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.