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In "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" (J712), Emily Dickinson uses remembered images of the past to clarify infinite conceptions through the establishment of a dialectical relationship between reality and imagination, the known and the unknown.[1] By viewing this relationship holistically and hierarchically ordering the stages of life to include death and eternity, Dickinson suggests the interconnected and mutually determined nature of the finite and infinite.[2]

From the viewpoint of eternity, the speaker recalls experiences that happened on earth centuries ago. In her recollection, she attempts to identify the eternal world by its relationship to temporal standards, as she states that "Centuries" (21) in eternity are "shorter than the [earthly] day" (22). Likewise, by anthropomorphizing Death as a kind and civil gentleman, the speaker particularizes Death's characteristics with favorable connotations. [3] Similarly, the finite and infinite are amalgamated in the fourth stanza:

The Dews drew quivering and chill-- For only Gossamer, my Gown--My Tippett--only Tulle--(14-16)

In these lines the speaker's temporal existence, which allows her to quiver as she is chilled by the "Dew," merges with the spiritual universe, as the speaker is attired in a "Gown" and cape or "Tippet," made respectively of "Gossamer," a cobweb, and "Tulle," a kind of thin, open net-temporal coverings that suggest transparent, spiritual qualities.

Understanding the incomprehensible often depends on an appreciation of the progression of the stages of existence. By recalling specific stages of life on earth, the speaker not only settles her temporal past but also views these happenings from a higher awareness, both literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, for example, as the carriage gains altitude to make its heavenly

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