I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
by Emily Dickinson
Since this speaker is talking about the moment when she (or he) died, it seems safe to assume that she is some kind of ghost or spirit. We think that the way she talks really drives this home. Do you hear any emotion in these lines? If you were facing death, you might feel angry, sad, frustrated, hopeful, at peace, but we bet you’d feel something. This ghostly speaker seems to be past all that, somehow. She describes the scene as if she was floating above it, looking down on it from a great distance. She notices that other people have been crying (line 5), but she doesn’t tell us if she felt bad, or feels bad now.
When the fly appears, it seems like it should be a big moment. The speaker doesn’t say so, though. She describes the fly, tells us it was there, but doesn’t seem grossed out, or annoyed, or really anything. The tone of the poem is calm, dreamy, almost completely relaxed, as if the speaker was floating away. We think that tone makes her sound just like a ghost, and it makes this poem story even spookier.