I Heard a Fly Buzz

by Emily Dickinson

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

The Eyes around had wrung them dry
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset when the King
Be witnessed in the Room

I willed Keepsakes Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable and then it was
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

 

 


Title:

I Heard a Fly Buzz

Poet:

Dickinson, Emily

Year of Publication:

1890

Age Appropriate:

15+

Notes:

Death

Category:

Sequence of dying

Form:

Quatrain

Type:

Lyric

Meter:

Irregular

Rhyme:

Irregular

Literary Period:

American Romanticism

Things to Discuss:

What might words like “King” “heaves of storm” refer to? Which quatrain is not open to speculation the meaning is quite clear?

About the Poem:

In some ways it is typical Dickensonian poetry: use of quatrain, simple, abbreviated language; familiar words most of which do not rhyme and appear in unusual contexts. The metrical foot alternates between iambic tetrameter (first and third lines); iambic trimester (second and fourth). There is no sequence as the opening line is a final statement as is the last line. The word “blue” and its context is up to the reader; color and sight imagery? Trivial?

About the Poet:

Emily Dickenson (1830-1886) suffered most of her adult life of an unknown eye affliction which forced her to live in Cambridge where she received treatment. Some strange behaviors: she was a recluse and took to wearing only white.