Historical Context in Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Historical Context Examples in Because I Could Not Stop for Death:

Text of the Poem 3

"carriage..."   (Text of the Poem)

Notice that the speaker calls Death’s method of transportation a “carriage,” not a “chariot.” Chariot’s are often used in mythology and theology as vehicles of the gods and divinely supported characters. Generally, chariots are used for war, and they connote epic heroes and violence. Since the tone of this poem is reserved and the theme advocates for peacefully accepting death, the title Loomis and Higginson assigned to the poem demonstrates a disconnect between the editors and the author’s intentions.

"THE CHARIOT..."   (Text of the Poem)

After Dickinson died, she instructed her sister Lavinia to burn all of her manuscripts. Unable to destroy Dickinson’s life’s work, Lavinia gave them to Mabel Todd Loomis, a family friend and mistress of their brother Austin. Loomis decided to publish the poems with the help of Dickinson’s poetic mentor Thomas Wentworth Higginson, work that resulted in three volumes of poetry. Higginson and Loomis made serious changes to the punctuation, imagery, and flow of the original poems, as well as adding titles and numbering them. “The Chariot,” Loomis and Higginson’s version of “Because I could not stop for Death,” was published in their 1890 The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Series 1.

"Immortality...."   (Text of the Poem)

This poem was written in 1865, a time when a lady and and her gentleman caller would not have been permitted to travel alone. This role of silent chaperone is personified by Immortality, who accompanies Death and the speaker on their journey.