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Poetry - Because I could not stop for death
See if you can get 10 out of 10 in this quiz.

Poetry - Because I could not stop for death

Emily Dickinson was a nineteenth-century American poet. She is equally famed for her individual, unconventional voice and for the quantity of her writing (having written nearly one thousand, eight hundred poems). Unlike most poems written in the nineteenth century, Dickinson's poetry tended towards brevity - her lines, as well as her poems, are short. One of the most well-known is 'Because I could not stop for Death'.

Read the poem and then test your skill at interpretation by trying this English quiz.

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Because I could not stop for Death

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 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, my Gown--
My Tippet--only Tulle--

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--


Emily Dickinson 

1.
Who is the 'He' of the second line?
The narrator
The poet's friend
The man who drives her carriage
Death
Death is personified throughout Dickinson's poem
2.
'Chill' / 'Tulle' is an example of what?
Sight rhyme
Approximate rhyme
Alliteration
Assonance
Approximate rhyme is also referred to as 'near', 'slant', or 'partial' rhyme - Dickinson uses this style of rhyme in her ABCB rhyme scheme
3.
Considering the answer to question two, what effect does this create?
It creates a slight sense of discord
It creates a sense of pace
It creates a sense of harmony
It has no effect on the poem
4.
What is the 'House' referred to in the fourth stanza?
A cellar
The narrator's home
The grave
A church
5.
'And I had put away / My labor and my leisure too' - What is meant by these lines?
The narrator is tired
The narrator has finished her day at work
The narrator will never again work or participate in any other activity
The narrator is only being polite to Death
Here Dickinson is very playfully comparing the ceasing of all activity at death with the way someone might politely (and temporarily) stop what she is doing when a visitor arrives
6.
With which lines are the lines in question five contrasted?
'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, my Gown-- / My Tippet--only Tulle--'
The children are simultaneously playing at 'recess' (meaning break time) and working ('strove'). They are at the beginning of their lives, while the narrator has reached the end of hers
7.
In the third and fourth stanzas, the word 'passed' is repeated four times. Which of the following is NOT true of the effect produced by this repetition?
The repetition creates a contrast between the activity of life and the narrator's passivity
The repetition gives the impression that the narrator is taking farewell of the world
The repetition creates the effect of the narrator's life flashing by
The repetition creates a sense of eagerness
8.
Which words could be used to describe Death in this poem?
Hasty, rough, terrifying
Civil, polite, gentlemanly
Loud, friendly, pleasant
Inconspicuous and weak
Death is portrayed as a gentleman - yet the narrator has very little choice whether to climb into the carriage or not. Do you think Dickinson might be ironic in her description?
9.
How would you describe the rhythm of this poem?
Irregular
Regular, with six syllables in every line
Regular, with eight syllables in every line
Regular, using iambic meter
The first and third line in (nearly) every stanza have eight syllables, while the second and fourth have six
10.
In which stanza is this rhythm disrupted?
First
Second
Third
Fourth
The fourth stanza disrupts the steady rhythm, which has until then given the effect of a horse-drawn carriage travelling smoothly. At this point, the Sun has passed the narrator, taking away its light and warmth. The effect is of the carriage suddenly stopping - at the grave
Author:  Sheri Smith

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