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Emily Dickenson1

Emily Dickinson's poems, “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” and “I Heard A Fly Buzz-When I Died,” are both about one of life's few certainties, death. However, that is where the similarities end. Although Dickinson wrote both poems, their ideas about what lies after death differ. In one, there appears to be life after death, but in the other there is nothing. A number of clues in each piece help to determine which poem believe in what. The clues in “I heard a Fly buzz-when I died,” point to a disbelief in an afterlife. In this poem, a woman is lying in bed with her family or friends standing all around waiting for her to die. While the family is waiting for her to pass on, she is waiting for “...the King...” This symbolizes some sort of god that will take her away. As the woman dies, her eyes, or windows as they are referred to in the poem, fail and then she “...could not see to see-.” As she died she saw “the light” but then her eyes, or windows, failed and she saw nothing. This is the suggestion of there being no afterlife. The woman's soul drifted off into nothingness because there was no afterlife for it to travel to. This is the complete opposite belief about afterlife in Dickinson's other poem.In the piece, “Because I Could Not Stop For Death,” Dickinson tells the story of a woman who is being taken away by Death. The speaker in the poem clearly states that she will not stop for Death but that it will have to come and get her. This is illustrated in the second line of the poem “Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for me.” “The Carriage held but just Ourselves-And Immortality.” The idea of immortality is the first indication that this poem believes in an afterlife. In many religions, where there is a grim reaper type spirit, this being will deliver a person's soul to another place, usually heaven or hell...

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