The Fly


In the poem, " The Fly", much vivid imagery is employed in
creating a graphic depiction of the housefly as a filthy,
disease ridden scourge of man. The author, having obviously
spent a great deal of time observing and noting the
characteristics of the housefly, creates a vivid summation
of his observations and feelings about his subject. The
descriptions and non-subtle metaphors are unique, to say
the least. While the subject matter may seem too trivial to
allow the poem to be taken seriously, it is nevertheless
deserving of study. This poem shows a great deal of
imagination on the part of the author. Few people would
undertake such a detailed literal study of such a lowly
creature. The end result, however, is an entertaining and
unusual perspective on a universal enemy of mankind.
The opening stanza sets the stage for the depiction of the
fly in the rest of the poem. The first line, which begins
describing the fly with "O hideous little bat, the size of
snot," immediately introduces the atmosphere of what is to
follow. The lines that follow describe a creature that is
lowly and parasitic, yet well suited to the world in which
it lives.
The second stanza depicts the fly flying as a minute
messenger of filth and disease. It is described landing on
the heap of dung, then contaminating all that is clean with
its filth and decay. Its hungry burrowing and laying of
maggots in a dead body is described, as is its perpetual
shyness from its adversary, man.
In the third section, the fly's close interaction with
those that would destroy it, is discussed. The horse is
shown as being its mortal enemy, sweeping it with what the
fly sees as the hurricane force of its tail. The author
shows how the fly dares to rest on the hand of its most
dangerous adversary then swiftly flies from his reach, as
if taunting him. He shows how the fly dares also to return
to continually harass his opponent.
The fourth stanza describes the countermeasures employed by
men to destroy the fly. He shows how children try to smash
them in their hands, how wives resort to using poisons to
kill the fly, and how the fly struggles, trapped in sticky
flypaper, with his wings useless unable to carry him off.
The author illustrates that the peace of the man is the
death of the fly.
The fifth, and next to last, stanza shows demonstrates how
passionately the author hates the fly, and the great
pleasure he takes in his destruction. He describes how as a
man he mangles and destroys the tiny fly, crushing him,
smashing his minuscule body, and exposing his vitals. The
author shows how his hatred of this filthy creature is
physically displayed.
The last stanza describes how the author walks as a giant
among the bodies of dead flies strewn across his floor. He
describes sweeping up the bodies of his victims, the sight
of which is vomit inducing. He concludes by describing the
image of one convulsively fighting itself, falling, then
dying among three of his kind, which he describes as
"cannibals," as eager to indulge in the flesh of their own
kind as they are to enjoy any other meal.
The imagery presented in this poem, though somewhat
unusual, is a superb example of how vividly and
passionately poetry can express something, even something
as trivial as a man's battle against the fly. The strong
overstatement of this poem also makes it entertaining. This
poem thus creates an interesting effect for the reader,
using this combination of overstatement and descriptive
imagery. This combination results in a highly captivating
and intriguing poem that, if merely for the imagery alone,
is worthwhile reading. 


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