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Emily Dickinson and “Because I could not Stop for Death”

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1 Emily Dickinson and “Because I could not Stop for Death”
Lectured by Hu Lingli Foreign Languages Department

2 Teaching Objectives Review Emily Dickinson’s life
Analysis of “Because I could not Stop for Death” Comparative Study: Emily Dickinson & Li Qingzhao

3 Emily Dickinson’s Mansion

4 Dickinson’s Bedroom

5 A Nun in White Dress (白衣女尼)

6 Because I could not stop for Death—
One of the perfect poems in English. One of the greatest in the English language. —Allen Tate

7 Stanza 1 and 2 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 – He: death Civility: politeness; kindness

8 Stanza 3 and 4 We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring – We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – We passed the Setting Sun – Or rather – He passed Us – The Dews drew quivering and chill – For only Gossamer(薄纱), my Gown – My Tippet (披肩)– only Tulle , – Recess: break time Ring: the shape of a ring, in a circle Gazing Grain: ripe He: the setting sun

9 Stanza 5 and 6 We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground – The Roof was scarcely visible – The Cornice– in the Ground – Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity – House: grave. Cornice : ornamental moulding in plaster, round the walls of a room, just below the ceiling. (飞檐\檐口) surmised: guessed

10 Discussion Questions Death is unavoidable for everybody, what’s your opinion about death? According to the speaker, is death terrible or charming? (stanza 1 and 2) What are the symbolic meanings of “the School”, “the fields of Gazing Grain”, “the Setting Sun”? What is the speaker’s view on death?

11 Tone and Theme Tone: the tone is changeable with the stanzas develop. First, the tone is light and pleasant. Then, it becomes serious and finally, the tone changes to be meditative. Theme: Death leads to immortality. Death is an endless journey; It’s a journey from life to death, from physical to spiritual, from time to timelessness.

12 More views on death… To die: to sleep; No more;
—by William Shakespeare A life time is a year, death is winter. —by Robert Browning Death, esp a young beautiful lady’s death, is the most poetical topic in the world — by Edgar Allan Poe

13 Comparison: Emily Dickinson & Li Qingzhao
Similarities: a. both received good education b. broke away the fetters of tradition and seeked for women’s right for love and freedom. c. both emphasized the importance of images, employed economical and colloquial words.

14 Emily Dickinson & Li Qingzhao
Differences: a. Dickinson lived a reclusive life and remained single while Li Qingzhao had a happy marriage life. b. different ways to deal with the theme of love. (frank and straightforward & implicit and sentimental)

15 Thank you for your attention!

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