The poem “The Fly” written by William Blake was published in 1794 in his poetry collection “Songs of Experience”. The collection contained 26 poems. “The Fly” depicts an ordinary daily life incident which we would rather ignore. A disturbing fly killed by accident provokes the thoughts of the poet’s tender heart. He didn’t think it was just a fly, but he explores the incident deeply. He compares the fly and his life. He explores further about life and death.
Summary of “:The Fly” by William Blake:
Stanza 1: On a sunny day, a little fly enjoying the warm weather unknowingly annoys the poet. The poet without a single thought immediately kills the fly with his hand. He hadn’t the intention to kill but when he was disturbed his reflex reacted so fast than his thoughts and killed the fly.
Stanza 2: After murdering the fly, the poets heart repents and starts thinking in a different angle. He asks isn’t I am too a fly like you. He continues asking himself isn’t the fly a man like me. He feels the fly also had a life similar to him and he had ended its life.
Stanza 3: The poet compares this incident to man’s death. Death occurs to a man on an unknown date, but it happens so sudden. No one knows who is taking away man’s life. The poet says he enjoys his life singing, dancing and drinking. He enjoys his life till someone takes away his life, very similar to his thoughtless hand killing a fly.
Stanza 4: The poet clearly depicts the difference between a man and a fly i.e thoughts. Man can think that is his strength. If he cannot reason he would be just ordinary as a fly. By saying thought is life the poet means when thoughts in a man cease, he is no more. He also says a man thinks of death. He knows that death is certain. And everyman suffers because of his thoughts, confusions, displeasure, unsatisfaction, pride, ego everything arises when man thinks. The poet says if he needs liberation his thoughts must die and that happens when a man dies.
Stanza 5: After seeing the end of the happy fly the poet questions himself whether he will be happy when he lives or dies. Here he compares man with a fly teaching us how to live our life carefree. The fly never cared what would happen next. The fly was happy when he lived and he didn’t worry or was scared of death.
Analysis: From a simple incident Blake goes philosophical and teaches us a wonderful lesson. He also sows kindness in our cruel hearts that fly too is a living being like us. He also brings in that without thought all creations are same going through a birth death cycle. Whatever born in earth has to face death.
Literary view: He has compared men’s life to life of a fly. The first stanza depicts real life happening. The second and third stanza seems like a conversation between fly and a man. Abruptly third stanza tries to differentiate man and fly. It also turns into a philosophical exploration. The concluding stanza seems to be a question left to the reader to decide. It also says the poet has decided to live like a fly.
Conclusion: The Fly is a lovely poem from William Blake which as usual looks so simple. In reality it is rich in meaning and soothes our heart.