I enjoy researching poetry and sharing my findings with readers.
Poetry and Death
Poetry has a long history of discussing death and dying. In B.L. Reid's The Lyric of Tragedy, he outlines this history in great detail. Poets seem preoccupied with death, perhaps because of a sensitivity to this human inevitability. This article discusses three poems about death and gives some interpretations of them. The poems that this article covers are:
- "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe
- "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" by Emily Dickinson
- "Winter Death" by Megan Fricke
1. "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe
The meter of the poem is in trochaic octameter, with eight stressed-unstressed two-syllable feet per line. The use of the "O" sound in the words "Lenore" and "nevermore" displays the lonely, gothic, and depressing sound of the poem.
The narrator starts out in the poem in a rather gothic state with a dying fire, a bleak December night, and a lonely apartment. "The Raven" just keeps repeating the word "nevermore" and is a reminder of the memories of a deceased woman. The narrator wants to know if she exists in an afterlife and is only told by the Raven who symbolizes death, "nevermore".
The Raven was a messenger of death and its black feathers were traditionally considered a sign of ill omen. The Raven is the psyche of Edgar Allen Poe or his tormented mind dealing with the death and grief of a young woman. Two years after it was published his wife died of tuberculosis.
2. "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" by Emily Dickinson
This poem by Emily Dickinson has been interpreted to have death personalized as a male courtier. Immortality accompanies them as it was not uncommon for a chaperon to have to go along if a young woman was on a date. The sunset that they end up passing towards the end of the poem symbolizes the end of someone's life.
Death is portrayed as a ghoulish wooer by Emily Dickinson. In the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe, death is seen as the Raven, a constant reminder of an end to existence. It was tormenting Poe. Emily Dickinson welcomes death. It is like she is taking him on a date.
Death comes in many different forms
Like dead little girls being eaten by worms.
As the rain pours down the bitter wind turns it to snow.
The frozen black flower is eaten by a crow.
When the blood is pumped out of your arm it feels dead.
Good little girls just go to bed.
The semen sleeps deep inside of you.
On her insides it becomes her darkest hue.
While being six feet underground
There is the entrenched silence, not even a sound.
As death surrounds the lonely female child
Comes a darkening, beckoning call of the wild.
There is no honeysuckle for her milk has run dry and is cold.
As a virgin child she was bought raped and sold.
Where there was once a sparkle in her eyes
On their interior a throwaway child dies.
The baby rests in the arms of a dead teenage girl.
Around the child’s breasts its fresh fingers curl.
With the cry of a morning a starting of day
In this life’s journey the sunrise was on its way.
It rose out of darkness supposed to be a great light.
Approaching the deep sleep of winter the ravens took flight.
The night contained a deep eternal velvet black and blue sky
With the moon mysteriously hung like a small child’s sigh.
The ice bitterly freezes the coldest of stones,
The witches, the whores, the homeless and crones.
The morning baby was raised by the still of the night.
Its innocence to the blackness brings a great pearly bright light.
The witch lays the morning on the ocean’s shore.
It came from the dark bleeding womb of a child whore.
While subsiding deep into the dark oceans from which the witch came
The cold dark enchanting waters were erasing her name.
While the waves were crashing and pounding among the sandy shore
A bolt of lightning crashed among the stars that soar.
Finally her head submerges into the cold dark enchanting waters.
The Father, the son, and Holy Spirit never had time for daughters.
The stone angel statues are weeping with tears.
As the baby sleeps its head filled with fears.
Doves are cooing on top of the rooftop.
As her blood drips in sewers her killers will never stop.
3. "Winter Death" by Megan Fricke
What this poem is about is subject to interpretation. It appears to be referencing the death of a woman who was scorned by society. It also talks about the birth of a child, possibly representing new life. However, the ultimate meaning is difficult to discern.
This modern poem is full of tons of imagery and very dark themes and feelings. Much of the poem is, of course, written in the present tense. The poem is from the book God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise by Megan Fricke, which is sold on Amazon. In Poe's poem, "The Raven", death is represented by the Raven, and in Emily Dickinson's poem, death is represented as a date. This poem does not really give a form to death with the opening line being "Death comes in many different forms". Interpretation of this poem is still largely up to each individual.