I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died Analysis | Line by Line

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died Analysis

Emily Dickinson does not need any special introduction. She is famous for writing poems with the theme of death as she falls in the group of those poets, who broke the convention. She should be remembered as a modern poet because of the techniques, writing styles and themes that she uses in her poetry. It is one of the major characteristics of her poetry that she writes poems on the theme of death as transparent from in depth analysis of her poem “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” as well as “Because I could not Stop for Death”; however, it does not mean that she uses death and regression as only themes of poems. She also writes optimistic poems, the most famous example of which is “Hope is the thing with Feathers”; however, many poems of Emily Dickinson contain ambiguous themes.

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died Analysis | Line by Line

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died Analysis

The poem consists of four stanzas. As usual, each stanza contains four lines with more dashes than any other punctuation mark. Random capital words between the sentences are also there to emphasize something. The poem was written in 1862. It was untitled, hence, the first line of the poem becomes its title. It is better if readers first read her previous poem “Because I could not Stop for Death” as it seems its continuation. In that poem, she manifests her trip from mortality to immortality but in this poem she talks about what she sees after reaching the next world. Needless to mention that from these two poems, readers realize the strong belief of the poet in the afterlife.

Stanza-I Analysis of I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died

The poet starts with imagery of a fly that appeals to the hearing sense. Word “died” at the end of the first line of the poem means that the speaker has already died. She uses a singular first-person pronoun, which the readers would certainly imagine that she is the poet herself. She tells the readers that she hears a fly buzz. “Fly buzz” has a certain meaning in this particular situation that the poet has just created. In the next line of the poem, she uses the word “Stillness”, which means that when she dies there is silence in the room; so much silence that she can hear a fly buzz. Another meaning of this is that she uses it symbolically to express the final words of a person who declares someone dead. There is a probability that she uses this word symbolically.

Deeper analysis of the first line of the poem “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” is that she listens to the words of the person who has declared her dead, hence, the poem starts when the speaker has already died. In the second line of the poem, the poet further elaborates the situation. The poet creates a dreadful atmosphere. Everyone has almost experienced “stillness” due to the death of a person; it may be in a room, in life or at graveyards. The poet talks about the rituals and ceremonies when a person reaches the death bed.

Last two lines of this stanza are placed close together with a contrasting effect. Firstly, the poet says that there is such stillness in the room as in the air; secondly, the stillness is due to the storm that the dead person and his near and dear ones are going to experience; the poet uses the word “storm” to predict the future worries of these persons. On the opposite, it also means that the poet talks about the stillness of air between the storm. Either she talks about the stillness that always remains there before the storm or about the calmness that remains between the storm. She uses a poetic device simile in this stanza “Was like the Stillness in the air”.

Stanza-II Analysis of I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died

Ambiguity is also another major characteristic of Emily Dickinson poetry. In fact, every modern poet whether he is British or American uses ambiguous themes. In this poem too, themes are very ambiguous, hence, symbolism is the only technique through which we can understand themes of the poem. Apparently, the poem “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” seems that it is about how the day passes on the death of a person but deep analysis of this poem clears us that the poet talks about the feelings of a person at the time when he meets death.

In this stanza, the poet let her readers focus on the people that remains stood around the dead body. It is sure that people weep; some of them even cry. It is a procedure rather natural phenomenon that is there at every corner of the world; however, no one has thought about it the way the poet has told it in this poem. The poet never believed in worldly love in her lifetime; however, her belief in God and afterlife was too strong, hence, she talks about God’s love. According to her, when a person dies, he meets God.

The poet creates a situation in this poem. She shows that a person, whom we assume is the poet, dies; she is in a room and God comes in that room to meet her. The poet uses a poetic device allusion and refers to God while using the word “King”. If it is not an allusion then it must be a personification. She may have assigned qualities of a king to death. From the analysis of this stanza, we also witness coherence in “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” like other poems of Emily Dickinson.

Stanza-III Analysis

She further sheds light on her dream; it is not possible for a person to witness death and then return so that he may elaborate his experience in the form of a poem, hence, it seems that the poet has seen a nightmare. Nevertheless, she signs her final will. Undoubtedly, there is universality in the poem but at the same time it is also about the norms of Dickinson’s times with addition of individuality of the poet. She willingly is ready to leave everything. Even otherwise, she has no other choice. In this stanza, we witness religion and materialism as another theme of the poem. A person dies but he cannot take anything with him from this world.

It is the strong belief of most of the religions in the world that when a person dies he takes only his deeds with him and worldly wealth has no value after death. “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” analysis reveals that perhaps the poet wants to draw the attention of her readers towards this specific belief. Nonetheless, in the process of leaving everything behind, a fly interrupts the poet and the poet stops telling more about it. “Fly” in the last line of this stanza indicates the last vision of the poet that she sees before entering into the afterlife.

Stanza-IV Analysis

Fly plays an important role in the whole poem. Firstly, the poet uses its buzz as a symbol of final words that a person listens to soon after his death; secondly, she uses it for a symbol of last vision and distraction; finally, she uses this creature for symbolically referring to the doubts. The poet defines the color of bug; blue. It seems that she uses this color to express freedom that the soul feels after leaving the body. As mentioned earlier, it may be a dream of the poem; therefore, the fly may have just been used as an interruption from the nightmare that the poet sees.

If we do an in depth analysis of the fly and consider it as spiritual doubts then it is apparent that the poet wants to express in her poem “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” that no one knows what is going to happen after death. The poet is also uncertain about it. She just imagines a situation and writes a poem from her imagination. She herself is not sure that the things she has told are going to happen or not. Emily Dickinson has shown death as a mysterious force in this poem, about which no one knows anything because the one who experiences it never returns to tell his story.

The poem ends with an expression of the main theme that “I could not see to see”. The poet finally concedes that she herself is unaware about the disasters that she is going to experience after her death. At last but not the least, deep analysis of “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” clears that the poet talks about the feelings of a person at the time when he meets death.