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I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

by Emily Dickinson

Spirituality Theme

Spirituality is another theme that’s lurking around the edges. "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died" deals with death and what comes after, and the speaker herself is dead. Because of that, we pretty much need some spiritual framework to deal with what’s going on here. Dickinson doesn’t come out and say what happens after death, but with all this talk about the King, and the final Onset, and so forth, it definitely has to be on our minds.

Questions About Spirituality

  1. Does this feel like a religious poem to you? Do you think the speaker’s attitude toward death in this poem would have shocked religious people in her day?
  2. Can you imagine an afterlife? Does it sound like what is being described here?
  3. Who do you think "the King" is? Does that seem like a spiritual or religious reference?

Chew on This

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

The King is a direct reference to God. In this poem, the image of his final arrival is contrasted with the dirty, evil image of the fly, which represents the misery of human life.

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