Monday, October 13, 2014

Emily Dickinson #591, "I Heard a Fly buzz—when I died—"

I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air—
Between the Heaves of Storm— 
The Eyes around—had wrung them dry—
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset—when the King
Be witness—in the Room— 
I willed my Keepsakes—Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable—and then it was
There interposed a Fly— 
With Blue—uncertain—stumbling Buzz
Between the light—and me—
And then the Windows failed—and then
I could not see to see—
 I love Emily Dickinson, and this poem in particular. I fear this could be rather easily written off as a sort of "of course you do" statement, seeing as I am a sad boy with an over-affinity for em-dashes, but I think that even now the wight in white has a lot to offer. This poem I like particularly for how it characterized death, both in the importance we attribute to it and the reality of what it is. In this poem, the speaker is somewhat eagerly awaiting the "last Onset," or "the King," and is ready for the shining light of finality she expects to come from death. What she gets instead is a fly. Not even a particularly interesting fly—a one with "uncertain—stumbling Buzz," a fly representative of death that is tripping over itself and making a mockery of the speaker's expectations. In the saddest way possible, it's hilarious. Even further bringing dismay to the idea of this "last Onset" is the poems ending: a dash! A dash! The finality of death, indeed.

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