I heard a Fly buzz—when I died— by Emily Dickinson

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Please analyze the poem "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died" by Emily Dickinson.

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This excellent poem by Emily Dickinson represents another of her poems focusing on the topic of death. However, in this poem, unlike others that present death in a momentous or terrifying way, death is presented ironically, as the speaker describes her own death as others wait for death to come to her. She is giving away her last possessions when a fly moves itself to block her sight, and death claims her.

There is an intense irony between the expectations of those with the speaker, awaiting her death, and the way that death actually arrives. Note how the second stanza presents the expectation of those around:

The Eyes around--had wrung them dry--

And Breaths were gathering firm

For that last Onset--when the King

Be witnessed--in the Room--

Death is imagined to be this wonderful revelation of God, the "King" in the room itself as he comes to claim the soul of the speaker. Note the way that expectations are raised with the "Breaths" of the audience being described as "gathering firm" in eager anticipation for what is described as the "Onset." How ironic, then, that instead of a miraculous divine appearance, the last sight of the speaker is a fly--an insect that is associated with decomposing flesh--that blocks the light from the window. The move from the solemn tone that is created in the first two stanzas to the rather ironic mood of the final stanza reflects the way that Dickinson is poking fun at the supposed portentousness of death. The sheer ordinary nature of the speaker's death stands in contrast to the way that so many people expect the deathbed scene to be fraught with horror or divine revelation.

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Emily Dickinson wrote more than 500 poems on the subject of death, and this is one of her greatest.  In "I heard a Fly buzz--", as in another of her famous poems “Because I could not stop for Death,” Dickinson imagines the actual experience of death through the words of a speaker who has died.  This speaker is looking back on the moment of death and...

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