Emily Dickinson’s poems, ?Because I Could Not Stop For Death? and ?IHeard 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 wroteboth poems, their ideas about what lies after death differ. In one, thereappears to be life after death, but in the other there is nothing. A number ofclues in each piece help to determine which poem believes in what. The cluesin ?I heard a Fly buzz-when I died,? point to a disbelief in an afterlife.
In thispoem, a woman is lying in bed with her family or friends standing all aroundwaiting for her to die. While the family is waiting for her to pass on, she iswaiting for ?. . . the King. .Order now
. ? This symbolizes some sort of god that will take heraway. As the woman dies, her eyes, or windows as they are referred to in thepoem, fail and then she ?. . . could not see to see-.
? As she died she saw ?thelight? but then her eyes, or windows, failed and she saw nothing. This is thesuggestion of there being no afterlife. The woman’s soul drifted off intonothingness because there was no afterlife for it to travel to. This is thecomplete opposite belief about afterlife in Dickinson’s other poem, ?BecauseI Could Not Stop for Death. ? In the piece, ?Because I Could Not Stop ForDeath,? Dickinson tells the story of a woman who is being taken away byDeath. The speaker in the poem clearly states that she will not stop for Deathbut that it will have to come and get her.
This is illustrated in the second lineof the poem ?Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped forme. ? ?The Carriage held but just Ourselves-And Immortality. ? The idea ofimmortality is the first indication that this poem believes in an afterlife. In manyreligions, where there is a grim reaper type spirit, this being will deliver aperson’s soul to another place, usually heaven or hell. In the third stanza thespeaker talks of how she and Death passed the school, the ?Fields of GazingGrain-We passed the Setting Sun. ? This stanza is referring to the womanlooking bac on her own life as she is dying.
This would not be possiblewithout an afterlife because if the soul were to simply drift away intonothingness, it wouldn’t be able to reflect it’s lifetime. After this Dickinsonpresents the idea of the coldness of death in saying ?The Dews drewquivering and chill. ? This is when we know for sure that the woman is in factdead. In the fifth stanza, Death and the woman pause before ?. . .
a House thatseemed A Swelling of the Ground- The Roof was scarcely visible- TheCornice in the Ground-. ? Even though the poem does not come out and sayit, it is likely that this grave is the woman’s own. If this is true, then her spiritor soul must be what is looking at the ?house. ? In most religions, the idea ofspirits and souls usually mean that there is an afterlife.
It is not until the sixthand final stanza where the audience gets solid evidence that this poembelieves in an afterlife. The woman recalls how it has been ?. . . Centuries- andyet feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses’ Heads were towardEternity-. ? To the soul, it has been at least a hundred years since Deathvisited her, but to the woman, it has felt like less than a day.
Because a humanbody can’t live for hundreds of years, the soul is who has come to therealization that so much time has passed. The final part with the horses refersto 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 intoan afterlife. Finally, these two poems deal with similar topics however theyare entirely different in that on believes in life after death and the other doesnot. These two poems raise the question in whether or not there is anythingafter death, but that question is left to be answered until our final day onEarth. Poetry