I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –


This poem—one of Dickinson’s most famous—exists in no other drafts; it is included in a in a fascicle, or hand-sewn manuscript booklet, which she probably began in the summer of 1863 and which was not discovered until after her death.


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 –

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
Poem in fascicle 26, ca. 1863
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections