“The Fly”- By William Blake

Little Fly
Thy summer’s 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.

Teeny weenie like the subject fly, the poem is bigger than what it seems.It is not just about a fly but also about three characters from the image in which Blake had set the poem as a text in the trees. The poem is set as a blurb in the trees with a nurse and a toddler in the foreground and a shuttle cock playing girl in the background.Do we need to understand the background to the poem? Not necessary but it does help a better understanding.

The fly is also a man whose wing is casually brushed by a blind hand,probably a recall of the girl’s racquet brushing the feathered shuttle cock .The poet seems looking at the girl playing as he is thoughtlessly brushing the fly and plunges into thought about how thoughtless he has been.Man brushes the fly casually and is himself a fly subject to a similar brushing by a higher power.Fly is man and man is fly ,the way both get brushed with a casualness shocking to the thoughtful man.

There is a lot common between fly and man-both have life .Thought for man makes for life and thoughtlessness is brain death .The fly is helpless against the forces of life and death and so is man who drinks and sings ,till a blind hand brushes his wing.He is a happy fly, if he lives by thought and if thought stops he dies like the fly .The hand that brushes is a random(blind) event ,whether for the fly or for man.

The toddler ,the girl and the nurse associated with man’s birth and his growing are activities that go on like the summer play of a fly till his wing is brushed by some blind hand.