Escaping boundaries, death, reflection, afterlife
Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me
Death does the speaker a service, offering her a courtesy in allowing her to die. Death is personified. The word ‘kindly’ is highly ironic and it distances from any fear of death. Speaker is immediately presented as detached.
I had put away my labour and and my leisure too for his civility
The speaker acts as if death was something of an inconvenience. Death can alleviate stress but also be unhelpful in terms of required task.
Extended metaphor and juxtaposition and personification
We passed the school/the ring/the fields/the setting sun
The anaphora of ‘we passed’ shows that it was a long and extended journey - in dying the speaker is escaping things which previously bound her. The speaker is detached from any possibility of reincarnation which is why she can speak posthumously
Or rather, he passed us
Form mirrors content -tonal shift and with ‘or rather’ the metre is interrupted
The dews drew quivering and chill
Pathetic fallacy - foreshadowing the end of any enjoyable element of death and implying there is a harsher side to it. -gothic trope
For only gossamer, my gown, my tippet, only tulle
Marriage to death? Momentous occasion so dressed up?
We paused before a house that seemed a swelling of the ground
Start of an extended metaphor , comparing grave to house. Euphemistic tone to soften reality. Also quite sinister as the ground will now be the speakers home- contrary to our expectations of home - maybe speaker is used to feeling buried in life
Since then, ‘tis’ centuries and yet/feels shorter than the day’
Speaker has been dead for vast tracts of time. While they have escaped the cycles of life, they are now entrapped in a tomb and bound by time