Correct tense: The Poetess says that she had no time to think about death in...

Good Morning Sir.

I read a summary of a poem “Becaue I could not stop for death” by Emily Dickson.
where i came across with a grammatical problem that when we use narration, we know that the tense of reported speech changes according to the tense of reporting verb…

“The Poetess says that she had no time to think about death in her life.She remained all the time busy in her worldly activities.She never spared time to think about death.She says that Death drove his carriage slowly”

In this excerpt I want to know that reporting verb is"she says"in the present simple tense but repoerted speech are in the past tense “she had,she never spared” …why? :? please tell me why tense is changed from present simple to past simple.

Thanks a lot in advance.

Hi Sonia,

The commentator uses the present because the poem itself isn’t restricted in time and that’s why he uses the verb form ‘says’. The poem is there all the time - you can read it today, tomorrow whenever and what the poet writes is always in the present. What the poet actually did and thought will be in the past.

Let me give another example: In his play ‘King Lear’ Shakespeare describes an old man who wanted to divide his kingdom between his daughters.


Thanks a lot Alan.