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Analysis and comments on I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died by Emily Dickinson

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Comment 29 of 209, added on October 11th, 2007 at 7:59 AM.

'Died' is not an actual reference to death. The majority of her poems are
based on love, and there are slight hints that she was not loved in return.
Death could be an exaggurated description of how she felt at this time.

Az from United States
Comment 28 of 209, added on April 3rd, 2007 at 12:33 AM.

when the narrator wills away her keepsakes she gave her soul to God, her
possessions to her loved ones and her body to be devoured by the fly. The
reason she could not "see to see" is because She was no longer able to
stare down at her dead body because she was going on to heaven and it would
be foul to watch herself be eaten by a hungrey stumbling fly!

Desiree from United States
Comment 27 of 209, added on January 15th, 2007 at 10:03 AM.

i think that dickinson choosed the word FLY as the only aspect of life ,
because when someone die there is a worms in his body this worms eat his
body then it change to another thing which is the FLY ( the PLUE FLY )
which existed in graves .
FLY is areference to death and life at the same time , it is a fly moving
and flying it is indication to life . It is a mark for death as it only
found near dead bodyes and graves. THAT IS WAT I THINK ABOUT....FLY.... ,
RAMY ,EGYPT

ramy from Egypt
Comment 26 of 209, added on May 12th, 2006 at 7:24 AM.

Emily Dickinson's viewpoint of the problem of death and dying is quite
unusual. The juxtaposition of the two elements - the time of dying and
buzzing of the fly - so trivial in the situation of death - create the
effect of grotesque. Buzzing symbolises the whole world that continues to
exist, no matter what happens to the individual.

Andrzej Samulak from Poland
Comment 25 of 209, added on April 25th, 2006 at 8:04 AM.

I find this poem stunningly immediate. It speaks in the first person, but
is clearly a curious, careful investigation by an onlooker, watching and
meditating on the process of dying and in many ways the meaning of life.

There is an eye of the storm sort of srillness in the room, and at the same
time, the stillness between the heaves of storm echoes the quietness, the
"is she dead yet" moments between the last gasps of breath.

All in the room have cried as much as they can. Their breaths are bated,
(gathered firm), and they are expecting the King. The King, maybe Christ,
maybe death, maybe God....I imagine fromwhat I have gleaned of Emily
Dickinson that the King is some combination of Death and Immortality...a
form of wonder and awe, with no particular answer intended.

The dying person has willed away keepsakes and signed away what portion of
me be assignable. I love the understatement in that. Just what portion of
me is assignable. The keepsakes I guess...what else can she own. I feel
there is a joke there, one that hinges on the majesty of the moment of the
death and loss of the body, and the understanding that said body is not
even assignable by its owner.

Dickinson is not glorifying death. In fact, at the moment when that King
might be witnessed in the room, in there comes a Fly. (The real King, I
believe) Not the carrion sucking maggot that one might imagine, (at least
not that I believe), but a Fly. Remember her poem from the Fly to the Bee,
the fly expecting him (the bee) soon since summer's on the way? This Fly
is a wonderful positive thing. The dying person sees a fly, with blue,
uncertain stumbling... And then her sight fails, but in the room there is
life. I could draw so many conclusions, but all I want to say is that I
think this is a poem of huge intellectual grasp, and marvellous emotional
peace. Emily Dickinson leads me always as far as I can go, and I know,
when I can go farther, she will be there to meet me.

Michael Brady from Canada
Comment 24 of 209, added on April 22nd, 2006 at 5:51 PM.

There have been several interpretations presented so far throughout these
comments, and I don't have anything original, unfortunately. I think it's
clear that the person telling the story of her death has known for some
time that she will be dying. "I willed my keepsakes, signed away / What
portion of me I / Could make assignable" The rest of it is up to the
interpretation of the reader. I interpreted the stillness she talks about
in the second line as the precise moment she stopped living. At this
moment, she is (ideally) supposed to cross over to eternal life with God in
heaven. She sees the light, but then she sees this fly was suddenly
"interposed" between "the light and [her]." As a few people have already
commented, Beelzebub is known as the lord of the flies and bible references
associate him with the devil. I interpreted the appearance of the fly as
her not being pure enough to make it to heaven. Instead, the fly (a symbol
for the devil) found her on her deathbed and took her soul with him into
the darkness ("and then / I could not see"). It seems that whatever sin
she had committed that condemned her to hell was relatively insignificant
because she was able to see the light before she sunk into darkness. I
think God was willing to forgiver her and receive her in heaven, but since
she was a sinner and technically belonged to the devil, he greedily
snatched her soul before she was able to enter heaven. I'm not positive on
this, but I think Emily Dickinson was not really committed to a religion
and was very curious about the possibility of heaven and hell, and I think
she expressed this in her work. Another poem of similar content is
"Because I Could not Stop for Death." It, too, is about dying and the
afterlife.

Amanda from United States
Comment 23 of 209, added on April 17th, 2006 at 2:12 AM.

This poem was around the time when it was common to believe in seeing
visions of God or Christ when at death. but instead of seeing God, the
speaker only sees a fly, which is a household pest and therefore is
negative. so maybe this poem could also be about expectations?

Elizabeth from China
Comment 22 of 209, added on April 5th, 2006 at 9:12 AM.

I don't see how this poem shows that she challenges the idea of the
existence of God, Rachel.

I appreciate how Dickinson used the 1st person narration to bring the
reader the feel of the poem, as if the reader him/herself is dying.

Whether it is literal or not, to me, doesn't matter, the point is to enjoy
it, since everyone's view of art might be slightly different, there is no
correct way of interpreting any poem.

As to how Dickinson would have interpreted the poem...only she herself
knows!

SWH from China
Comment 21 of 209, added on January 28th, 2006 at 10:05 AM.

I think Mary Gunderson said it BEST! I love it - I've always just had the
simplified view of the fly interfering with the dying "Emily" not being
able to see the "King" but her statement really opens my eyes. Thank you,
Mary!

Dan
Comment 20 of 209, added on January 13th, 2006 at 12:02 AM.

The fly represents the presence of death. THe buzz is the constant
annoyance of how death is near by. She some how knows she will die. The
eyes wrung dry means that everyone has mourned more than enough tears for
her. and she is waiting for the "king" god to appear when she dies. You can
see this because the Last- last breath, onset- beginning- beginning of new
life with god. she has willed her keepsakes- basically signed everything of
value to people around her. The fly suddenly appears- death is closer, it
is between the light and me- the fly is waiting for her to follow the
"light" and the windows failed- the storm had its last heave and her vision
was depleted for she died then and there.

Daniel from United States

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Information about I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 465. I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: 1955
Added: Jan 9 2004
Viewed: 93175 times


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