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Tone in Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Tone Examples in Because I Could Not Stop for Death:

Text of the Poem

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"My labor,..."   (Text of the Poem)

This line suggests that life is primarily constituted of work and play, or “labor” and “leisure.” Arriving at death, we set aside both. This duality prefigures the following stanza, whose imagery is tense with life’s balance of labor and leisure: children playing, having just finished their schoolwork; the wheatfields where the real work is done, personified with a leisurely gaze as the sun sets. The poem’s tone carries a similar duality in its combination of graveness and lightness. Dickinson blends the heaviness of death with the ordinariness of a carriage ride.

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