This week here I am saying the poem “The Fly” by William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827).
Blake is a fascinating poet, with his mystical aspect and of course his beautiful drawings that accompanied his poems. Or is it his beautiful poems that accompanied his drawings?
Of course, with the type of work I do I adore Blake: his writing, his drawing. Also these are very simple and direct forms. If you have never seen Blake’s drawings please try and do so as soon as possible. With his wife, they printed the images and coloured in the prints with watercolours. I see Blake’s books like fanzines.
Seen as a madman during his life, he has become more and more popular over time until he is now one of the best known and loved British poets.
Time and the poet
It is almost as if he stepped outside of time through his visions and hopes. Blake is bigger than time; he is timeless. He stated that he had visions from an early age, once seeing a flock of angels in a tree.
In this poem there is no vison, simply a realisation of the fleeting aspect of life, in its many forms.
There are many versions of this poem set to music but the beautiful simplicity of the lyric gives it something very playful, without needing any music to enhance it.
For me this poem shows us that we never know when “a thoughtless hand” will brush us away. We have to enjoy our life as it is, no matter how fleeting that might be.
So, your projects, your hopes, your worries: all of these can disappear so quickly.
You can think about this at the start of the week on the way to wherever you are going…
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.
From Songs of Experience. First published in 1794. This poem is in the public domain.
By William Blake