I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
"I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died" isn’t a normal nature poem in any way. No fluffy clouds or bubbling streams here. But Dickinson does spend a lot of time on that fly. In a lot of ways, it’s the main symbol and one of the main characters in the poem. So in that sense, this is a poem about how humans relate to the natural world.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Do you hate bugs? Does that change the way you read the poem?
- Why is a fly the best image for this poem? What would it be like if Dickinson had picked something non-natural, like a noisy clock?
- Do you think the fly symbolizes something? Death? The Devil? Or is it just a fly, an innocent part of the natural world that happened to be in the room at the time?
Chew on This
The fly is a symbol of evil and chaos. It is one half of a subtle religious allegory in this poem, a struggle between the forces of darkness and light.