The Theme of Death in Poems


Death is a common theme in many poems. It is viewed so differently to
everyone. In the poems, "Because I could not stop for Death," "First Death in
Nova Scotia," and "War is kind" death is presented by each narrator as something
different. To one it is a kind gentle stranger while to another it is a cold
cruel being.
A kind gentleman stranger personifies death in, "Because I could not
stop for Death." The narrator of the poem is a busy person, with little time,
and definitely no time to die. Her carriage driver, which is death, arrives to
take her into immortality. Death isn\'t hasty, he doesn\'t take her quickly. He
drives her past things that the narrator had not taken the time to notice in a
while. The narrator watched as he drives her past a school, where children are
playing, and then on they go past fields. She sees the sun go down, and the
carriage driver past the sun, but she realizes they weren\'t passing the sun, it
was passing them; time was passing by, past her life. Her life has now past her
by, and she is arriving at her final destination, which was her grave, yet she
describes it as her house. In the end she is looking back, and sees how
centuries have passed, yet she isn\'t passing by anymore, and to her this hundred
years seems as no time at all. Finally she accepts her death, and is able to
pass into eternity. To her death wasn\'t harsh like some see it, but a kindly,
gentle soul, taking her for a carriage ride to her final home.
A child experiences death much differently than an adult. Children
aren\'t quite able to see death as the sad even that it is. "First Death in Nova
Scotia" tells of a young boys death, and his cousins view of it. We are shown
Arthur\'s death through the eyes of a child. The little girl, our narrator,
describes the scene of her cousins funeral. Her focus however is not how we
might think that she would perceive it. She describes to us pictures of the
Royal family hanging in the room, and of a stuffed loon that her uncle had
killed. To me it seems that she sees this event, her cousins death, as an
esteemed event, one that the most pristine people are attending. She begins by
telling us of the royals hanging in the room, and end talking of them again.
In the last stanza, she mentions the gracious royal couples and how they have
invited cousin Arthur to be the smallest page in their court. It is as though
she is trying to make this event an honorable one, instead of one of mourning,
and sadness as most see it. In the poem, the colors were mentioned frequently,
and the little girl many times mentioned how white cousin Arthur was. She
mentioned to white, frozen lake of the loon that was a marble topped table. The
color of Arthur was also white, like a doll that hadn\'t been painted. She
played a lily in his hand, yet another personification of innocense by the color
of the flower. This defining of the color is symbolic, or the youth and
innocence of Arthur. It represents how he was but a child, and his death was
not such a sad occasion, but the taking of innocence from one place, to a better
one. Again in this poem death was not personified as evil, but as a gentle
removal of the life and youth of an innocent young boy.
In the poem "War is Kind" the narrator uses sarcasm to display death.
He begins in the first stanza, telling a young woman whose lover has been killed
in war, how noble his death was. He tell her not to weep because he died in
glory. Yet in the second stanza hedescibes the horror of the war, and how
uncivilized it really is. He portrays the dying of the many people as in vein,
rather than in glory, and honor. The narrator goes back and forth from
glorifying the dying of the soldiers, to telling of its stupidity, and how truly
unhonorable it is. Death is portrayed as vial in this poem, and is shown to be
that through the use of sarcasm.
In these three poems death is personified and viewed as several
different things. One sees it as a kind stranger. In another death is viewed
as a cold, occasion,