Geoff Eng 219 3/4/00 The Fly and #465 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 it…
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