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05/12/2008 Entry: "Dickinson Poetry Question"

I learned something today! Emily Dickinson's poem "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" is also called "The Chariot." I had never heard that before. Most of Dickinson's poems are untitled, and are usually referred to by the first line--or maybe the number if you're a crazy poetry geek. In any event, I'm trying to find where the title comes from, and can't seem to get the answer out of Google. Can anyone help me?

Replies: 3 people have rocked the mic!

Did you see the post that indicated that you can sing this poem (along with most all of Dickinson's poems) to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas"?

Posted by Lisa @ 05/12/2008 05:33 PM EST

I can give you a best guess...but this is not proof. I would say it is also called the Chariot because the Chariot is the metaphorical transportation to heaven. There are references to Chariots for this purpose throughout mythology, theology and music.

For instance here is a gospel song: Good News The Chariot's Coming And of course Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

Posted by Amy @ 05/13/2008 11:40 AM EST

Thanks Amy. I get the metaphorical application of the title. I'm really after the historic application, though. When, and why, did this title get added to the poem? My hunch is Ms. Dickinson didn't have it on there, and someone else added it for some other reason. Of course, I may be wrong, and Ms. Dickinson may have titled this poem. But if you search for "The Chariot," you get far fewer hits than if you searched for the first line. The wikipedia entry for the poem doesn't even reference "The Chariot." I'll bet it was added later, perhaps by a publisher.

Posted by BR @ 05/13/2008 11:51 AM EST

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