Metaphor in Because I Could Not Stop for Death
Metaphor Examples in Because I Could Not Stop for Death:
Text of the Poem 4
"[...]..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
In the Loomis Todd and Higginson version of this poem, they omit an entire stanza that describes the speaker’s feeling cold after the carriage passes the sun. The omitted stanza begins “Or rather, he passed us,” inverting the previous line which describes the carriage passing by the setting sun. This image is important as it describes how the speaker and the carriage are now separate from the natural cycle of life. The line implies that the carriage now stands still while the living world passes them by. This inversion foreshadows the pausing of the next line, where the speaker find herself motionless at her final resting place.
"gazing..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
In a continuation of the symbolic imagery, the fields of grain may represent the labor and maturity of adulthood. While readers may expect the word “grazing” to be associated with fields, the speaker subverts these expectations by describing the grain as “gazing.” This choice shifts focus from the active role of playing children to a more passive viewpoint, as the grain calmly gazes at the carriage as it passes by.
"played..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
This stanza may be read as a symbolic allegory for the natural progression of life. The image of playing children demonstrates the carefree activity of youth. The active role of the children deliberately contrasts with the passive role of the speaker, emphasized by the repetition of the past-tense verb “passed.”
"A swelling of the ground..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
The house that is “swelling of the ground” is a metaphor for a gravestone. Referring to this place as a “house” establishes a warm, domestic association with this place: this is not the cold, dark resting place of the dead, but a home that one retires to. This metaphor figures death as a positive experience.