#465 (I heard a Fly buzz — when I died —) – Emily Dickinson

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read by Kay Ryan. audio from Poetry Out Load

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—

3 thoughts on “#465 (I heard a Fly buzz — when I died —) – Emily Dickinson

  1. admin Post author

    note – there have been a number of editions of Dickinson’s poetry published, and some debate on how to publish her poetry (free of editorial interference and adhering to her stylistic choices). Kay Ryan seems to be reading from an earlier printed edition – and there are some notable differences with the above text. The edition Ryan reads from is enclosed below. Any thoughts on the changes?


    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.

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