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 portion 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 -

Notes:

Note to POL students: The inclusion or omission of the numeral in the title of the poem should not affect the accuracy score. It is optional during recitation. 

  • Emily Dickinson, “I Heard a Fly buzz—when I died” from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Copyright 1945, 1951, ©1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reprinted with the permission of The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

  • Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"Poetry Out Loud has taught me not to give up after one mistake. Or two mistakes. Or a few mistakes. It has taught me not to sell myself short, but also to love every unique perspective I come across. People, like poetry, cannot be read once and immediately
understood."
Addi Garner
2017 WA POL Champion