Editors play influential roles in literature. They can easily alter the overall atmosphere of literature or change the message behind it. Different versions of the poem “I heard a Fly buzz…” by Emily Dickinson demonstrate different caesura, capitalization and word usage. The 1955 edition by Thomas H. Johnson and the original version by Emily Dickinson portray almost identical ideas and emphasis through limited alteration of caesura and word capitalization in relation to death as somewhat unimportant event. Caesura is one of the most crucial elements in classic English poetry. It can either change the pace or the atmosphere of the work. Emily Dickinson uses caesura in her poem “Dying” to demonstrate death as a slow and unspiritual event. Both the 1955 edition and the original edition share the same style of caesura from the start to the end.
In the original version, Dickinson uses a vast number of hyphens between sentences. For example, the first two sentences of the poem, “I heard a Fly buzz-when/ I died-”, depicts how the author uses hyphens between every phrase to portray short breaths of a dying individual. The author uses short breathed pace of the poem to describe the narrator’s slow process of death and nonspiritual side of death.
In addition, the author implies how death does not contain any kind of sudden or spiritual endings. In the 1955 edition, Johnson places caesuras in almost identical places to preserve the original work’s perception of death. As a result, the 1955 edition successfully displays images of a dying narrator and the short paced poet structure. With the same style of caesura, the 1955 edition brings out the original version’s idea about death being a slow yet nonspiritual everyday occurrence.
Often poets use capitalization as a tool to emphasize specific words. Two versions of the poem “Dying” capitalize overlapping words to express equal emphasis. In the original version of the poem Emily Dickinson constantly focuses on incoherent words such as “room” and “fly.” The author uses emphasis on the room to create an illusion of an isolated space. Dickinson utilize this illusion introduce the emptiness of death. The constant capitalization of the word “fly” causes readers’ attention to move away from the dying narrator. This ironic emphasis on the fly, transforms this serious theme called death into something that is minor and insignificant.
Two versions of the poem, the 1955 edition and the original edition, have minor difference in their capitalization style; the only difference is the capitalization of the word “around.” In the 1955 edition, Johnson capitalizes the words “fly” and “room” throughout the poem. As a result of this capitalization Johnson successfully creates an atmosphere that is identical to the original version. Johnson also inherits Dickinson’s original intention to minimize the importance of death and to make something miniscule, a fly, as the center of attention.
The 1955 edition shares an incredible amount of similarities with the original version; the style of caesura and the capitalization of specific words. The 1955 edition places hyphens in the exact same places to preserve the original version’s ideas about death being a slow natural process. In addition, both of the 1955 edition and the original version emphasize significant words such as “fly and “room” to represent the insignificance of death, rather than portraying death as a major event in human lives.
“I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died – (591).” By Emily Dickinson : The Poetry Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174972>.
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