The Theme of Death in PoemsDeath is a common theme in many poems. It is viewed so differently toeveryone. In the poems, “Because I could not stop for Death,” “First Death inNova Scotia,” and “War is kind” death is presented by each narrator as somethingdifferent.
To one it is a kind gentle stranger while to another it is a coldcruel being. A kind gentleman stranger personifies death in, “Because I could notstop for Death. ” The narrator of the poem is a busy person, with little time,and definitely no time to die. Her carriage driver, which is death, arrives totake her into immortality. Death isn’t hasty, he doesn’t take her quickly.
Hedrives her past things that the narrator had not taken the time to notice in awhile. The narrator watched as he drives her past a school, where children areplaying, and then on they go past fields. She sees the sun go down, and thecarriage driver past the sun, but she realizes they weren’t passing the sun, itwas passing them; time was passing by, past her life. Her life has now past herby, and she is arriving at her final destination, which was her grave, yet shedescribes it as her house. In the end she is looking back, and sees howcenturies have passed, yet she isn’t passing by anymore, and to her this hundredyears seems as no time at all.
Finally she accepts her death, and is able topass into eternity. To her death wasn’t harsh like some see it, but a kindly,gentle soul, taking her for a carriage ride to her final home. A child experiences death much differently than an adult. Childrenaren’t quite able to see death as the sad even that it is. “First Death in NovaScotia” tells of a young boys death, and his cousins view of it. We are shownArthur’s death through the eyes of a child.
The little girl, our narrator,describes the scene of her cousins funeral. Her focus however is not how wemight think that she would perceive it. She describes to us pictures of theRoyal family hanging in the room, and of a stuffed loon that her uncle hadkilled. To me it seems that she sees this event, her cousins death, as anesteemed event, one that the most pristine people are attending. She begins bytelling us of the royals hanging in the room, and end talking of them again. In the last stanza, she mentions the gracious royal couples and how they haveinvited cousin Arthur to be the smallest page in their court.
It is as thoughshe is trying to make this event an honorable one, instead of one of mourning,and sadness as most see it. In the poem, the colors were mentioned frequently,and the little girl many times mentioned how white cousin Arthur was. Shementioned to white, frozen lake of the loon that was a marble topped table. Thecolor of Arthur was also white, like a doll that hadn’t been painted.
Sheplayed a lily in his hand, yet another personification of innocense by the colorof the flower. This defining of the color is symbolic, or the youth andinnocence of Arthur. It represents how he was but a child, and his death wasnot such a sad occasion, but the taking of innocence from one place, to a betterone. Again in this poem death was not personified as evil, but as a gentleremoval of the life and youth of an innocent young boy.
In the poem “War is Kind” the narrator uses sarcasm to display death. He begins in the first stanza, telling a young woman whose lover has been killedin war, how noble his death was. He tell her not to weep because he died inglory. Yet in the second stanza hedescibes the horror of the war, and howuncivilized it really is. He portrays the dying of the many people as in vein,rather than in glory, and honor. The narrator goes back and forth fromglorifying the dying of the soldiers, to telling of its stupidity, and how trulyunhonorable it is.
Death is portrayed as vial in this poem, and is shown to bethat through the use of sarcasm. In these three poems death is personified and viewed as severaldifferent things. One sees it as a kind stranger. In another death is viewedas a cold, occasion, yet almost like a party.
Lastly we see death and dying asa noble thing in a sarcastic tone. The narrator is relaly telling us how horidthe death really is. While death is a common theme of many poems each poet hasa different view of it, and describes it to us uniquily.