Limón and Blake: Similar ideals, hundreds of years apart

Who gets to look? Ada Limón would say that anyone who wishes to look, can, and should look. This act of looking is the primary role of a tourist, an onlooker full of interest, attention, and appreciation. Tourists travel from place to place, looking at countries, streams, oceans, castles, churches, ruins. Most importantly, tourists, whether literal or metaphorical, look at life, acknowledge life, and savor the act of being, and what has been. During her Dickinson Stellfox residency, Limón noted that she was most interested and inspired by the fact that we live, and we die. 

This same inspiration is exceedingly apparent in William Blake’s work, specifically in his poem The Fly. The speaker of the poem views the fly’s life from an outside perspective, as someone whose “Thoughtless hand/ has brushed away” (3-4) the fly; but also sees the fly from a very familiar perspective. The speaker realizes that both live and both die, making them quite similar in a very simplistic way. They take note of the little things like the fly itself, but doesnt see the fly as small. Instead the fly is viewed simply: as a living being who experiences high and low points in life just like humans do (even if its ultimate low point is being brushed away.) When viewing life in this way there is no gender, and there is no class. There is only the simple act of being alive. With no confinements or definitions, and only viewing life, being watchful, and being a tourist or watcher who thinks, lives, and is interested and appreciates their being, as well as the fly’s. “Am not I/ A fly like thee? / Or art not thou /  A man like me?” (5-8) efficiently equates man to fly, and suggests that even the “little fly” (1) is capable of this appreciation and experience of a good life, just like the speaker and just like Ada Limón’s ideas. 

Both poets share a similar appreciation for intersections between nature and mankind, as well as the simplicity in life itself. Being mindful, stopping to think, to look, to watch, or listen, was the advice of United State’s 24th poet laureate, Ada Limón. Her words, alongside Blake’s, suggest that there is a certain greatness in taking a moment to be a tourist, who is simply watching and exploring life.


2 thoughts on “Limón and Blake: Similar ideals, hundreds of years apart”

  1. I really love your connection to Ada Limón’s speech; her observation of the fact we live and we die really stuck with me and I love how you implemented it. If I had to sum up your close reading / argument from this post it would be the recognition that ultimately, we all come to the same fate. I think your point about how when we observe life like this there is no gender or class is definitely correct. However, if you were to turn this into a paper I might add a section on who has the free time to be able to have these thoughts? That acknowledgment might be fruitful to a paper. Overall, great job and connections 🙂

  2. I love your points about the similarities between the two poets! I also think that their ideas about human and nature relationships are also very similar. They have many similar ideas about the value of life in all forms in nature. In “The Fly”, the lines “And the want | of death is though” is very similar to Limon’s ”give me this”, where she also questions why the speaker must hold hate in their heart for wanting a groundhog to stay away from food it needs to survive. Both poets draw our attention to the barriers behind human and nature relationships by placing us in a different lens.

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