Even though it is a short 16 lines long, Emily Dickenson’s poem “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—” is full of death and darkness as well as light and life. Throughout the poem, seeing and sight are major topics which serve as a sense of irony for the narrator who is dying. Dickenson is able to describe death in a very vivid and colorful way that makes readers feel as if they are at the bedside of the dying narrator. She is excellent in her use of hidden meanings and references for such a short poem— this is the mark of an exceptional poet . Dickenson uses the em dash constantly throughout the poem— even in the title. She does this in order to make the reader pause for a second for dramatic effect. The reason for this is because a person on their death bed is going to pause and be a little slower, as opposed to a perfectly lively person. The em dash is used to separate the poem, whereas a special style is used in order to make the poem flow smoothly. This style is called iambic meter, a style that divides lines into two syllable sections. The syllable pattern is 8, 6, 8, 6 for every stanza in the poem. Iambic meter is used to counteract and support Dickenson’s use of the em dash. Dickenson uses very particular diction to describe the general theme of death within the poem. She uses phrases such as, “Stillness in the air,”(Line 3) “wrung them dry,”(Line 5) and “then the Windows failed”(Line 15), to describe the events of death as well as the events leading up to death. Her choice of diction makes the reader see death a little more vividly than a person would regularly view death. In stanza two, Dickenson says: The Eyes around— had wrung them dry— And Breaths were gathering firm For the last Onset— when the King Be witnes... ... middle of paper ... ...buzzing and silence that comes along with it also represent death and dying. Dickenson makes it very apparent that the narrator in this poem believes in God. Using the quotes, “Between the Heaves of Storm—” (Line 4) and “when the King Be witnessed— in the room—” (Line 7-8), Dickenson lets the reader know that she and the narrator have religious knowledge to say the least. Dickenson’s, “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—”, has many more references and meanings than just what appears on the surface. This poem means so many things to so many people that the audience changes depending on who is reading the poem. Dickenson wrote this poem for everyone and no one as it is relatable and at the same time completely different from what one would expect. This poem allows the reader to visualize death in such a way that is remarkably intense for such a short 16 line poem.
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“This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight; the trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves; The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves; And the houses ran along them laughing out of square; Open windows” (Lowell 185). This quote, taken out of Amy Lowell’s poem “September 1918,” illustrates the ability of the author to be very descriptive in order to give the reader an image of where she is and what is surrounding her. Through this poem she also give's the reader a sense of being there as well. Another author that resembles Lowell is Emily Dickinson. In Dickinson’s poem "I heard a Fly buzz-when I died" she says, “I heard a Fly buzz-when I died- The Stillness in the Room Was like the stillness in the Air- Between the Heaves of Storm” (Dickinson 1202). Like Lowell, Dickinson describes what she sees surrounding her, and by saying that she was dead in her poem she provides the reader the ability to create a mental image of a person actually dead in a coffin. Also in her poem called “Because I could not Stop for Death” Dickinson says, “Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for me- The Carriage held just but Ourselves and Immortality” (Dickinson 1206). In Dickinson’s second poem, she describes how death is taking her in its carriage to immortality. Making the reader create a picture of death actually taking her to infinity.
The speaker started the poem by desiring the privilege of death through the use of similes, metaphors, and several other forms of language. As the events progress, the speaker gradually changes their mind because of the many complications that death evokes. The speaker is discontent because of human nature; the searching for something better, although there is none. The use of language throughout this poem emphasized these emotions, and allowed the reader the opportunity to understand what the speaker felt.
The speaker believes that there is life after death, she believes that death isn’t the end but it is one step closer to eternity. She believes that death is something that happens to us and is not something we can challenge or decide when and how it happens. In the poem Dickenson presents death as something other than death. She uses the poetic device of personification to present death as if it was a human being. (Napierkowski 26-38.) She humanizes the experience making it more acceptable, fearsome and less abstract. (Napierkowski 26-38.) She capitalizes death to make the word more like someone’s name rather than being depicted as the end of human life. Dickenson describes “death” as her companion who is accompanying her to her resting place, her grave. (Napierkowski 26-38.) She states in the poem that “He kindly stopped for me.” Therefore making the event of death, through her use of personification an interaction between human
In the first instance, death is portrayed as a “bear” (2) that reaches out seasonally. This is then followed by a man whom “ comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse / / to buy me…” This ever-changing persona that encapsulates death brings forth a curiosity about death and its presence in the living world. In the second stanza, “measles-pox” (6) is an illness used to portray death’s existence in a distinctive embodiment. This uncertainty creates the illusion of warmth and welcomenesss and is further demonstrated through the reproduction of death as an eminent figure. Further inspection allows the reader to understand death as a swift encounter. The quick imagery brought forth by words such as “snaps” and “shut” provoke a sense of startle in which the audience may dispel any idea of expectedness in death’s coming. This essential idea of apparent arrival transitions to a slower, foreseeable fate where one can imagine the enduring pain experienced “an iceberg between shoulder blades” (line 8). This shift characterizes the constant adaptation in appearance that death acquires. Moreover, the idea of warmth radiating from death’s presence reemerges with the introduction to a “cottage of darkness” (line 10), which to some may bring about a feeling of pleasantry and comfort. It is important to note that line 10 was the sole occurrence of a rhetorical question that the speaker
Herrick’s examination of death and decay is without gore or sadness rather he uses positive and beautiful imagery of writing and sun and “raine” (63). The optimistic, excited tone of the poem keeps it from sounding like a lesson rather than a love charm. In lines 65-66, the speaker is romanticizing death by using the infinity of writing to preserve their love in “a fable, song” for everyone to experience (65-66). He wants his love to realize that even though they can be immortalized in words, before that time comes they need to “goe a Maying” to make their story more significant when they are older and when they are gone (70).
