Little fly;

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.

– William Blake

When I was thirteen, I had an inspirational English Literature teacher – probably the one individual who first kindled my interest in literature – who always recited William Blake, sprawled over classroom tables like a majestic lion, claimed to be a remarkable political being amongst the army greats – and most of all, recited the same few lines which our class could now recite back with ease.

Today while clearing my room, found the above picture again – a coloured poem illustration of The Fly, and remembered it had been awarded for some feat or the other (an important and remarkable thing to the high school child as I was), which I had desired – as if his recognition meant more to me than anything else in the world. Till today, I remember The Fly most amongst all of William Blake’s poems, and always associate Blake with that teacher.

“Blake’s poetry and art dramatize the power of desire like that of few others. With these beautifully reproduced designs by Blake for his own poetry and that of others, this catalogue reminds us of the relevance of Blake’s vision not only for his own time but for our own. Blake, the poet and painter of Urizen and Los, is also the poet and painter of the dark London streets. We walk in his footsteps centuries later without realizing it, as enslaved by our culture as his contemporaries. Whether we recognize and break our chains remains up to us.” – TAB


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