Critical Summary of Because I could not Stop for Death
Death has been a popular subject of almost all the literatures of the world. Death is bitter reality. But the manner in which the poetess has presented it is very different. She has presented death as a friend and a lover who rescues her from this world. She says that she had forgotten death but "he kindly stopped" for her. She, too, left her
"labor and her leisure... for his civility".
She tells in detail the incidents from coffin to the grave. Her style is so fascinating that we do not feel bitterness and pain of death even for a moment. Yet the ending of the poem is very serious. It reveals the reality of death; it is an eternal life. It is strange and unknown.
The minute details and realistic presentation of the actual burial taking place within the poem is really fantastic and smooth. The poetess has presented it as if death is not an enemy; it is a friend that would always be on time to rescue us from the pangs and pains of this world. The bitterness of death may be felt with words like "dews", "chill", "quivering" etc. but the easy flow of the poem makes death feel not more than a casual routine of life which it actually is.
An even minute studying would reveal the real sensation death for the "Gossamar my gown" would not be capable of stopping the chill. It punctures the truth of human existence which is no more than soil and being soiled; therefore, the poetess rightly addresses the death as a kind friend and a lover which takes humans to the final path of transformation so that one may attain eternity.
Soon the poetess' coffin reached the house whose "roof was scarcely visible"; this was the grave of the poetess. The poetess is to stay in her grave for ever waiting for her reward because she led a positive and noble life. She wishes to communicate that a pious and life of nobility would make death a peaceful and calming experience of transformation though it does involve the dissolution of human body and its transformation into another being or transmission to another world.