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I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died -- The Stillness [in the Room]1 Was like the Stillness in the Air -- Between the Heaves of Storm. The Eyes [around]2 -- had wrung them dry -- And Breaths were gathering [sure]3 For that last Onset -- when the King Be witnessed -- in [the Room]4 -- I willed my Keepsakes -- Signed away What portion of me [be Assignable -- and then it was]5 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 --
About the headline (FAQ)View original text (without footnotes)
1 some versions of the original poem have "round my form"
2 "" : "beside"
3 "" : "firm" (used by Rusche)
4 "" : "his power"
5 "" : "I / Could make assignable, -- and then"
- by Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886), no title, appears in Poems by Emily Dickinson, first published 1896 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):
- by Norman Dinerstein (b. 1937), "Dying", published 1961 [ soprano and string quartet ], from Four Settings for Soprano and String Quartet, no. 1, New York, Boosey & Hawkes [sung text not yet checked]
- by Brian Holmes (b. 1946), "I heard a fly buzz when I died" [ soprano, chorus, children's chorus, and orchestra ], from Amherst Requiem, no. 3 [sung text not yet checked]
- by Marjorie M. Rusche , "I heard a fly buzz", 1994 [ soprano, clarinet, violin, and cello ], from Songs of Love and Death, no. 5 [sung text checked 1 time]
- by Donald Ibrahim Swann (1923 - 1994), "Dying" [ voice and piano ] [sung text checked 1 time]
- by William Sydeman (b. 1928), "I heard a fly buzz when I died", published 1970 [ soprano or tenor and violoncello ], from Three Songs after Emily Dickinson [sung text not yet checked]
Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):
- GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 16
Word count: 92