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

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Comment 10 of 610, added on April 27th, 2005 at 4:40 PM.

Okay, in regard to the fly being the devil, i agree. actually the
translation of the word "Beelzebub" is lord of the flies, however,
beelzebub in the bible is the devil. Flies are commonly used as evil
beings in some literature. also, i thougt maybe what she is trying to say
is even the smallest sin can send you to hell. The fly is small and you
wouldn't think a fly could stop you from going to heaven just as you
wouldn't think a small sin would. Just a Thought!!

nikki from United States
Comment 9 of 610, added on April 13th, 2005 at 7:49 PM.

When it says "there interposed a Fly" and one line down it says "Between
the light --and me-- An then the Window failed--and then I could not see to
see--" It made me think that the fly held her back from going to heaven
"between the light". So the king(Christ/God) did come to take her away to
heaven I think. So the fly was maybe the devil in my opinion and did not
let her go, but instead brought her down into darnkess "I could not see to
see" I could be very wrong but that kidna cought my eye.

RT from United States
Comment 8 of 610, added on April 3rd, 2005 at 4:32 PM.

beautifully ironic and dark

Comment 7 of 610, added on March 26th, 2005 at 8:33 PM.

I think that she imagines as a fly a the re-incarnation. in the quotes "The
eyes around had wrung them dry-" "For that last Onset when the King"
may the people are in the room waiting for the king (death).

Rosalia from United States
Comment 6 of 610, added on February 1st, 2005 at 2:00 PM.

Emily Dickenson was tripping on acid

Barnaby Lancaster from United States
Comment 5 of 610, added on January 24th, 2005 at 4:32 PM.

This was a rather grim poem. I feel the message in this poem is that there
is no "afterlife" after death. The "King" never comes instead the dead
person sees the fly which becomes a symbol for decay. Perhaps that is all
there is to our deaths, we will all rot away into nothingless by the fly...

Leungo88 from Ireland
Comment 4 of 610, added on November 12th, 2004 at 12:46 PM.

I thought this was a very touching poem it screams it screams it screams be
thankful that you lived to se another day charish your family members while
you got them because once death comed aint no stoppin um. they are just
going to take you away i often wonder what are the last things i would hear
when i am on my death bed.Will it be in my sleep or the pain will i fill?I
often wonder. I lOVE POETRY

Dametria Anderson LSH from United States
Comment 3 of 610, added on November 12th, 2004 at 12:33 PM.

it was sad, it was a sad poem. it made me cry it was a sad poem

Shalitha from United States
Comment 2 of 610, added on October 26th, 2004 at 6:10 PM.

your poem is very intersting to read how most people feel when they are
alone and think there isnt anything better to do in life but stay there and

Sydeny Hamlet from United States
Comment 1 of 610, added on October 14th, 2004 at 5:24 AM.

The death in this poem is painless, yet the vision of death it presents is
horrifying, even gruesome. The appearance of an ordinary, insignificant fly
at the climax of a life at first merely startles and disconcerts us. But by
the end of the poem, the fly has acquired dreadful meaning. Clearly, the
central image is the fly. It makes a literal appearance in three of the
four stanzas and is what the speaker experiences in dying.

The room is silent except for the fly. The poem describes a lull between
"heaves," suggesting that upheaval preceded this moment and that more
upheaval will follow. It is a moment of expectation, of waiting. There is
"stillness in the air," and the watchers of her dying are silent. And still
the only sound is the fly's buzzing. The speaker's tone is calm, even flat;
her narrative is concise and factual.

The people witnessing the death have exhausted their grief (their eyes are
"wrung dry" of tears). Her breathing indicates that "that last onset" or
death is about to happen. "Last onset" is an oxymoron; "onset" means a
beginning, and "last" means an end. For Christians, death is the beginning
of eternal life. Death brings revelation, when God or the nature of
eternity becomes known. This is why "the king / Be witnessed in his power."
The king may be God, Christ, or death; think about which reading you prefer
and why.

She is ready to die; she has cut her attachments to this world (given away
"my keepsakes") and anticipates death and its revelation. Are the witnesses
also waiting for a revelation through her death? Ironically the fly, not
the hoped-for king of might and glory, appears. The crux of this poem lies
in the way you interpret this discrepancy. Since the king is expected and
the fly appears, are they to be associated? If the fly indicates the
meaning of death, what is that meaning?

Does the fly suggest any realities of death--smell, decay? Flies do, after
all, feed on carrion (dead flesh). Does this association suggest anything
about the dying woman's vision of death? or the observers' vision? Is she--
are they--seeing the future as physical decay only? Does the fly's
fulfilling their expectations indicate that death has no spiritual
significance, that there is no eternity or immortality for us? There are
other interpretations of the fly. The fly may stand for Beelzebub, who is
also known as lord of the flies. Sometimes Beelzebub is used as another
name for Satan; sometimes it refers to any devil; in Milton's Paradise
Lost, Beelzebub is Satan's chief lieutenant in hell. If the King whom the
observers and/or the speaker is waiting for turns out to be the devil, is
there still irony? How is the meaning of the poem affected by this reading?
For example, does the poem become more cheerful? What would Dickinson be
saying about eternity? Can the poem support more than one of these
interpretations of the fly?

What is the effect of the fly being the only sign of life ("buzz") at the
end of the poem? To extend this question, is it significant that the only
sign of vitality and aliveness in the entire poem is the fly?

For literal-minded readers, a dead narrator speaking about her death
presents a problem, perhaps an unsurmountable problem. How can a dead woman
be speaking? Less literal readers may face appalling possibilities. If the
dead woman can still speak, does this mean that dying is perpetual and
continuous? Or is immortality a state of consciousness in an eternal

"I heard a fly buzz when I died" is one of Emily Dickinson's finest opening
lines. It effectively juxtaposes the trivial and the momentous; the
movement from one to the other is so swift and so understated and the
meaning so significant that the effect is like a blow to an emotional solar
plexus (solar plexus: pit of the stomach). Some readers find it misleading
because the first clause ("I heard a fly buzz") does not prepare for the
second clause ("when I died"). Is the dying woman or are the witnesses
misled about death? does the line parallel their experience and so the
meaning of the poem?

conal from Ireland

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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: 94675 times

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