I heard a Fly buzz—when I died

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I heard a Fly buzz—when I died is the informal name for an untitled poem by American author Emily Dickinson. In the poem, the narrator is on his or her deathbed, describing the progression of the narrator's death.


Close transcription[1] First published version[2]

I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm -

The Eyes around - had wrung them dry -
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - in the Room -

I willed my Keepsakes - Signed away
What portions of me be
Assignable - and then it was
There interposed a Fly -

With Blue - uncertain - stumbling Buzz -
Between the light - and me -
And then the Windows failed - and then
I could not see to see -


I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,
And breaths were gathering sure
For that last onset, when the king
Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable,– and then
There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed and then
I could not see to see.


  1. ^ Fr#591 in: Franklin, R. W., ed. The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 1999.
  2. ^ Poem IV.XLVI (page 184) in: Higginson, T. W. & Todd, Mabel Loomis, ed. Poems by Emily Dickinson: Third Series. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1896.


  • ""I heard a Fly buzz" (465)". Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  • "On 465 ("I heard a Fly buzz--when I died--")". University of Illinois. 1992. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  • "Emily Dickinson: Dying". City University of New York, Brooklyn Campus. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2012.