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The Chariot -- Emily Dickinson

Guest poem submitted by Mukund Rangamani:
(Poem #458) The Chariot
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible.
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.
-- Emily Dickinson
This is one of the few poems which has imho done justice to the
concept of Death. The poem itself is pretty simple, but the imagery
conjured is quite nice. I especially like the rather abrupt way in
which the poem begins, rather beautifully capturing the phase
transition which seperates death from life. The rest deals with the
passage of time after death in a manner that seems to immortalise
the theme.

Mukund.

10 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Jeff Berndt said...

Here's an interesting bit of Emily Dickinson trivia:

You can sing dern near every single one of her poems
to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Try it.
It's kinda fun.

Jeff B.

Tracy Mattingly said...

To me, the excellence of this poem is in its masterful phrasing and in
the idea that Death is a gentleman. But its use of the standard myth of
Death as a guy who comes and gets you and takes you away in his vehicle
makes me wonder if there are any poems where Death is female. I would
also like to see a poem where some person decides to go pick up Death
rather than waiting for him to arrive!

Daniel Marsh said...

A scarier thought is that someone once pointed out to me that parts of
Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" could be sung to the tune of
"Gilligan's Island."

At any rate, regarding a female Death, oddly enough she's been represented
that way not once but at least twice in the are of comic books. There are
some issues in the seventies regarding an alien named "Thanos" who was
quite litterally in love with Death, whom he saw as female. He wanted to
destroy all of creation as a sort of a wedding present. I believe these
issues were the work of Mike Carlin

More recently, there's Neil Gaiman's "Sandman," where the main character is
the personifcation of Dream, and his older sister is Death. As opposed to
Carlin's Death, whom I believe is a fairly impersonal figure, Gaiman's is
very personable, and in fact quite likable. She has a sort of a goth look
(chalk-white skin, which Dream also has, and wears black with an ankh
around her neck,) but she a fairly cheery personality. An interesting
contrast.

There's also an episode of "The Twilight Zone" that comes to mind, one
called "Nothing in the Dark," where an old woman is seen hiding from Death,
believing Death to be a real individual who appears in many disguises. I
won't go into too much detail, but she is fooled into letting in Death
(played by a young Robert Redford,) tending him for a while (he is
disguised as a wounded policeman) and telling him her fears. When he is
revealed to be Death, he's more comforting than ominous. "What you thought
was terrible, passed with only a whisper. What you thought was the end,
was only the beginning." Good ep.

T_Latham said...

Dear Mr. Rangamani,

I have written a similar version of Emily Dickinson's "The Chariot." The
poem is entitled "The Judgment." She and I both take vehicles to our death.
Emily takes a chariot, while I take a ship.

The Judgment
By Tamara Beryl Latham, c 2003

A ship glides into port this night
and stirs the sable sea.
Presents a solemn, eerie sight
because it waits for me.

I board, though distant memory
fuels quickly, growing fears,
unleashing ghosts who claim they're me
that lived in former years.

Cathedral bells toll heavy through
my life's divided acts,
as wraiths hold writs for all to view;
corroborated facts.

Soon Autumn winds expand the sails,
I've tallied riches few.
The lighthouse shrieks our mournful wails,
me and my ghostly crew.

Best,

Tamara
"Truth, like light, is often slanted.". ..Tamara B. Latham, c 2003
Tamara B. Latham - "Mirror of my Soul"
[broken link] http://www.geocities.com/tblatham/index.html

Anonymous said...

The stanza of poem was missing and having error,
so please check and re-edit the poem once more...

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