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...

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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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Emily Dickinson has a very distinct style in most of her poems.  She uses a lot of dashes, unusual punctuation, short stanzas, dense lines, omission of unnecessary pronouns and words, and slant rhymes.  Slant rhymes are rhymes that aren't exact; they kind-of rhyme.  They aren't straight-forward rhymes, they come in more at a slant.  So, in "I Heard a Fly Buzz-When I Died", she uses this type of rhyming.  For example, look at the ends of lines 2 and 4.  They contain the words "Room" and "Storm".  While not an obvious and blatant rhyme, it is a slant rhyme; they both end in "m's" and contain "o's" for a rounded sound.  The same applies for lines 6 and 8 that end in "firm" and "room".  However, lines 14 and 16, ending in "me" and "see" are a straight-forward rhyme, not a slant rhyme.

Using slant rhymes helps the poems to have a lyrical and rhythmic feel, without being outright obvious about it.  It makes her poems very flowing and graceful without the rollicking lilt (that often sounds nursery-rhyme-ish) that full-on rhyming sometimes has.  It is a more mature, sublte, song-like quality that gives her poems soberness and layers.  In this poem, death is the subject; a woman is dying, and at the end can no longer see.  Death is a serious subject; to give the poem exact rhymes the entire time would make it seem to up-beat and bouncy.  Slant rhymes give it the same flowing quality, the same serenity, without the boisterousness.  I hope that those thoughts help!  Good luck!

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