Analysis of the Poem: The Fly

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Analysis of the Poem:  The Fly


   In the poem The Fly, much vivid imagery is employed in creating a
graphic  depiction of the housefly as the filthy, disease ridden scourge of
man that it is. 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 it lives in and
feeds off of.

  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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