"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
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - 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 -"
Often, readers think of "I heard a Fly buzz" as one of Dickinson's darker poems. Like much of her writing, it confronts the "stillness" and visceral grief of death directly. But unlike her poems that wrestle with similar themes, there is hope in "I heard a fly buzz." A continuing on. The speaker is recounting her death retrospectively, after all, continuing to "buzz" persistently, even after "the Windows" fail. It is through poetry and her "Keepsakes" - those nearly 1,800 poems that were found in her bureau days after her death - that the poet lives on.
On the anniversary of Emily Dickinson's death, we are more aware than ever of the importance of carrying Dickinson's powerful poetic voice into the future. Through preservation efforts, programs that connect enthusiasts with her work, and opportunities to inspire a new generation of poets and artists, we strive to celebrate Dickinson every day. Today, we hope that you will join us in doing the same.
(Fr591A - "I heard a fly buzz when I died")