I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
by Emily Dickinson
Analysis: Sound Check
We think this poem’s sound is ruled by those little dashes. We get bursts of sound, then a pause, then another burst. It’s like listening to someone flipping through stations on a radio. You hear a quick flash of something, a tantalizing little bit of music. Then a moment of silence, then something else flashes by. These lines are beautiful and carefully crafted, like a great song. But Dickinson chopped them up, added these little marks to break up their flow. We can catch an image and recognize it, like you do when you hear a piece of a song. We can’t really hold onto it, though, because she snatches it away. The poem breaks up with a dash, and then it’s onto the next image, almost like she was impatiently looking for a new and better song.