Emily Dickinson, a poet that was never truly heard until after death. Life is not always what you think it will be and sometimes your words are worth more after your gone. “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died,” and “Because I could not stop for Death” both poems engrossed on the subject of death. It is ironic and humorous; that after her death is when people began to read her poetry. Emily Dickinson was somewhat of a hermit so many people had not read her poetry until long after it was wrote; for she did not publish it herself. These poems are noticeably similar focusing on the subject of death, which is also the subject that makes them different. “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died,” is completely focused on death in a physical state; and “Because I could not stop for Death” focuses on death as a spiritual journey: The poems both present the existence of an afterlife, the speaker is dead and yet their voice is heard.
Emily Dickinson once said, “Dying is a wild night and a new road.” Some people welcome death with open arms while others cower in fear when confronted in the arms of death. Through the use of ambiguity, metaphors, personification and paradoxes Emily Dickinson still gives readers a sense of vagueness on how she feels about dying. Emily Dickinson inventively expresses the nature of death in the poems, “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain (280)”, “I Heard a fly Buzz—When I Died—(465)“ and “Because I could not stop for Death—(712)”.
The two poems, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”, by Dylan Thomas and, “Because I Could Not Wait for Death”, by Emily Dickinson, we find two distinct treatments on the same theme, death. Although they both represent death, they also represent it as something other than death. Death brings about a variety of different feelings, because no two people feel the same way or believe the same thing. The fact that our faith is unknown makes the notion of death a common topic, as writers can make sense of their own feelings and emotions and in the process hope to make readers make sense of theirs too. Both Dickinson and Thomas are two well known and revered poets for their eloquent capture of these emotions. The poems both explore death and the
Comparing and Contrasting Dickinson’s Poems, Because I Could Not Stop for Death and I Heard a Fly Buzz - When I Died
Emily Dickinson wrote hundreds of poems during her lifetime that dealt with death. She seemed to have an almost morbid fascination with the subject. Her poem "I heard a Fly buzz - when I died" is one of the many poems she wrote about this ghastly topic. The symbols she used make this poem interesting because they can be interpreted on more than one level. The punctuation and capitalization used also give the poem an abstract quality. Like much of Dickinson's poetry, this poem is both startling and somber.
Death is a controversial and sensitive subject. When discussing death, several questions come to mind about what happens in our afterlife, such as: where do you go and what do you see? Emily Dickinson is a poet who explores her curiosity of death and the afterlife through her creative writing ability. She displays different views on death by writing two contrasting poems: one of a softer side and another of a more ridged and scary side. When looking at dissimilar observations of death it can be seen how private and special it is; it is also understood that death is inevitable so coping with it can be taken in different ways. Emily Dickinson’s poems “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” and “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died” show both parallel and opposing views on death.
I have heard people say that Emily Dickinson used dashes whenever she could not find the words to fully express what she meant. While this is true in one sense, it is preposterous in another. Dickinson's careful and clever choice of words does not seem to be consistent with someone who would simply enter a dash once at a loss for words. Punctuation is a necessary tool for all writers to create an effect that words alone can not. In “I died for beauty,” the dashes force the reader to pause at certain moments to intensify the suspense and sheer gravitas of what is being said. For example, in the opening line “I died for Beauty—but was scarce,” there is no word that could be placed in this line to more strongly convey the narrator's death for beauty to ...
Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death” is a remarkable masterpiece that exercises thought between the known and the unknown. In Dickinson’s poem, “Because I could not stop Death,” there is much impression in the tone, in symbols and in the use of imagery that over flow with creativity. One might undoubtedly agree to an eerie, haunting, if not frightening, tone and use of symbolism in Dickinson’s poem.
Emily Dickinson became legendary for her preoccupation with death. All her poems contain stanzas focusing on loss or loneliness, but the most striking ones talk particularly about death, specifically her own death and her own afterlife. Her fascination with the morose gives her poems a rare quality, and gives us insight into a mind we know very little about. What we do know is that Dickinson’s father left her a small amount of money when she was young. This allowed her to spend her time writing and lamenting, instead of seeking out a husband or a profession. Eventually, she limited her outside activities to going to church. In her early twenties, she began prayed and worshipped on her own. This final step to total seclusion clearly fueled her obsession with death, and with investigating the idea of an afterlife. In “Because I could not stop for Death”, Dickinson rides in a carriage with the personification of Death, showing the constant presence of death in her life. Because it has become so familiar, death is no longer a frightening presence, but a comforting companion. Despite this, Dickinson is still not above fear, showing that nothing is static and even the most resolute person is truly sure of anything. This point is further proven in “I heard a Fly buzz”, where a fly disrupts the last moment of Dickinson’s life. The fly is a symbol of death, and of uncertainty, because though it represents something certain—her impending death—it flies around unsure with a “stumbling buzz”. This again illustrates the changing nature of life, and even death. “This World is not Conclusion” is Dickinson’s swan song on the subject of afterlife. She confirms all her previous statements, but in a more r...
Throughout Emily Dickinson’s poetry there is a reoccurring theme of death and immortality. The theme of death is further separated into two major categories including the curiosity Dickinson held of the process of dying and the feelings accompanied with it and the reaction to the death of a loved one. Two of Dickinson’s many poems that contain a theme of death include: “Because I Could Not Stop For Death,” and “After great pain, a formal feeling comes.”