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

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Which poetic techniques does Dickinson use in her poem "I heard a Fly buzz —when I died?"

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In this classic poem by Emily Dickinson, the speaker is a dead person who is reflecting back on the last moments of her life and the moment of her death.  The poem uses great diction, visual and aural imagery, alliteration and other sound devices, and metaphor to convey the frustration the speaker feels about the fact that at the very moment she was ready to die, a fly came into her notice and disturbed her.

visual imagery:  that the fly "interposed . . . between the light and me."  The reader can visual the fly flying around the room.  The light could mean the light from a lamp, the light from a window, or the "light" at the end of the tunnel towards death and the afterlife.  The speaker also says that "the windows failed, and then I could not see to see."  This is visual imagery as well because the inability to see still suggests vision and darkness.

alliteration: "with blue, uncertain, stumbling, buzz"  draws attention to the noise of the fly as it  flits around the room.  This is especially emphasized by the onomatopoeia of the word buzz.

aural imagery:  (sounds) -- "the stillness in the room" in contrast to the "breathes [that] were gathering firm" also the fact that she could hear the fly buzzing, not just see it implies that sound was perhaps more annoying than its mere presence.

metaphor:  the windows are metaphorical for eyes.  The eyes fail to see once death occurs.

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[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question per posting. If you have additional questions, please post them separately.]

According to Magill’s Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition, at enotes.com, some of the literary devices Emily Dickinson employs in her poem "I heard a Fly buzz —when I died" are extremely sophisticated.

The first device used is called synesthesia. This device involves the use of one sense to describe another. For example, the breaths of the "watchers" are gathered, waiting for the last breath of the woman who lies dying:

And breaths were gathering sure

For that last onset...

The other is called paronomasia which is another term for wordplay, a complicated way to used words in both obvious and subtle ways which may only be noticed...

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