April 23rd: "The Clod and the Pebble"

My signing with Gayle Ann Williams, Amy Rench, and Marie-Claude Bourque is in two hours! I think it’s going to be lots of fun.

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The Clod and the Pebble
by William Blake

“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 sang little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle’s feet
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres 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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What I like about this poem is that both can be true. I find it interesting that it’s the trodden clod that has the more optimistic version–what is Blake trying to say? Possibly something icky about suffering making us better people, I’m not sure. What do you think?

0 thoughts on “April 23rd: "The Clod and the Pebble"

  1. Susan

    I love this poem. It’s so cynical!

    I think the clod says that because it’s stuck and it’s trying to make itself feel better. It’s not like the clod has chosen to be stepped on, after all! Instead of rebelling it has decided that being squashed is virtuous.

    Abusive pebble! Codependent clod! I don’t think Blake agrees with either of them, but he probably knew plenty of examples of both.

    (P.S. Hi! My best friend went to college with you, and I think a mutual acquaintance of yours told him that you were writing feminist romance novels, and he, knowing that I am into that kind of thing, told me about you. So I went out and bought In for a Penny, and loved it.)

    Reply
    1. Rose

      Hi! Yay, I’m glad you liked In for a Penny! I’m curious, who’s your best friend?

      Heh, you may have a point–the clod can’t exactly move to somewhere else where it won’t be stepped on, so it had better make up a narrative it can be proud of! People have more agency and freedom but they still fall into that trap, don’t they? What I love about the poem is what you said, that we all know plenty of examples of both. People whose love is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, and people who say “I love you” and expect that to be an excuse for hurting someone.

      …Okay, this comment was getting really long, so I’m cutting myself off and attaching the extra stuff to today’s poem, which is about this very subject!

      Reply

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