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I heard a fly buzz when I died
  1. John Birtwhistle
  1. Correspondence to John Birtwhistle, birtwhistle{at}

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By Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) With comment by John Birtwhistle

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, …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Poem first published in Todd M L, ed. Poems by Emily Dickinson, (Boston: Roberts Brothers, Third Series 1896); punctuation normalized for this article.