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The death in Emily Dickinson's poem "I heard a Fly buzz-when I died" is painless but striking.

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Introduction

The death in Emily Dickinson's poem "I heard a Fly buzz-when I died" is painless but striking. The appearance of the fly is startling at first because it is unexpected. The setting of the poem is the speaker's death bed, what is an ordinary fly doing there? Obviously the speaker is waiting to die, she (if I may give the speaker a gender) has "willed my Keepsakes-Signed away What portion of me be Assignable-". [lines 9-11] She appears to have accepted her death but is waiting for something amazing to happen. The room is quiet but with a sense of anticipation "The Stillness in the Room Was like the Stillness in the Air-Between the Heaves of Storm-". There is a peaceful atmosphere yet death is the storm to come. The reader senses that the speaker and mourners are expecting some spectacular event at the moment of her death. "The Eyes around-had wrung them dry-And Breaths were gathering firm For that last Onset-when the King Be witnessed-in the Room-". [lines 5-8] This stanza suggests that the mourners have ceased crying and were now waiting to witness something incredible when the speaker dies. "Last onset" is an oxymoron; "onset" means a beginning, and "last" means an end. For Christians, death is the beginning of eternal life, death brings revelation, when God or the nature of eternity becomes known. ...read more.

Middle

The carriage ride is slow, giving the speaker ample time to adjust to her death. After passing the children, the fields of grain, and the setting sun, the carriage passes a house. "We slowly drove-He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility-". [lines 5-8] The speaker envisions Death as a person she trusted or believed that she could trust. Clearly there has been no deception on his part. They drive in a leisurely manner, and she feels completely at ease. She is therefore quite willing to put aside her work. "We paused before a House that seemed A swelling of the Ground-The Roof was scarcely visible-The Cornice-in the Ground-" [lines 17-20] The description of the house that seemed to protrude out of the ground, the roof "scarcely visible", brings to mind a grave sinking into the earth. The last stanza suggests the speaker is remembering the ride centuries later. "Since then-'t is centuries-and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity." [lines 21-24] She recalls the drive in vivid detail although it occurred long ago. The moment she realized the horses were carrying her toward "eternity" is fresh in her mind as if it happened yesterday. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is the final stop on the speakers road to madness, her mind has completely snapped. This poem describes a persons journey through a mental breakdown. The speaker is both observer of the funeral and participant, indicating that the Self is divided, by the end of the poem, the Self has shattered into pieces. These three poems have one obvious theme in common, death. "I heard a Fly buzz-when I died" examines the nature of death, what people expect to encounter when they die. Human beings believe we are special, superior to the other animals and that our deaths should be treated with more reverence. We forget that humans are animals and we are all a part of the same family. Our deaths are no more or less significant than the other animals. Death is natural. "Because I could not stop for Death" teaches us that death is not to be feared, it is not an end to life but the beginning of a new journey. Death should not be sought after but neither should it be something to afraid of. In "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" is a little different. While it portrays a persons mental collapse, it also shows that the death of the mind or sanity is nothing to fear. Once you pass that breakdown, get through the madness, your mind is free. Only by giving in to it can you truly be sane. ...read more.

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