Death in Dickinson's I heard a Fly Buzz When I died Essay

Death in Dickinson's I heard a Fly Buzz When I died Essay

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Death in Dickinson's I heard a fly buzz when I died

Emily Dickinson’s poem “I heard a fly buzz when I died” is a reflection on what happens when one dies. In the poem, the speaker is waiting to die. It seems as though they are expecting something spectacular to happen at the moment of their death. This spectacular event they are expecting does not happen.

I heard a fly buzz when I died
By Emily Dickinson

I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry.
And breaths were gathering sure
For that last onset, when the king
Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable,--and then
There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

The speaker describes their situation on their deathbed. The sense of stillness in the air means that the speaker thinks something important is about to happen when they die. Their mood is very solemn, and the still air brings a feeling of tension. There is not yet a mention of the afterlife, just the speaker waiting for death. The stillness is described as “between the heaves of storm,” referring to the calm that sometimes occurs between storms. This is a very quite almost peaceful stillness, but there is a sign of more things to come. In this case, death is the storm they are waiting for after the calm. The speaker is expecting a big event to happen.

As the speakers loved ones begin to mourn, there is a feeling that they too were gathering around to witness some spectacular event that would ...


... middle of paper ...


...There is no large flash of light, no loud noises, just the simple buzzing of a fly. Seeing death as a natural passing places man back in nature. There is no amazing flash of light, or deafening noise, or grand revelation. The choice of a fly as the interrupting entity reinforces the anti-climactic nature of death. Man passes into death the same as anything else in nature. The “blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz” of the fly implies that not even the buzz of the fly was meant to recognize the death of the speaker. The fly buzzes by because that is the nature of the fly. It did not stop its life for the death of the speaker. This can be seen as nature (the fly) realizing that death is not some incredible event, but a natural passing. Nature moves on, accepting the dead back into the earth. This reinforces that death, even the death of a human, is a simple passing.

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