I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—

by Emily Dickinson
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What is the theme of "I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—"?

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Like many of Emily Dickinson's poems, "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died--" focuses on death and what may happen after a person's physical body dies.  For Dickinson, this exploration of the afterlife leads her to believe that death can potentially be a disappointment instead of something to lean toward.  For instance, there are all the trimmings of a death scene in this poem: there is a "Stillness in the Air" (l. 3) and "The Eyes around--had wrung them dry--" as the dying speaker's loved ones surround her bed, waiting for her last moments.  The speaker has "willed [her] Keepsakes--Signed away / What portion of [her] be / Assignable" (ll. 9-11), and she is looking toward the "light," toward Heaven and its angels.  However, through all of this sadness, there is the fly, an annoyance that breaks up the silence in the room and comes "Between the light--and me--" (l. 14).  By the end of the poem, instead of the speaker heading toward the light, her eyes close and she "could not see to see" (l. 16); there was nothing at the end of the speaker's life except for darkness.  This is a disappointment; most people want to think that there is something beyond this life, but Dickinson questions the validity of that claim.

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