OtherPapers.com - Other Term Papers and Free Essays

Comparison of Two Death-Themed Poems

Essay by   •  September 22, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,457 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,493 Views

Essay Preview: Comparison of Two Death-Themed Poems

Report this essay
Page 1 of 6

Death can be interpreted in a variety of ways; it may be displayed as either virtuous or wicked. The subject of death is often used and portrayed differently throughout poetry. Poets use diverse techniques as well as various poetic devices to bring about the message of death. Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" and Claude Mckay's "If We Must Die" both are based on the subject of death, however differ in themes and messages about death. Major differences between the two poems are how the speakers approach the subject of death and the tone that's exhibited in the work. This supports the inference that death may be understood in several ways.

In Emily Dickinson's poem, she describes her journey with Death, and in doing this she personifies death in order to make it appear more dominating. In the first stanza, the speaker is too busy for death, so Death takes time to stop for her. It "kindly" stops for her, emphasizing the fact that death is not intimidating, only a gentle guide. When Death picks her up and places her in its carriage, she ironically sees it as an act of benevolence. Death in a way is made out to seem polite because it took the time to stop for her when she wasn't able to. According to these lines, "And I had put away my labor, and my leisure too, for his civility", it is this kindness and "civility" that made it easy for the speaker to easily give up on her life and leave it in the hands of death. The next stanza displays life as not being so great. As her and Death passed the school on the carriage, she sees "children strove at recess, in the ring." The use of the word "strove" stresses the labors of existence. In a way this is filling her with gratitude because she is no longer living. She then shifts into saying "We passed the setting sun, or rather, he passed us". Here she personifies the sun and in effect she also carves herself out of the picture. She corrects herself by saying that he passed them because she is no longer alive, only a part of the picture. In the next stanza, death becomes more cold and sinister as she explains that, "the dews grew quivering a chill". She describes her dress as not being thick enough to shield her from the cold. The gown she wears symbolizes her wedding dress as she is getting married to Death. Furthermore as she sees the coldness of death, in the next stanza the carriage pauses at her new home which is the grave; "A swelling of the ground" makes it evident that it is a grave. Seeing as she called her grave home, it shows how comfortable she is with death. It only pauses here to make it clear that it is only a place to rest as she travels. In the last stanza she finally reaches immortality which was her goal. Here, time loses its meaning as centuries feel like a day. The speaker realizes that death also means immortality, ending the poem with eternity. Immortality has been riding with her all along as said in the first stanza. In her poem she compares death to nothing more than a marriage. Her fiancé, Death, picks her up in his carriage to start their long "life" together (immortality). The tone of the speaker is accepting, humble and composed. She seems to be happy in the place she is as she is telling the readers about her journey. This makes death seem as not such a bad thing. This poem may even seem as reassuring to people on their deathbeds. The rhyme scheme is irregular, lending "further weight to the romantic personification of Death".

In Claude McKay's poem, he highlights that life is worth living despite its many hardships. He advocates the fighting against death and that if one must die, it should be with honor. To gain that honor, one must be willing to put up a battle. As indicated by the first line of the poem, "If



Download as:   txt (7.4 Kb)   pdf (94.5 Kb)   docx (11.3 Kb)  
Continue for 5 more pages »
Only available on OtherPapers.com
Citation Generator

(2012, 09). Comparison of Two Death-Themed Poems. OtherPapers.com. Retrieved 09, 2012, from https://www.otherpapers.com/essay/Comparison-of-Two-Death-Themed-Poems/33972.html

"Comparison of Two Death-Themed Poems" OtherPapers.com. 09 2012. 2012. 09 2012 <https://www.otherpapers.com/essay/Comparison-of-Two-Death-Themed-Poems/33972.html>.

"Comparison of Two Death-Themed Poems." OtherPapers.com. OtherPapers.com, 09 2012. Web. 09 2012. <https://www.otherpapers.com/essay/Comparison-of-Two-Death-Themed-Poems/33972.html>.

"Comparison of Two Death-Themed Poems." OtherPapers.com. 09, 2012. Accessed 09, 2012. https://www.otherpapers.com/essay/Comparison-of-Two-Death-Themed-Poems/33972.html.