Like a Long-Legged Fly…..

Dear Readers, I have a great love for the poems of W. B. Yeats – someone once said that a poem was all about finding the perfect phrase and then, like a jeweller, tapping the other words in around it. For me, there is a sense of balance in the words of his poems, as if each word is perfect and there was no other choice. I especially like this poem ‘Long-Legged Fly’, because of its spaciousness, and the way that each stanza conjures a clear image, with so much left unsaid.

However, Mr Yeats was not an entomologist, because I strongly suspect that his Long-legged Fly’ was not at all a fly, but a pondskater, which is a bug. I forgive him all the same.

Long-Legged Fly
W.B. Yeats

That civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post.
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps are spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand upon his head.

Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

That the topless towers be burnt
And men recall that face,
Move most gently if move you must
In this lonely place.
She thinks, part woman, three parts a child,
That nobody looks; her feet
Practise a tinker shuffle
Picked up on the street.

Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
Her mind moves upon silence.

That girls at puberty may find
The first Adam in their thought,
Shut the door of the Pope’s chapel,
Keep those children out.
There on that scaffolding reclines
Michael Angelo.
With no more sound than the mice make
His hand moves to and fro.

Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

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