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Thread: Little Fly, Sound of Experience. William Blake

  1. #1
    Registered User ericson1st's Avatar
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    Smile Little Fly, Sound of Experience. William Blake

    Hi everyone....
    I'm a new-face for this community...
    I have an assignment from my lecture. I have to analyze "Little Fly", I should find the figurative language 1 from that poem.

    I have got several figurative languages but I'm not sure whether it is true or false. Can anybody help me???

    best regard,
    Ericson

    Little Fly
    By, William Blake (1757-1827)

    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.
    Last edited by ericson1st; 10-23-2008 at 04:12 PM. Reason: It was not complete, sorry

  2. #2
    liber vermicula Bitterfly's Avatar
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    _ am I a happy fly: metaphor
    _ some blind hand: symbol (of death) or a form of synecdoche (part for the whole)
    _ thoughtless hand and blind hand: qualifying a hand of "thoughtless" or "blind" is a figure of speech, but I've forgotten which one, sorry. I suppose it could be a hypallage?
    _ the hand brushing away the summer's play is also figurative, because the hand is brushing away the fly, not the summer's play. Metonymy? Not sure...

    There are other figures of speech (apostrophe, for instance, at the beginning of the poem; chiamus I thee thou me), but I'm not sure whether they come under the appellation of figurative language.

  3. #3
    Registered User ericson1st's Avatar
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    Bitterfly.. could you show me the meaning of this poem..? Who is the I? I wonder whether William Blake express human with full of careless(thoughtless) who have killed the little fly or He express the summer-win which have killed the little fly.
    any way thank for the help...
    Last edited by ericson1st; 10-25-2008 at 11:26 AM.

  4. #4
    liber vermicula Bitterfly's Avatar
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    Well... a few - simple - thoughts:

    The poet 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".

    You would expect him to mean, also, that he is to the fly what God is to man. So in way, there is a double identification here through the idea of death: the poet is like the fly, but he is also like God, or whatever divinity brings death. This could be construed as slightly vain on the part of the poet, and rather blasphemous (does God too, like him, drink and play and sing?). But it also gives an idea of the connections existing between all the realms of the universe. In a way, it brings to mind the medieval world-view: you know, with the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm etc.

    It could be, though, that the meaning of the poem is not as simple as it first looks: there are several things that are difficult to understand:
    _ note the shift from "thoughtless hand" (the poet's) to "blind hand", which suggests that what brings him death is not God - how could the conventional, omniscient God be described as "blind"?. So what is it? Sorry, I don't have time to look up blindness and see what could be behind this word.
    _ note the fact that if the poet compares himself to a fly (a little cliché, so not unexpected), he also compares the fly to a man, and this is stranger and more surprising.
    _ the last two stanzas are more complex: he assimilates thought to life, and lack of thought to death, and true enough, his thoughtless brought death to the fly. But it can also be interpreted differently: lack of thought, for a human being, is death too. (I don't see if you understand what I mean, I have trouble expressing my own thoughts on the subject!) You are alive only if you think.
    _ The connection between the last two stanzas: he will be a happy fly whether he lives or die, ie if he thinks or not, it won't change anything to his state of mind. I can't help thinking this is rather ironical, but then again, I've never studied Blake in depth, so don't know whether it's an uncharacteristic thought for him or not.

  5. #5
    Registered User ericson1st's Avatar
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    Double thanks for you Bitterfly...
    Even though I can't catch what you mean for the whole of your opinion, but I can catch the point of your opinion.
    Little bit about me, I have been as a student of English Literature in my home country since one year ago. In this semester I have been getting much poetry-analysis assignment.

    CU on my next question, but if you have free time to read and answer my question if you busy please just omit...

    Triple thanks for you....

  6. #6
    The Fly basically poses a philosophical question about the benevolence of God. The Fly is symbolic of Humans being just as inferior to God as Flies are to us; just as we with a "thoughtless hand" ruin their essence, God too can destroy us with a simply a "Blind hand". There is a sense of mockery in his tone, for he claims that he shall "dance, sing and drink" till God kills him...these actions of singing, dancing and drinking are usually happy experiences and so in using such specific experiences and then claiming that God takes them away- he further exaggerates God's lack of care for humans like Mans lack of care for the fly. [It may seem confusing, but if actions such as - I shall "Weap....fall...." more sorrowful actions.... than it would be like God is helping us escape them.....] but Blakes choice of Language has forced God's act to become more like a murders....is God to Blake a murder...this poem implies so.
    I Think in calling God "blind" Blake is questioning God's power, should he be able to blindly kill us like we "thoughtlessly" kill a fly?

    "Blind" has problematic implications of weakness in the sense that a "Blind" God is not omnipotent and neither is he omniscient, suggesting that to Blake God is not omniscient and thus should not be making decisions on Mankind.


    When he compares mankind to a fly, he is simply reinforcing the minor position man has in this world, for he is a Fly, and God is the human- this creates i think, rather a powerful image of the powerlessness of humans.

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