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I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

by Emily Dickinson

Man and the Natural World Theme

"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

  1. Do you hate bugs? Does that change the way you read the poem?
  2. 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?
  3. 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

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

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.

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