American Icons: Because I Could Not Stop for Death


Friday, February 01, 2013

Because I Could Not Stop for Death Feature Card_Big2

How did Emily Dickinson's unusual poem about death become standard high school curriculum?

Emily Dickinson is one of those writers whose life is as famous as her writing: after she died, having spent much of her life writing at home, her sister found nearly two thousand poems in her bureau, all ready for publication. In a surprising number of those poems, Emily Dickinson was already dead.

"Because I Could Not Stop for Death," Dickinson’s fantasy of getting picked up by the grim reaper, has become standard reading curriculum in English classes across America, but it’s a very strange work of art. For our series on American Icons, Sean Cole, a poet himself, took a closer look at Dickinson's legendary work. And he puts to the test an old rumor that you can sing any of Dickinson’s poems to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island.” (Hint: Yes.)

(Originally aired: July 23, 2010)


Cindy Dickinson, Robert Howard, Joseph Lease, Leslie Morris, Jenny Proctor and Belinda West

Comments [3]

Big Red from Wilton

Did I really hear WORDsworth pronounced WADsworth? Emily, not to mention Emily, must be spinning in their graves.

Feb. 03 2013 03:32 PM
Jim Asher from Charlottesville, VA

Emily-Schemily! It is high time that the public recogize Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily's third-cousin, twice removed--at her request)as more than the "Salieri" to Emily's "Mozart."

Search online for "Emmett Lee Dickinson" -- and you will discover information about his life and poetry. As a matter of fact, the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (in WASherst, PA)is featuring many of his poems this month on Twitter: "FeBREWary: Dickinson's Poetry of Coffee & Caffeine). They tweet under the name @The_Dickinson.

Feb. 03 2013 11:58 AM
Dennis Ferguson from still alive

Amazing. I used to think of her as just strange.

Feb. 02 2013 08:08 AM

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