dreadful, as depicted in Figure 1 in which Death is commandeering a carriage. Death takes the narrator on his carriage, and as the ride progresses, the narrator gets colder until the companions arrives at her graveside. She then realizes that the carriage ride has been going “toward eternity.” The speaker states that it has been “Centuries” since she has died, “yet it feels shorter than [a] day” (21-22). Time loses its meaning for the narrator, and because time is gone, death feels more like immortality.
Figure 1. Skull Carriage with Death. (Luk).
Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is about desiring death and the lack of responsibilities that come with it. The poem starts with the speaker wanting to watch snow fall quietly in some woods. While these woods belong to someone, that person is not present and so will not protest if the speaker trespasses. This scene is depicted in figure 2, in which a man is in woods with his horse. The narrator’s horse believes it to be weird that they are stopping without a farmhouse near. The narrator states that it is “the darkest evening of the year” (“Stopping” 8). This could possibly be referencing depression that the narrator is facing. The speaker describes the woods as “lovely, dark, and deep” but also...