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By Emily Dickinson

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)

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Poet Bio

The famous hermit from Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson published only eight poems during her lifetime. Today her nearly 2,000 succinct, profound meditations on life and death, nature, love, and art make her one of the most original and important poets in English.

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