Saying “The Fly” by William Blake

The Fly

This week here I am saying the poem “The Fly” by William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827).

William Blake

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.

The message

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…

William_Blake_The_Fly

The Fly

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.

From Songs of Experience. First published in 1794. This poem is in the public domain.

By William Blake

Saying “Definition of Your Attraction”

Short poem

Here I am saying a poem “Definition of Your Attraction” by János Pilinszky, (1921 – 1981) translated from the Hungarian.

I picked this poem because it is short. I have been very busy recently (you’ll read more about that on the website very soon) and I have not found time to learn a poem at all this week.

Short and simple?

Even though it is a short poem, when you know a little about Pilinszky’s life you appreciate this poem differently.

 

“Definition of Your Attraction”

On a fully broken-in animal’s back

a fully broken-in animal rides.

by János Pilinszky

Translated from the Hungarian by Peter Jay.

Saying Song of Childhood by Peter Handke

This week I learnt off Song of Childhood by Peter Handke. It is cold on the video and I am not vey happy with this version.

When the child was  a child…

The child is still a child …

 

Song of Childhood

When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging,
wanted the brook to be a river,
the river to be a torrent,
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people.
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

When the child was a child,
It choked on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding,
and on steamed cauliflower,
and eats all of those now, and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child,
it awoke once in a strange bed,
and now does so again and again.
Many people, then, seemed beautiful,
and now only a few do, by sheer luck.

It had visualized a clear image of Paradise,
and now can at most guess,
could not conceive of nothingness,
and shudders today at the thought.

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.

When the child was a child,
It was enough for it to eat an apple, … bread,
And so it is even now.

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,
it had, on every mountaintop,
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.

When the child was a child,
It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today.

By Peter Handke