“Because I could not stop for death” (poetry recitation)

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 –
by Emily Dickinson

According to a variety of credible sources, Emily Dickinson, born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1830, is considered one of the most important American poets. Despite this recognition, only ten of her poems were published during her lifetime, although she did send hundreds of poems to friends and correspondents. Recognition would find her in 1890, four years after her death, when the first selection of her poems was published, following the discovery of 1,800 poems by her family. It wasn’t until 1955 that a complete volume of her work would be published.

Dickinson, considered frail by her parents, was the second of three children who lived a life of “moderate privilege… with strong local and religious [Calvinism] attachments.” She was an introvert who became more of a recluse with the passing of years. She never married, but she did experience heartbreak, based on drafts of letters, although the identity of the person has yet to be confirmed. Her closest friendships had a “literary flavour” and included, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, Josiah G. Holland and his wife, Elizabeth. Most of her writing was shared in the form of letters, with a great number of them remaining. Her style of off-rhymes has been “seen as both experimental and influenced by the 18th-century hymnist Isaac Watts.” Immortality and death are common themes found in Dickinson’s poems. Other themes include the importance of self and a “rebellion against the God whom she deemed scornful and indifferent to human suffering.” She did not consider herself subordinate to God, like other religious poets of her time.

A special thank you to Masticadores Spain, for publishing my poem, “Heart Beats on a City Street.” Thank you for visiting and watching. Enjoy your day. Be well. 💗 Michele

Find my photos and micropoems on Instagram ~ @mlsefton

References: Poets.org, Britannica

Artwork behind me: Artist, Sammi Lee Featured Photo: my image, Pioneer Cemetery, Eugene, OR Videographer: me with the help of my tripod and outdated iPhone 🤪

© 2021 Michele Lee Sefton

75 thoughts on ““Because I could not stop for death” (poetry recitation)

  1. I very much love this poem, Michele, and I agree that poetry should be read aloud, so your video was a real treat for me! I am hugely inspired by what I’ve read of Emily Dickinson: I have her complete works, one day I will read them all! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ingrid. I am glad this was a treat for you. 😊 It was a treat to share. Have I told you recently how much I appreciate you? 😁 I have enjoyed your readings and those of your Anthology contributors. The different voices coming together has been absolutely wonderful. 🥰 Only 1800 poems – you should be able to get through them by Sunday evening. Add that to your to-do list, after your own writing, of course! 😃 Emily can wait!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Timothy Price

    Very good recitation. I have one suggestion from years of photographing weddings. Arms and hands are always a problem, and we naturally want to put our hands together in front. The problem is the hands make an arrow-like shape that draws our attention from the face to the hands. If you are going to show your hands it’s best to have them at you side. Then they don’t distract. Otherwise, you can use them to help express your recitation. I hope this is a helpful suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Timothy. I really appreciate your suggestions. I do need the help of a professional, with photos and videos. Someday! 😆 Until then, I will keep learning as I go. Interesting tip about the hands. Thank you. Placing my hands by my side feels a bit stiff, but I do understand what you are saying. With this poem being a bit somber, I decided to keep my hands still. Normally, my hands and arms are quite expressive when I speak or present to a class. 😆 I need help with lighting too. Always something to learn!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Timothy Price

        Two things I constantly have to tell people not to do when doing portraits is cross their hands in front and have hands on another person’s shoulder or waist so the fingers show like worms. Those habits are extremely annoying in photos. Lighting, location, background have a lot to do with your presentation. Video can be really challenging.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So many details that are not obvious until after-the-fact for us nonprofessional videographers and photographers. I do enjoy learning, but it does get challenging working in front of and behind the camera. I need to get a remote shutter release for my camera so that my selfies are not blurry and reading about lighting would help too.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Timothy Price

        You can get remote shutter releases, also, that you can use to stealthy release the shutter. Do you process your videos in post processing software? I always process videos. I almost always detach the audio from the video, export the audio as a wav file (wav files are like raw image files for sound), import the wav into my sound processing software, clean up the sound, export it to a wav file and import back into the video processor and add it to the video.


