Emily Dickinson- I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died

1207 Words5 Pages
One of her poems in which romanticism stood out in was, I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died. The title may not seem very romantic to some, but what is between the lines shows that romanticism was at the center of Dickinson’s writing. She wrote this poem during the Civil War in 1862, but it was not published until 1896 in her third collection of poetry, Poems by Emily Dickinson (“I Heard a Fly Buzz—When I Died—”140). In line one; Dickinson makes it clear that the narrator of the poem is already dead and reflecting back on the experience of death. During the experience, their attention shifts from the thought of dying to the buzz of a common fly (“I Heard a Fly Buzz—When I Died—”140-141). It is clear that Dickinson used her creative imagination to create an odd twist to the story of death. Romanticism was about using one’s imagination rather than being literal and scientific. The reason Dickinson used a fly, nobody knows, but the irony in the symbol is very strange. Flies, as most people know, are an annoyance. They feast on dead flesh, which is what the speaker will soon be. The presence of the fly is a harsh reminder of the fate of the dead (“I Heard a Fly Buzz—When I Died—”139). Romanticism is defined as emotional and written works include emotional intensity. In this poem, Emily Dickinson creates just that in lines five and six, “The Eyes around—had wrung them dry— / And Breaths were gathering firm” (Dickinson 5-6). Here, Dickinson uses a metonymy, a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object, or concept for that of another to which it is related. The “Eyes” are the mourners, and “wrung them dry” is supposed to mean that they cried all the tears they possibly could. Evidently, these people are emotional due to the loss of their loved one. “Breaths were gathering firm” is another example of a metonymy. Dickinson uses “Breaths” to describe the
Open Document