"On Finding a Fly Crushed in a Book" by Charles Tennyson

Essay by maloka May 2007

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This poem is much deeper than the title suggests. On firstly reading the title the reader feels as though the poet is moved by this simple incident of a crushed fly in a book. However, the poem is rather a reflective one which is prompted by this small incident that follows the opening of the book. The poet's feelings are stirred because the sight of that fly reminded him of man's life. This discovery brought into his mind Man's own Book (life) with all its fortunes and misfortunes. In fact it's a medatitive prespection which sounds a bit morbid, yet realistic at the same time. Man is regarded from the poet's view point a small fly , therefore, our fate is compared to the fate of this crushed fly. The only difference that the speaker is underlining is that a fly could leave a mark and effect rather than man.

Tennyson believes that our lives could be so trivial and vain to the extent that it could end without leaving any influence or remeberance. A man could live his whole life and leaves worthlessly and this what mattered to the poet. In this sonnet Tennyson is raising this critical issue where he shows in the opening lines his shock to see this tiny vicitm lying helplessly between the folds of a book. The idea itself seems somewhat funny but it raises to a level of seriousness when we read the hidden meanings meant by the poet. The use of archaic language is another mean of increasing the seriousness of the theme. As a clergyman ,Tennyson is using formal language picked from the Bible as well as religious connotations. He pictures the incident as a crime against a tiny vulnerable creature "Some hand,that never meant to do thee harm /...