Subject I heard a Fly buzz-when I died
Posted by Nicola
Posted on Mon Nov 16 23:03:34 1998
From IP  

(All "him, his, he" in the following article means both sexes.)

This poem suggests an idea that what might happen in the moment just before you die. The first stanza: 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-
Because the room is still and quite, it gave us a feeling of something serious is going to happen. Also, the buzzes of a fly can be heard clearly only under this rather strangely quiet situation. The speaker uses this simile -the storm- to make us readers imagine how still, quiet and peaceful the room is, because there is a saying, " the night before the storm is usually strangely calm". Also, because the speaker is going to die, he uses "the Heaves of Storm" to indicate that something dreadful is going to happen.
The second stanza: The Eyes around -had wrung them dry-
And Breaths were gathering firm
For the last Onset-when the King
Be witnessed -in the Room-
It describes the environment where all the speaker's relatives and friends came standing around him to accompany him on his last few breaths left. They were all looking at the speaker, with their eyes that are so dry because they had all shed all their tears and there is no more to be able to come out now. Everyone is holding breaths; no one dared to make any sound that might interrupt the speaker. As I have read on the internet, many suppose that the "King" might be someone like the God, Jesus, or anyone who acts as someone taking the dead away in a religion. Or, like I have seen it in many films, the souls of the dead would arise from his body and he would float around the room watching what the people are doing about him. I guess I agree with the latter, which the speaker is the king watching other people crying for him, also, the speaker is watching the process of his death.
The third stanza: I willed my Keepsakes-Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable-and then it was
There interposed a Fly-
It told us that the speaker knew already that he is going to die soon. Therefore, he wrote a will and, wanting to still be helpful to others after his death, he gave away his properties and personal belonging. Because this poem was wrote in 1862, I am not sure whether they have this concept of donating organs after death or not, so I think that mostly it is the properties that were being assigned out. Slowly, the speaker is approaching death. I assume that before your death, you don't have much sense to feel what is happening around you, and at this time, a fly happened to be flying near the speaker, so that was what he could most obviously notice.
The fourth stanza: With Blue-uncertain stumbling Buzz-
Between the light -and me-
And then the Windows failed -and then
I could not see to see-
All these four lines gives us a clear description of how dose it feel a few seconds before your life ended. Firstly, listening ability went out of use, as the line goes, "uncertain stumbling Buzz", so the speaker could not hear clearly. Then, eyesight begins to fade too, now the speaker can only see the light, feel himself, and nothing more. Then his eyelid shut. (Windows are often similes of our eyes, for eyes are the windows of the souls.) . She could see nothing now, and as she lost her last sense, she stepped into the other world of death.
This poem gives me one version of how is it like before dying. The other I heard about is that before you die, often in a struggling situation, your minds reflects back all those you loved, and those who were important to you. I guess the poet must have many similar experiences as on the edge of dying to write this kind of poem so clearly described.

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