The Fly

In the poem The Fly, William Blake compares his life and death to that of a fly which he happens to kill unintentionally and finally advises the man to enjoy every day like the fly because no one knows when God will take away our life.

We don’t have any control over our life or death, so thinking about the future and fearing from it is something which makes us sad and joyless. Hence we should accept our life, submit to our fate and live as much as we can.

The poem has been divided into 5 small stanzas having four lines each. The rhyme scheme is ABCB DEFE and so on.

The Fly by William Blake – Summary and Analysis

Stanza 1

In the first stanza, the poet who is sitting outside in summer is thinking about a little fly, whom his thoughtless hand (means without thinking his hand) killed. The poet is thus not happy with what he has done. However his conscious wakes up after killing the fly.

As a Romantic Poet, he is connected to nature. Thus both the summer and the fly have significance in his poetry. The summer symbolises hope, prosperity and joy whereas the killing of the fly symbolises doom, blunder and something quite contrary to the former.

Stanza 2

In the second stanza, the poet compares himself to the fly. He asks the fly (in imaginations as it is death now) a rhetorical question “aren’t both of them similar to each other”.

In real life, it seems to be a wrong comparison. However the poet here is talking in terms of their lives. Both of them are created by God, both live their life, both have to die one day (though fly has died now).

Stanza 3

The 3rd stanza, continuous from the 2nd one. According to the poet, they are similar in the way that he also dances, drinks and sings like the fly until one day when someone (here means God) will “brush his wing” i.e. take away his life as he did to fly.

Here the poet focuses on two important aspects of life – first both fly and him (or man in general) enjoy their lives, they dance, sing, drink and do whatever they want. Secondly both of them are subjected to death which in inevitable.

The fly was flying here and there and suddenly the poet killed it with his hand. Similarly, he will to meet the same fate one day.

Stanza 4 & 5

The poet says that it is the thought which makes him (or in general sense, man) different from fly. It is good as well as bad – good in the sense that it makes human wiser than the fly and bad in the sense that it makes us fear from death.

The poet says that for humans, thought is our life, strength and breath and even the thought of death (i.e. everything). Thus if a man stops thinking he will be as happy as fly if he lives or if he dies.

These lines are quite significant and reflect the message of the poem. The poet is of the view that our though (or in other words analysis of paralysis) is something which makes us to suffer, to fear and to run from the death. It is a hurdle in the way of happiness.

If the man stops thinking about death and starts enjoying his today, he will remain as happy as fly (as fly never cares about death). Thus the poem ends in a universal message i.e. to live the life without thinking about future.