The Fly by William Blake

The Fly by William Blake from Songs of Innocence / Experience
“The Fly” as it originally appeared.

The Fly by William Blake

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.

William Blake (1757–1827) was a British Romantic poet and painter. His writing and art are distinguished by their originality, imagination, and mysticism, and many of his poems were illustrated by his own engravings. He is best known for his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. (You’ll find more Blake resources from EIL here.)

Here are two readings of the poem; one traditional, and one a little more dramatic. Which do you prefer?

And last, here is an interesting version set to music.

More William Blake Resources from Excellence in Literature