Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Clod and the Pebble | by William Blake | A commentary by Mohamed Ansary

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.[left]

   [left] So sang a 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


This poem was written by William Blake, one of the great Romantic poets. The poem is entitled “ The Clod and the Pebble”. The first thing that strikes us as odd is that the poem is a dialogue between two inanimate things. The first stanza starts with “ love seeketh not itself to please”. We find ourselves in the middle of a conversation. We even do not know who is talking until we reach the second stanza. Step by step we learn that it is a “clod” which is talking about love. The poet uses the techinque of personification. He considers the “clod of clay” as a human being who expresses his point of view.[/left]
[left]We are introduced to the theme of the poem from the very beginning . The poet makes it clear that it is about “love”. But on which side is the poet? Does he consider “love” as a “ heaven” in “hell’s despair” ? Or does he regard it as “ hell” in “ heaven’s despite”? In fact, no one can guess the poet’s viewpoint. William Blake gives the reader the two perspectives. The poem was written dexteriously due to this fact. In addition, the poet uses economy in writing. He uses , in other words, a very little words and repeats them in the first and third stanzas but each time with a different order to give a totally different point of view.

In the first stanza, the "clod of clay" sings a song expressing her point of view towards love. The clod believes that love is not selfish. Love has not any care for itself. It dedicates itself to the ease of others and “builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair”. In other words, love sacrifices itself for lovers.

Within the second stanza we learn that the “clod of clay” sings this song while she is “ trodden with the cattle’s feet”. The brightness of this line stems from the imaginative scene of the action. The poet is not only writing a poem but also drawing a picture. Light is shed on the place of the clod. By now we can hear and see the “clod of clay”. The fact that the clod is “trodden with the cattle’s feet” clarifies that the clod’s point of view towards love comes out of experience. It is said that one cannot feel or sympathise with the others unless one passes the experience. This saying comes true here

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