Emily Dickinson poetry can be seen as a study of deep fears and emotions, specifically In her exploration of death. In her famous poem #465 Dickinson explores the possibility of a life without the elaborate, finished ending that her religious upbringing promised her. She forces herself to question whether there is a possibility of death being a mundane nothingness. In this last moment of doubt in the appearance of the divine, the speaker in the poem find an independent and personal acceptance of a death without profundity or salvation.
The speaker of the poem Is dying, and It Is possible to Infer that her Journey toward death has been a longer one. The family and friends surrounding her In the room because “the eyes beside had wrung them dry, and breaths were gathering sure. ” The people in the room have cried all there tears, and are confidant that their friend or family member (the speaker) is going to a better place.
However, the narrator does not share with them this feeling of calm and assurance, as she waits for the “King” or godlike figure to be witnessed near her deathbed, the mundane presence of a fly buzzing In the room makes her doubt the sanctity and religious significance of her experience. The fly and the king become polarize images. The fly, representing the mundane, is keeping the speaker firmly on earth, preventing the epiphany that some sort of holy or religious appearance (the King, for instance) would bring. Other polarize images presented In this first stanza are the stillness of alarm between the heaves of storms.
The speaker was assuming the stillness around her on her death bed meant that she was waiting for some sort of major upheaval, some sort of religious moment when she would be whisked from this still quiet room into a new life. Before the appearance of the fly, it is evident that the tone of the room was of expectation. The speaker was obviously under a lot of pressure, she was expected to die, and the people surrounding her , still and quiet were waiting for her to leave them, perhaps not In a grand matter that they can see, but In order to deal with death, all living people assume a “better place” Is awaiting.
The speaker, however In her death, Is becoming enlightened to the possibility that perhaps, this room, this stillness, is all. It is unclear whether she finds the stillness, the lack of major religious epiphany, to be problematic. The tone of the poem is factual, and calm. Using the heaves of storm, and the stillness of alarm as polarize Imagery, one might Infer that she thought that the stillness she was experiencing was the precursor to some sort of eternal stillness of air, or heaven.
The opposite of this stillness, or the heaves of storm, may then represent an eternal tumultuous existence of hell. By interposing a fly into this moment where she should be entering one of these new worlds, the speaker may be finding that she does not have to enter any new world at all. This mundane fly, buzzing, ruining what should have been her moment of rebound epiphany, means that she Is simply leaving. She can close her eyes, and it does not seem to be painful to the speaker. She accepts this mundane idea as simply being inevitable. The speaker wills away her keepsakes.
She is leaving her earthly possession or what she calls “what portion of me be assignable. ” It is sad here that the speaker does not find her experiences, her ideas, or her words to be what she can leave on earth. She is leaving the people in the room things. She gives them her worldly objects, ironically, the things that at this moment, have the least amount of worth to her. With he reintroduction of the fly at the end of this stanza, perhaps she is saying that she knows these objects are, like her death, mundane. They mean about as much as the presence of this fly means.
They are not memories, they are not divine, they are not her, they are Just objects, but they are all the speaker has to give to the world upon her exit. The speaker is disappointed here, that she can not give the mourners into he room more. She knows that sitting there, watching her, with no more tears left, they are waiting to witness some sort of example of God’s power at work as she leaves them. She alone knows that this will not happen. As she sits listening to the fly buzz around her she is realizing that this end is all she will receive.
The fly’s “blue uncertain stumbling buzz” in the last stanza bridges a connection between the narrator and the fly. The fly is flying around without confidence or assurance. The fly has taken away the speakers confidence as well. Now, without her religious, significant, grand exit from this world she cannot predict what happens next. She like the fly, is uncertain, her emotions are as stagnant and unchanging as the fly’s buzzing. Here, it is possible to assume the Dickinson was subscribing, at least n part, to the ideas of transcendentalism. She is rejecting the concrete Christian view of a God and a heaven.
Following transcendentalist principles, the idea of a lack of a conventional heaven in this poem is not so dire and tragic. The speaker is finding salvation within herself. Transcendentalism’s focus on a person’s connection with nature allows the speaker, following this theory, to connect herself with the uncertain, mundane fly, and find herself quietly leaving the world, acknowledging her fears and uncertainties, but not regretting them. Emerson wrote on transcendentalism “everything real is self-existent. Everything divine shares the self- existence of Deity.
All that you call the world is the shadow of that substance which you are, the perpetual creation of the powers of thought, of those that are dependent and of those that are independent of your will. ” (American Transcendentalism web, Emerson Lecture on Transcendentalism) While a devout Christian would find the ending of Dickinson poem tragic, a false ending where a climax was expected but not attained, a transcendentalist would find her epiphany a personal salvation. She is accepting her end, and does not seem disappointed by it. In death, the ultimate form f human isolation, she is finding an individual manner of exit.
From a traditional Christian point of view, the fly’s appearance between the light and ” places doubt in the mind of the speaker, and therefore prevents her and doubts, and could leave the world with perfect confidence that she would be escorted by a divine being into heaven, she would be. However, Dickinson does not right of any internal failing of spirit. She writes “and then, the windows failed,” an external extinguishing of light. Who is truly mislead by death in this poem? By this external failing of light, perhaps it is not the speaker, but the witnesses.
The speaker never says it is she who is waiting for the appearance of the King. It is the witnesses in the room whose “breathes gathering firm and still, for the last onset of the King. ” Perhaps, for the living to be able to accept death, they must assume that their loved one is going somewhere better, but the narrator, already accepting her fate, does not need this conventional idea of the future divine. The last line “l could not see to see” gives a dual meaning to the word “see. ” The speaker could not force herself to see the heaven she should, by conventional belief, e entering.
She could not believe to see. She could not create a divine for her loved ones. She instead willed them her earthly goods and must leave them to create their own belief of what should be a new beginning for her. The poem is a study on the nature of grief. On our persistent need to keep those who have left this world close to us, and our eternal desire to meet them in the next world. The poem’s speaker knows, as the fly buzzes past, that she will not see her attendants again, but the feelings of loss are exclusively with the mourners. She is satisfied with her isolation.
The peculiar aspect of this poem is that the speaker is reflecting on her last moments after death. She is speaking from the grave. Given the assumption that the fly attributed to her a notion of a lack of life after death, then where is the speaker making these reflections from? Could she have been wrong? I feel that this is not the case. The poem is a lesson on grief, and on death. It speaks to the need for the individual to find their own meaning. It gives the reader an allowance for a doubt of the conventional. In the speaker’s death the was no need for her to “see to see. ” The need for divine fell only with the people she left.