The Clod and the Pebble

William Blake 1757 (Soho) – 1827 (London)

'Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair.'

So sung a little clod of clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet;
But a pebble of the brook
Warbled out these meters meet:

'Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Blake

William Blake was an English poet, painter and printmaker. more…

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  • Note how each character in the poem speaks exactly 4 lines. They are counterpoints to each other and they are allotted equal time. The intervening, transitional four lines serve to characterize each speaker. Those intermediary lines are an invitation for the reader to expand his or her unerstanding of the thinking and underlying character of each speaker. This poem is one of several that may serve as a good introduction to Blake's poetry and, most especially, his thinking and philosophy of life. Blake saw the world of ideas and, indeed, the whole world and life itself, as a collection of paired "contraries" of which athe comparison of the clod of clay and the pebble presents a good example. Think about the meaning of these contraries and what purpose they may serve in life and you may gain some insight into Wm. Blake, the man and poet. I speak here without any authority other than that I have had the good fortune to have studied under the great Blakean scholar, David Erdman. Another great introduction to the thinking, mind and poetry of Blake may be found in, "The Proverbs of of Hell" section of, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell." In fact, one should read that work in its entirety. 
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"The Clod and the Pebble" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 23 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/39165/the-clod-and-the-pebble>.

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