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The speaker says that she heard a fly buzz as she lay on her deathbed.

The room was as still as the air between the Heaves of a storm. The eyes around her had cried themselves out, and the breaths were firming themselves for that last Onset, the moment when, metaphorically, the King / Be witnessedin the Room. The speaker made a will and Signed away / What portion of me be / Assignable and at that moment, she heard the fly. It interposed itself With blueuncertain stumbling Buzz between the speaker and the light; the Windows failed; and then she died (I could not see to see). Form I heard a Fly buzz employs all of Dickinsons formal patterns: trimeter and tetrameter iambic lines (four stresses in the first and third lines of each stanza, three in the second and fourth, a pattern Dickinson follows at her most formal); rhythmic insertion of the long dash to interrupt the meter; and an ABCB rhyme scheme. Interestingly, all the rhymes before the final stanza are half-rhymes (Room/Storm, firm/Room, be/Fly), while only the rhyme in the final stanza is a full rhyme (me/see). Dickinson uses this technique to build tension; a sense of true completion comes only with the speakers death. Commentary One of Dickinsons most famous poems, I heard a Fly buzz strikingly describes the mental distraction posed by irrelevant details at even the most crucial momentseven at the moment of death. The poem then becomes even weirder and more macabre by transforming the tiny, normally disregarded fly into the figure of death itself, as the flys wing cuts the speaker off from the light until she cannot see to see. But the fly does not grow in power or stature; its final severing act is performed With Blueuncertain stumbling Buzz. This poem is also remarkable for its detailed evocation of a deathbed scenethe dying persons loved ones steeling themselves for the end, the dying woman signing away in her will What portion of me be / Assignable (a turn of phrase that seems more Shakespearean than it does Dickinsonian). Summary The speaker declares that the brain is wider than the sky, for if they are held side by side, the brain will absorb the sky With easeand Youbeside. She says that the brain is deeper than the sea, for if they are held Blue to Blue, the brain will absorb the sea as sponges and buckets absorb water. The brain, the speaker insists, is the weight of Godfor if they are hefted Pound for Pound, the brains weight will differ from the weight of God only in the way that syllable differs from sound. Form This poem employs all of Dickinsons familiar formal patterns: it consists of three four-line stanzas metered iambically, with tetrameter used for the first and third lines of each stanza and trimeter used for the second and fourth lines; it follows ABCB rhyme schemes in each stanza; and uses the long dash as a rhythmic device designed to break up the flow of the meter and indicate short pauses. Commentary Another of Dickinsons most famous poems, The Brainis wider than the Sky is in many ways also one of her easiest to understanda remarkable fact, given that the poems theme is actually the quite complicated relationship between the mind and the outer world. Using the homiletic mode that characterizes much of her early poetrythe brain is wider than the sky is as homiletic a statement as success is counted sweetest by those who neer succeed, Dickinson testifies to the minds capacity to absorb, interpret, and subsume perception and experience. The brain is wider than the sky despite the skys awesome size because the brain is able to incorporate the universe into itself, and thereby even to absorb the ocean. The source of this capacity, in this poem, is God. In an astonishing comparison Dickinson likens the minds capabilities to the weight of God, differing from that weight only as syllable differs from sound.

This final stanza reads quite easily, but is actually rather complexit is difficult to know precisely what Dickinson means. The brain differs from God, or from the weight of God, as syllable differs from sound; the difference between syllable and sound is that syllable is given human structure as part of a word, while sound is raw, unformed. Thus Dickinson seems to conceive of God here as an essence that takes its form from that of the human mind.