What poetic techniques Dickinson uses in her poem " I heard a Fly buzz -when I died- ?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like the buzzing of a fly, the rhythm of Emily Dickinson's poem, "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died--" is interrupted by dashes.  In this poem, Dickinson uses her formal pattern of iambic tetrameter and trimeter.  Each stanza has an abab pattern; the first three stanzas are written in half rhymes [e.g. Room/Storm, firm/Room, be/Fly] while the final stanza is written in full rhyme with me/see. With the half rhyme and dashes, there is a sense of incompletion, while only in the last stanza with the death of the speaker is there completion.

In this deathbed scene, another of the images of domestic life about which Dickinson writes, the fly intrudes at the most poignant of all human occurrences.  At the last moment of death as the speaker wishes to be spiritually prepared for her death, "when the King/Be witnessed--in the Room--" instead the fly, a metaphor for the intrusion of something so trivial and annoying, interrupts her final moments as she "could not see to see--" and the solemn moments of the onlookers, characterized by synedoche [Eyes, Breaths] who "were gathering firm" are interrupted as well. 

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I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—

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