Emily Dickenson’s PoemI heard a Fly Buzz When I Died

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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.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how dickenson uses clever diction to draw more emotion out of the reader than just that of someone dying.
  • Analyzes how dickenson uses imagery and the action of seeing to paint a vivid image of how the narrator is dying.
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