While "I Am" sometimes seems all about life and existence ("I am […] I am […] I am"), it's also super-obsessed with death. Setting aside the fact that the speaker yearns for death in the last stanza, there's all that stuff about how the speaker lives surrounded by a metaphorical shipwreck where there is no "sense of life." In fact, part of the reason the speaker wants to die is because everything around is metaphorically dead (friends are "gone," sounds are just "noise"). This is a very grave poem. On the bright side, we made a pun! (Grave as in serious, grave as in graveyard—get it? Huh? Yeah!)
Questions About Death
Is the speaker's wish for death an attempt to take the easy way out, to escape from life's difficulties rather than endure them?
Would you say the speaker's friends have "killed" him in a way?
Do you think death is as peaceful as the speaker thinks it is?
If you were the speaker, would you long for death as well?
Chew on This
Don't fret. The speaker reminds us that death isn't such a bad thing. It's like sleeping like a baby.
The speaker is both alive and dead. His body and mind are still "there" but he's like a ghostly, "vapor" as well. Spooky.