Emily Dickinson was born December 10, 1830 in Massachusetts. As she grew up, she surrounded herself with very few people and seldom left her house. By the1860s, she had completely isolated herself from the outside world. This had a huge impact on her poetry and career. Some of her poetry was based around her fascination with death and skeptical thoughts of immortality. This is where “I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died” fit into Dickinson’s odd personality. Even though the poem’s title sounds straight forward, there were many debates and disagreements over the true meaning behind it. The way this poem is portrayed by Dickinson, lends too many different ways one may interpret it. Dickinson uses mechanics and other poetic elements to convey the themes of death and private vs public life.
Dickinson uses mechanics to allow the ideas and themes of “I Heard a Fly Buzz-When I Died” to come together making the poem complete. It is written in four stanzas each containing four lines. Dickinson also uses an ABCB rhyme scheme. For example lines fourteen and fifteen rhyme, with the endings of “me” and “see”. Dickinson uses perfect iambic meter to keep the rhythm of the poem. Iambic meter means that the lines are each divided into syllable groups of two, and emphasizes the second syllable. Also, Dickinson uses strange capitalization throughout the poem (Kellman Steven 621). For example, in line 1-2 “I heard a Fly buzz- when I died- the Stillness in the Room,” the words Fly, Stillness, and Room are all capitalized in the middle of the sentence. The strange capitalization brings emphasis on random words thought out the poem. Plus Dickinson uses inexact rhyme or slant rhyme in the poem, with words like room and storm. Lastly, Dickinson uses unusual punctuation in the poem using dashes at both the end of the lines and between phases. This shows Dickinson cannot follow the standard rules of grammar (Poetry for Students 143). The first stanza of the poem shows all of the grammatical irregulars Dickinson uses,
“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-,”
However Dickinson can not only use mechanics, she also uses diction and figurative language to build the poem.
Poetic diction is the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing. Dickinson uses tons of alliteration in this poem. Line thirteen states, “With Blue- uncertain stumbling Buzz-,” line thirteen puts emphasis on the syllable B. Alliteration is the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. Also in line thirteen, assonance is used with the repetition of the vowel U. Assonance is the repetition of the sound of a vowel in poetry. In “I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died,” Dickinson also uses figurative language to add depth to the meaning on the poem. In line three, “the Stillness in the Air-/” is used as a metaphor. Symbolizing what is known as the center or eye of a...