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"The Fly" by William Blake? help!

 
 
Reply Mon 23 May, 2005 01:14 pm
Hello all...I have this poem called THE FLY by Irish poet William Blake ..

Can someone help me with the ANALYSIS of this poem? It's short and simple, but im not so good in analyzing its words and meanings so I was wondering if I could find a little help here?

Or perhaps if none of you guys have time, is there a website or a link where i can find such analysis?

I'm looking for explanation for the meanings and the context of this poem, in relevance to the kind of poems Blake writes and the circumstances and time in which this poem was written and why was it written like this..etc..

Here it is :

The Fly

Poem lyrics of The Fly by William Blake.

Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.
 
Tino
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 08:19 am
All I can find on the web is this critique of the poem:

The speaker, in this poem, speculates on whether he is or is not like the fly, carelessly swept away by the speaker's hand. The fly may have little, if any, conscious awareness of himself and his mortality and, if the speaker shares that freedom from awareness, then life or death is of little consequence. If, on the other hand, the fly does have human awareness then it is a different story.

Blake was a highly religious man with a unique take on heaven and hell that I am not even going to dare to get into lest I sink in a sea of complexity and flounder there.

Good luck, sorry can't be of more help. Smile
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 09:52 am
The fly does not comprehend death, therefore it matters not to the fly whether it is dead or alive.

First The Poet likens himself to the fly--and then he distinguishes himself from the fly.
0 Replies
 
Tino
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 10:19 am
Be careful with Blake, things usually arn't what they seem in his poetry...

With reference to the original request for background there was an incident in 1803 when Blake was living in West Sussex where Blake forcibly ejected a drunken soldier from his garden. The upshot of this was that Blake was charged with sedition, allegedly for cursing the King and his soldiers, which was a hanging offence at the time. Blake was acquitted but "Norton anthology" makes a reference to this incident colouring or recurring in later poetry so it is probably worth a mark in an essay to mention this in reference to "some blind hand/Shall brush my wing" line. The blindness could be the ignorant behaviour of the soldier. I'm not saying it is, but it should be worth a mark or two as a theory and it'll show you know abit of background which may be worth a mark in turn. Smile
0 Replies
 
vonderjohn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 04:29 pm
very interesting remarks...they're worth being put, so ill summarize them so that they'll be cohesive.

any further analysis dear poets ? Smile
0 Replies
 
vonderjohn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 04:32 pm
by the way this poem is a part of Blake's series of poems under the theme "experiece" i guess. any analysis regarding that theme in relation to the poem?
0 Replies
 
Tino
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 May, 2005 05:40 am
Bad news, Vonderjohn: I've just realised that the incident with the soldier happened too late to have influenced Songs of Innocence and Experience which was published in the 1790's.

Apparently the "and experience" was added to the title when Blake extended the book after first publishing it as "Songs of innocence". Presumably "Fly" was one of the added poems in the later edition, but "innocence" was complicated fir Blake, for example he spoke of the innocence of child chimney sweeps, the most grim and fatal role that could fall to a child in Blake's London...this is a poet who scares the pants off most literature lecturers, never mind students. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
vonderjohn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 May, 2005 06:33 am
hehehe .. funny kind of poet .. i wonder why he had this scary style? Razz
0 Replies
 
Tino
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 May, 2005 02:34 pm
Blake was annoyingly obscure at times; it's essentially a social aloofness at work when Blake said something like "If I can be understood by idiots then I'm wasting my time"... However, the poems obviously do stand up to close analysis or they wouldn't be so highly rated by the literary world. The trouble with Blake's attitude is that it would seem to infer that you and I are "idiots", Vonderjohn, because we don't understand him! Smile
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 May, 2005 12:40 pm
Blake is a mystic, VonderJohn. We're not SUPPOSED to understand him.



The Tiger - a poem by William Blake


The Tiger
William Blake

Tiger Tiger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile His work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tiger
William Blake

Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are born to Sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
- - - -William Blake "Auguries of Innocence"

As for The Fly--who knows? <smile>
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 May, 2005 01:07 pm
Letty--

Tyger, tyger, my mistake,
I thought that you were William Blake.
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 May, 2005 01:11 pm
Laughing and I thought that you were Emily:

I heard a fly buzz when I died,
I wonder if our Emily lied?
0 Replies
 
Tino
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 May, 2005 04:08 am
William Blake may have been a mystic [whatever that means], for example I've heard it said that when Blake had a "vision" he didn't see Jesus or Moses or any of the usual visionary suspects of the time, oh no, for Blake it had to be some obscure saint that nobody else had heard of appearing in a bush...and most of his comtempories apparently thought him insane.

The poetry however has a stunning multiplicity of levels, not just the innocence of the chimney sweep but the fact that "Tyger, tyger" is included in children's anthologies of poetry because it can be read at that level as well as being studied on university modules.

I still don't like the arrogance of the "idiots" remark and wilful obscurity that seems to make a poem more difficult for the sake of it seems bloody-minded [especially when you are studying a poem you don't like].

Never mind, over to you, Noddy Smile Very Happy
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 May, 2005 11:56 am
Letty--

That's a new one for me. I'm quite enchanted to be linked with The Belle of Amherst.
0 Replies
 
Tino
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 May, 2005 01:56 pm
Cheers, Nod. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
Purplegrass
 
  2  
Reply Thu 4 Sep, 2008 01:36 am
@vonderjohn,
William Blake was a vegetarian. Perhaps one should consider that when reading and analyzing this poem. I think what Blake was trying to say, as he had implied many times throughout his poetry, is that one should live in the moment if one is to be happy, in life as well as in death. BTW, Blake was British, not Irish. And here's a more accurate rendition of the poem:

Little Fly
Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing:
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath:
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.
0 Replies
 
Simon Puzey
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Jan, 2009 03:01 am
@vonderjohn,
First I've heard of Blake being Irish. He was born in Lambeth, London - but this is easy to check on Wikipedia, surely?There, that's a start. It's a melancholic speculation on immanence and free will isn't it? The fly's condition is symbolic of Blake the man and poet's relationship with God. Are we controlled/played with by God in the same way that we brush away an irritating fly in summer? The poem poses the question, floats the idea, in a rhetorical way, i.e. does not seek to impose an opinion, but floats the idea?
Miklos7
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 08:25 pm
@Tino,
The religious vision that Blake describes best is part of a letter to a Church of England clergyman. The poem is called "To my Friend Butts." It's very straightforward in meaning, and the imagery is striking. It's too long to print here, but it is in the Modern Library edition of Blake.
As for Blake's being intentionally obscure--I don't think so. He seemed to think that his hand-rolled mythology was clear. I find it byzantine, but that wasn't Blake's intention.
0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 08:33 pm
"Like flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for sport."--King Lear
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Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2009 08:34 pm
Did I get that one right? Off the top of my head, folks.
0 Replies
 
 

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