The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

from Emily Dickinson – Because I could not stop for Death (712) on Rap Genius

Meaning

The speaker soon finds herself to be cold and under-dressed, uncomfortable.

Her gown of gossamer (a fine fabric) and her tippet, or scarf, of tulle (a lightweight lace) may indicate that the speaker has passed away in her sleep, while wearing a nightgown, or that death feels like a kind of dream.

There is also the possibility that this is not a nightgown, but a wedding gown. After all, these are fine fabrics. This goes back to the idea of Death, personified as the suitor, slowly sweeping the speaker off her feet. The sun has passed them (passage of time) and the speaker is ready to marry Death, becoming one with him for eternity.

Notice also the alteration of “gossamer” with “gown” and “tippet” with “tulle.” There is a playfulness to the poem that keeps it from being purely somber or eerie.

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