      4. Yes it does, as you saw in my correction comment. A remote shutter release, that is it! 😂 I use Premier Rush (Adobe) to process video. My processing is basic, as I am sure you can tell. I use Audition for straight audio. Detaching the audio would have been helpful with this video. More to learn! I really appreciate your time and suggestions here.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Timothy Price

        Do you use Windows or Mac? I use Mac and iMove for video processing it’s really quite powerful. I assume Premier Rush has a mobile version? I messed it it a little. I have to Adobe photo subscription because it’s a good deal and I’ve used Photoshop since it first cam out, but I mostly use Camera raw for all my photo processing. Photoshop is more of a pass through for the signing and batch processing.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I use Windows. I had a Mac for several years and loved it until it crashed… hard. Yes, Rush has a mobile version. I do like Adobe Suite – more programs than I will ever use. I prefer Lightroom for my nature photos, but Photoshop was helpful for chapbook drawings. I also like Sparks (Adobe) for creating IG posts with text.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Timothy Price

        I don’t like Lightroom. Long story involving the first several versions of Lightroom and an architect/photographer. I played with Spark a little and didn’t really get it.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Timothy Price

        The main complaint I have about it is it imports you images. I like Adobe Bridge because it I can organize photos without it importing them.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Timothy Price

        I mostly use my iPhone for video. I have professional Canon bodies with full-frame sensors I use when a longer lens is required for video, but those bodies are very expensive. The problem with video equipment, to get beyond the quality of an iPhone, is thousands upon thousands of dollars.

        The new iPhone 13 Pro has a LiDAR Scanner which enhances night vision in the camera. LiDAR scanners are used in cars for sensing proximity to things around the car. Apple doesn’t say the LiDAR scanner works with video, but even with still photography that is a great enhancement.

        I recently got an iPhone 12 mini instead of a wide-angle lens for another camera because I like the size and form factor of the mini. The iPhone 13 Pro is larger, but it’s tempting for the LiDAR because I do so much low-light photography.

        In short, after all that verbiage, I would recommend a new iPhone for video, unless you have thousands of dollars to invest in video equipment.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Thank you so much for the info! My intuition was spot on about a new iPhone vs. video equipment, but I appreciate hearing that from someone with video experience. iPhones are too pricey too, but they are smaller and less expensive than video equipment.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Timothy Price

        When I considered the price of a new iPhone was the same as a lens, yet I can do so much more with the phone than I can with the lens, it made the cost of the iPhone more reasonable. They are expensive if all you are using them for is a phone, but the phone is really secondary use for me now. And I don’t use the phone nearly to it’s potential like my daughter for example. I still do things on the computer I could do on the phone, but I like the larger screen.

        If you decide you are in the market for a new computer, I would recommend a Mac M1. Not only do they cost less, they are really powerful.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. So true, on all accounts. I need the video camera for dance classes too, so it is a needed investment. My daughter, who has a degree in art and technology, never ceases to amaze and teach me. She also gets frustrated with me. 😂 Thank you for the Mac tip. I have a small ASUS laptop that is great for travel and a larger monitor when working from home, but I did love the Mac.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So nice of you to share your wonderful recitation of this Emily Dickinson poem, Michele. Splendid poetry presented very well. I enjoyed your voice and think you look great! I thought your hands were fine, by the way, and appreciated you donning all black per the subject matter of her poem. And, I agree ~ it’s nice to hear poems read aloud. Thank you. 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so nice to have a forum to share one of my passions – poetry, both the writing of the artform and the highlighting of other poets. Thank you, Phil. 😄 Oh, what to do with the hands? One should always have pockets, then problem solved. 😆 Guess you read through a few comments… my tech lessons for the day. I do need them and I appreciate the different perspectives. We should do what feels right for us, but I find feedback helpful in the learning process. The words are always more important to me, but I know fine-tuning the tech side of delivery will enhance the presentation of the words. Learning keeps life interesting.✨ Thank you, I don’t have a gossamer gown, so I went with the next best choice – black, which felt appropriate for a carriage ride with Death. 💀🐴

