top-rated free essay

Emily Dickinson in Her Poem #465

By ninujose Dec 11, 2010 964 Words
Emily Dickinson in her poem #465, covers the subject of death in a way that I have not seen before. She delves right into the last sounds she heard when the narrator died, which was a fly buzzing. The last actions of this world are concluded by the assigning of "keepsakes", the last few tears while waiting "the King". And now, in the midst of this silence, Emily chooses to introduce the buzzing of a fly. This common household pest's incessant buzz becomes all the dying can hear. The fly is a significant part of the poem and in this essay, I will give examples as to why and how. I think the fly has special significance in the poem. Beelzebub was often portrayed as a fly: Lord of the Flies, and there is a strange tone about this poem, as though the dying person is a controller, an organizer, a cold person in fact, her last steps towards death were so calculated, “The Eyes around-had wrung them dry-/And Breaths were Gathering firm/ for the last Onset-when the King/Be witnessed-in the Room.”(ln 5-8). She is waiting for King (God) to come and take her to the after life. She has calculated death, then this pest “interposes” itself , “Between the light and me”(ln14) her peaceful transition to heaven was interrupted. The fly suddenly opens up the possibility that all is not about to proceed as expected, even after death. And the fact that this is also a posthumously written poem, “when I died,”(ln 1) suggests that there's some cause for the dying person not to be resting peacefully in heaven. Something went wrong, something “interposed” between 'the light' (a symbol of heaven) and herself. More than anything this poem is about the uninvited in our lives, it also has echoes of 'the fly in the Vaseline', the thing that always goes wrong. The death is planned out, the will is taken care of, and then the nasty fly joins her and destroys her peaceful death with its bothersome buzz. That buzz could be the unconfessed sins she hidden from god, but what ever it is, it has a profound affect on her afterlife by leaving her with this incessant buzzing. The room of the dying is haunted by an uncomfortable, daunting "Silence". The comparison of this quiet to the "the stillness in the Air between the heaves of storm"(ln4)

intensifies the feeling of anticipation for some frightening event. If you are out jogging in the summer and you start to see dark storm clouds looming overhead, there is a panic that comes, you could get caught in the storm. The clouds as beautiful as they may seem while inside, as soon as the storm begins, they let loose their power. I think the implied author is entering, in imagination; the very moment of death here is darkness itself. Which is why this poem is, for me, so chilling. So many of the poems insist on a life after death, a spiritual reawakening. But this poem ends on a note of obliteration and overwhelming darkness, accompanied only by the sound of the buzzing. The fly is also a symbol of decay and dissolution, and even of disease, and contamination. It's a brilliant idea, a common household pest, and also a powerful symbol of evil, uninvited and distracting. This image of distraction is particularly noticeable, especially on first reading the poem. Everything's going so much according to plan it's as though these people are on a stage reading their script, going through pre-conceived motions. And then suddenly there's the gatecrasher, the thing outside the script that completely distracts the dying person, and threatens to rob her of her moment of vision.... "And then the Windows failed - and then/ I could not see to see -" (ln 15) makes it doubly clear that the moment of vision (windows/eyes failing) has been stolen from her and that, in effect, the fly has won by becoming the very last thing the speaker hears, and imagines - I think the fact that she sees it as “Blue is not because she can see it but because she is imagining it. The irritation the fly introduces to the scene also becomes her final experience of life, a perfect example of how something so ordinary, even trivial, can loom so terribly large it can overwhelm and completely blot out the spirituality. I somehow feel that when Emily Dickinson wrote this poem, she was in pessimistic mood, maybe even doubting the faith that normally sustained her. The language in the poem, though wonderfully precise and startlingly original, seems to me less important for a reader than the message' of the poem, which can be taken as a wry comment on how everything, even the privacy of death, can be ruined by the commonest thing, or as something as darkly symbolic as a vision of hell itself. It leads us to the unknown but then gently lets us down, refusing to give us the knowledge we want. The narrator, being no longer of this earth, cannot view what is to come through their earthly "windows". There is an implied argument that Dickinson wrote with an audience in mind, that she deliberately kept the ending open so as not to alienate her readers. The fact that much of the poem's power comes from such an open ending is, I believe, almost incidental. The whole point about the next life is that we do not know and cannot know what it is like or even if it exists. And that's what makes life so interesting. Think how boring it would be if we actually knew all the answers!

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Emily Dickinson Comparative Poems

    ...Questioning Faith: Emily Dickinson’s Struggle with Religion Through her Poetry Emily Dickinson was a religious person, but she always questioned faith and religion in her poetry. She seems to not take a solid stance in the debate between science and faith. However, Dickinson seemed to particularly struggle with the idea of “faith” and wh...

    Read More
  • Emily Dickinson Poem Analysis

    ...Last Night that She Lived, by Emily Dickinson. The message in this poem is we take life for granted and we don't appreciate it until we are threatened with losing it. Emily used what seems to me as free verse with no apparent rhyme but alliteration at times. This is a Narrative poem that tells a story about a death of a young woman. In th...

    Read More
  • Poems by Emily Dickinson: An Overview

    ...Poems by Emily Dickinson commonly include a light airy atmosphere. She stresses the magical, down-to-earth, genuinely nice feeling a book can give a person. Even as most of the poems were created out of spontaneity, most of her works are meant to serve a concentrated purpose. Two of her poems, “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church” and “T...

    Read More
  • Will There Be a Morning? Poem by Emily Dickinson

    ...questions in complete sentences. (15 points) Who is the speaker in the poem? Please write a complete sentence and provide a quote to support your answer. I would say the speaker is either a really young child since she/he didn't mention the sun which is where light comes from which we humans call morning and day, Or she is an older wise wom...

    Read More
  • Success Poem by Emily Dickinson

    ...Success Poem by Emily Dickinson Thesis In Emily Dickinson, ‘success is counted sweetest’ the idea of not having something increases our appreciation of what we do not have. This poem is more of a lyric poem since it typically expresses the personal feelings. It has a specific rhyming scheme and it depends on a regular meter based syllables...

    Read More
  • Emily Dickinson and Her Social Seclusion

    ...Dickinson’s I Dwell in Possibility is one great example of how the poet transforms finite to infinite through the imaginative world of poetry. Through the use of metaphors, Dickinson has shown how domestic images such as house, chambers, roof, doors and windows can be extended to infinite imaginations in the poetic world. The “fairer House...

    Read More
  • Analysis of Poem 305 by Emily Dickinson

    ...Love Emily Dickinson Poem #305 The difference between Despair And Fear—is like the One Between the instant of a Wreck And when the Wreck has been— The Mind is smooth—no Motion— Contented as the Eye Upon the Forehead of a Bust— That knows—it cannot see— Dickinson's poetic accomplishment was recognized during her ...

    Read More
  • A Comparison of Two Poems by Emily Dickinson

    ...TIME AND ETERNITY IN EMILY DICKINSON'S POEMS 906 and 624. Once we endeavor to examine the concept of time we have to do it close enough to the concept of eternity. When speaking of eternity Dickinson often uses the circumference – the circle image. Time flees so vast that were it not For...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.