Discuss the rhymes in the Emily Dickinson poem "I Heard a Fly Buzz-When I Died". Does the poem employ exact rhymes or approximate rhymes? How do the kind and pattern of rhyme contribute to the poem's effect?

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Dickinson uses regular and irregular—or, more specifically, slant—rhyme in this poem. In Dickinson's slant rhyme, two words end with the same consonant, but the vowels before the consonant don't rhyme.

We can see this in the first two stanza of this poem: "room" and "storm" end with "m," but the "oo" and "or" sounds don't rhyme. Likewise, in stanza two, "firm" and "room" follow the same slant-rhyme pattern as the first stanza. In the third stanza, the rhyme is not slant, but "be" and "fly" don't precisely rhyme. Only in the last stanza do the end words of the second and fourth lines—"me" and "see"—rhyme completely.

The uncertainty of the rhyme underlines the poem's theme that death is uncertain and surprising. Like the rhyme scheme, death does not exactly follow expected patterns.

For the first few stanzas, everything is proceeding as expected. The family has gathered around the deathbed. They have stopped crying and are stoically awaiting the death. The dying person has signed her...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 683 words.)

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