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A gorgeous recitation, Michele. What a beautiful poem. I adore Emily Dickinson; and, think you’ve breathed much life into this poem through the spoken word. As you read, I set my phone down and just let the words wash over me, as the imagery was conjured, and danced within. Beautiful, my friend. 🥰❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why thank you, Jeff. 😁 I agree. A poem that reminds me that death is going to find me/us, whether we are ready or not, so best to make the most of each day. A powerful message that poems deliver like none other. How wonderful. I do the same when I am listening to poems. I think it allows us to tune out the world and process the subtleties, images, and emotions found in poetry. I am glad you enjoyed Dickinson’s poem and the recitation. 🙏🏼 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re most welcome, Michele, always! 😁 Ah, yes, indeed, each moment is precious isn’t it. Love that. So very true. I agree about listening to the poem. A very enriching experience. Happy Saturday evening! 🌕🙏🥰🦋

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, I have been waiting for this Michele. You did a phenomenal job with this poem and you look absolutely FANtabulous dawlink! 😘 You did Emily proud my dear, and congrats to you for your poem being featured on Masticadores Spain. You go girl!!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 So proud of you.

    AND, would you believe that I played the clarinet in my high school band? First chair. 🎵 🎼 🎶 We had to play an instrument in order to be a majorette, so all of the clarinets Alto, Soprano, and Contrabass are what I played where needed. Sadly, after graduating, my clarinet was stolen, but it was in the care of a girl I graciously lent it to, who could not afford to buy an instrument but wanted to play in the band. She didn’t have any remorse about it when I asked her for it. Could have sold it and just said it was stolen. My parents were furious because I did not get permission from them to do it. But enough of that…I digress!!! LOL 😝

    I just wanted to say we become more kindred with more in common every time I look around. WOW! Enjoy the rest of your weekend gorgeous! Do a little dance for Emily!!! Whoo-hooooo… 🤗 💃🏻 🥰


    1. I did not know, sorry to keep you waiting. At least it wasn’t centuries. 😆 Thank you so much, Kym. Very kind! I would love it very much if you were my sister. I do not have one and you, as one, would be a dream. 🥰 I do believe it, because clarinet players are classy and cool. 😂 We can share that first chair. Sorry to read that happened to you. 😞 I played the same instrument from third grade until last year when I finally got a new one. I had it recorked a few times, but it was time to let the cork crumble and invest in a new instrument. What a difference! 🎵 Love it and so appreciate your loving support. 🙏🏼 We shall dance toward eternity! 💓 💃🏼 🌃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honey chile, we are one in sisterhood across the miles. As Forrest Gump said about him and Ginny, they are like peas and carrots, 🥕 they just go together. Well, perhaps Forrest Gump wasn’t the best example, but I’m sure you get my drift! 😜

        But no, my waiting was my anticipation of what you were going to post for today. 🤭 You’re like a fisherman, or fisherwoman, casting out her line and reeling us in with a bait of words on your hook. So now that we are joined at the hip by the clarinet (although I haven’t played in decades), I now understand why our auras resonate so profoundly across the miles!!! 😱 💐 🤗 Keep shining, keep smiling! 😇 🤭 🤩

        Liked by 1 person

      2. haha A perfect example – one of my favorite movies. 😀 How very special to know you look forward to my posts. Thank you, Kym, that means a lot to me. 💗 Yes, it all makes sense. We are both full of wind. 😂 Stay out of trouble on this Saturday night. Well, maybe a little trouble is ok. 😉 Thank you. I will do my best. You too!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dwight. I am glad you enjoyed the recitation.💐 Of course, I agree, about Dickinson’s poem. I learn something new whenever I revisit this poem. I love that about well-written poetry. It grows with us. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: A Poetry Recitation (video) – AGYEKUM TV

    1. Ha! I will have to watch and look for that. You would notice such a detail. 😄 Absolutely, yes. She would be an interesting one to spend a day with. BTW, I am going to write about your “Award” on my Saturday post. Thanks again for thinking of me. 💐

      Liked by 1 person

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  8. Pingback: Deep Dive into the Center – My Inspired Life

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