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I heard a fly buzz - when I died - by Emily Dickinson


Dickinson often speaks of death and this is one of those times. The speaker in this poem died a painless death, but what happens after is somewhat horrifying. After everyone is done mourning and her will is read, the windows no longer work and she can no longer see. It is only her and the fly.

"I heard a fly buzz - when I died -" can be interpreted in many ways, one of which is that the fly suggests decay and ready to feast off the speakers flesh. Another could be that the speaker is speaking metaphorically and the fly is simply people who wish to take advantage of her when she is down.

Johnson number: 465


I heard a fly buzz - when I died -

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.

Next: I held a Jewel in my fingers
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Literary Movement
19th Century

Animal, Nature, Death

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