Type Poem
Date 1890
Lines 24
Series The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Variorum edition (Franklin) (479)
Tags death, Christianity

Because I could not stop for Death –

This poem (like many) has been set to music. One such arrangement is by Aaron Copland, as part of his "Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson". Happily, this track is available on Spotify, so you may listen to it:

The lyrics used here are the edited form of the poem published in 1890. Another (very different!) version also based on that publication by Natalie Merchant and Susan McKeown is also available:

These are but two of the many settings of this poem to music. Search Spotify for the poem's first line and you'll find a score of them. A similar number of performances of Copland's version may be found there as well. I encourage you to listen to several. Dickinson's rhythm and pauses are artful: so too are those in song; the variety of musical interpretations of this poem highlights this.

Further reading

Eunice Glenn. "Emily Dickinson's Poetry: A Revaluation", The Sewanee Review 51, 4 (1943), 574--588.
Thomas H. Johnson. Emily Dickinson: An Interpretive Biography (Belknap, 1955).
Allen Tate, "Emily Dickinson", Reactionary Essays on Poetry and Ideas (1936). Reprinted in Essays of Four Decades, 281--298, (Morrow, 1970).
Tate praises this poem as "one of the perfect poems in English".
Yvor Winters, "Emily Dickinson and the Limits of Judgment", In Defense of Reason, 283--299, (Swallow, 1947).
Winters takes issue with Tate's criticism in [Tate1970]. He calls this poem "the finest example" of Dickinson's "poems representing a mixed theme", that is, of poems which treat death and what follows at once as something alien to human experience and also as susceptible to description in familiar terms.

First Line

Because I could not stop for Death –
Name Role
Emily Dickinson Author