• Annotated Full Text
  • Literary Period: Realism
  • Publication Date: 1896
  • Flesch-Kincaid Level: 6
Poetry

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died

Emily Dickinson wrote “I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -” in 1862, toward the end of the American Romantic period. The poem was not published until 1896, ten years after her death, in a collection edited by her friends Mary Loomis Todd and T. W. Higginson. In the poem, a deceased speaker reflects upon the moment of her death. The will has been signed and loved ones have cried all that they can; however, the otherwise somber event is disrupted by the buzzing of a fly that presumably waits to descend upon the corpse. Ultimately, the speaker experiences death as a simple failing of eyesight, not a moment of religious enlightenment.

  • Annotated Full Text
  • Literary Period: Realism
  • Publication Date: 1896
  • Flesch-Kincaid Level: 6