One student’s interpretation of ‘The Fly’


This five-stanza poem takes on a playful rhyme scheme and meter, despite its serious and somewhat morbid subject. Blake himself  compares himself to the fly because like the insect’s, his existence is insignificant: mortal (he too will be brushed off by a hand, in time) and devoted to apparently frivolous activities (“I dance and drink and sing”) which will be interrupted just as brutally as the fly’s “summer play”.This poem also returns to Blake’s theme in Songs of Experience of the place of thought in the quality and quantity of human life. The speaker harms the fly with his “thoughtless hand,” indicating that thoughtlessness leads to death. It is the concept of the lack of thought behind the fateful actions that Blake seeks to develop in this poem. Had the man given thought before brushing aside the fly he might not have done so, and he might have realised that he had the power of life and death in his hand. However, the fly does not know this, and its behaviour is unchanged because it has no way of knowing that its life could be about to end. I like this poem due to its seemingly simple appearance as it has a word count of only 69, but on closer inspection it is actually an in depth poem filled with a deep meaning. Are we as humans as insignificant as a fly?


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