I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
by Emily Dickinson

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died – Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What sort of a feeling do you get when that fly shows up? Does it seem creepy, funny, annoying, or maybe something else entirely?
  2. What if it hadn’t been a fly? How would the poem change if it had started with "I saw a butterfly flap" or "I heard a pig oink?" or "I heard a weasel…" OK, we don’t actually know what weasels do, but you get the idea.
  3. Have you had any experience with death? Does this poem capture any of the weight of that experience? Based on this poem, do you feel like Dickinson had lived through this, or was just imagining it or working off something she’d read?
  4. Do you like Dickinson’s dashes? Would you cut them out of the poem if you could, or do you think they add something?
  5. This poem is very much about expectations. Have you ever expected a really big moment in your life to go one way and then had it take a weird and ridiculous turn? Was that kind of fun, or mostly just irritating?

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