My Lord! It's ugly!
It's downright disturbing!
Those Argus eyes!
Those crafty legs
Such was the buzz in Heaven when the fly
was first unveiled.
Gabriel heaved a sigh:
The wings are lacy, the body iridescent,
which in another context, might be pleasant,
though gaudy touches, but in black and green,
these features putrefy, become obscene!
If it's a joke, said Michael, it's jejune—
Why couldn't he compose another moon?
Now that was pretty work—attractive, exalted
(though, in my view, the craters might be faulted).
The firmament was lovely, and the sun
almost brilliant. Last Tuesday's larks were fun—
hardly the monumental subjects one
expects from artists of his caliber—
but quite commendable for what they were.
But this! It misses beauty by a mile,
and that's the least of it—its lifestyle's vile:
My sources say—but keep this entre nous—
It eats...to put it delicately...poo!
Poppycock! Tripe! some of the Angels stormed.
Raphael said, you must be misinformed—
the Maestro's lofty, perfect—but before he
could continue, I confirmed the story.
For a few moments, awful silence reigned
as archangelic tempers were regained.
Then Sariel continued Michael's case,
a look of indignation on his face.
Till now we've always looked upon Creation
with a good deal of honest admiration.
Sure, some of those hosannas were a stretch,
but heavenly choirs are meant to sing, not kvetch,
About the minor flaws of bees or basil—
we're here to praise, not offer an appraisal.
It's not our bailiwick, and anyway,
a little humbug's part of the donnée:
baloney and banana oil belong
in the receipt for poetry and song,
but now He's gone too far—how can we sing
the praises of this execrable thing?
Does His Omniscient Majesty expect
Heavenly Society's elect
to fall prostrate before this...this insect?
Any praise for this abomination
would be the most outrageous fabrication.
And if some sycophantic seraphim
should venture on a laudatory hymn,
they couldn't hope to keep their voices free
of all the tell-tale strains of irony
(anathema to the Creator's ear
for artists like their flattery sincere).
Though our Almighty Master doesn't like
labor disputes, we'll have to call a strike
until he scraps or modifies these flies.
Here we stand, we can't do otherwise!
Then Uriel coughed to gain the choir's attention:
I thought my lords it might be meet to mention
that if we see Creation as a whole,
we'll grasp how well the fly becomes its role,
how wonderfully this vile thing in its place
bestows upon the world its mite of grace.
Has it escaped you, Sariel and Michael
that something in the cosmos must recycle
the offal and the ordure left behind
by creatures of a more attractive kind?
The job is vile, so flies are suited to it—
or would you have gazelles and egrets do it?
Very clever, Uriel, I said,
but why not make the offal nice instead?
Or don't you think Omnipotence could make
ordure that looks like orchids, smells like cake,
offal salubrious as mountain air
And useful for conditioning the hair?
Why not make more efficient animals
that leave no ordure, and when nature calls,
urinate pure water and emit
carbon dioxide, not this smelly schmutz?
Uriel looked to Raphael, who said
With a deliberate shake of that huge head,
But Satan, you were always critical:
Sunshine left you cold. You thought the fall
too garish and the spring too pert, too pretty.
You said the moon was planned by some committee
of maiden aunts! It's hardly a surprise
that you're not fond of excrement and flies.
To you the universe is just a bore.
No, Raphael, that's not quite right. Before
the fly was introduced I was unhappy
with all those sunsets, roses, stars—too sappy.
Corals, angel fish and bumblebees
sunflowers, mustard, frilly apple trees
the tawdry toucan and the cockatoo,
the sky itself—in vulgar powder-blue
with clouds like dollops of meringue or cream—
a less sophisticated color scheme
can hardly be imagined. So, you see,
While you all lauded Nature's harmony
in the awed tones of documentary,
I was pining for some dissonance.
The maestro's taste had not impressed me since
the day his awful fiat shattered the dark.
But now I feel he's really hit the mark
(if I may liken Yahweh to an archer).
I like this coprophilic new departure,
and what I hear of creatures yet to come—
the roach, the virus, the bacterium
And homicidal Man—makes me delirious.
At long last the Almighty's getting serious!
On my advice, he's taken risks and tried
to give expression to his darker side.
And in my view, this new approach redeems
the kitschiness of butterflies, moonbeams
and angels (present company excepted).
Now that this novel line has been adopted
(Albeit as a brilliant afterthought),
all of those picture postcard views are fraught
with a more modern menace. I won't carp
about Creation anymore. My harp
is tuned, my hallelujahs are emphatic.
Join me my friends! let's offer hymns, not static.
Come praise the fly! Don't take it quite so hard
that God Almighty's joined the avant garde!