Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Ambiguity in Emily Dickinon's Poetry College

Emily Dickinson, in most of her poetry, proves to cherish ambiguity. Some of her poems can be perceived in multiple different ways of which none are right or wrong. Depending on how the reader sees and interprets the poem, the meaning is twisted to fit their view. The ambiguity in her writing relates to the idea that human beings cannot tell what the world means, but they try to figure it out anyway. Dickinson offers explanations and answers in a way that does not state them as facts, but proposes them as possibilities. In her poems “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died-" and “I died for Beauty – but was scarce”, Dickinson uses ambiguity to suggest that there are several different ways to view the mysteries of the world.

In the poem “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died-“, Dickinson proposes answers to the question of the existence of divinity in the world. The narrator has died and is lingering around, with other people, waiting for the presence of “the King” (“I heard a Fly buzz” line 7). The “King”, in this use, is God. They want to witness a sign that there is divinity in the world around them. The only sign of anything in the room, however, is a fly. The ambiguity of the poem comes into play with two different readings, one...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 861 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6526 literature essays, 1773 sample college application essays, 268 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in