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William Blake’s Views on Love portrayed in “The Clod and the Pebble”

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  • Category: Blake Love

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The poet William Blake wrote “The Clod and the Pebble”. In this poem Blake expresses his ideas of what love should be and how the concept of love is perverted. The two speakers in this poem is a clod of clay and a pebble from a brook. Blake portrays this idea of what love should be and how the concept of love is misconceived through symbolism, the phrases that he uses, and word choice.

One of Blake’s key speakers in this poem is a clod of clay. This clod of clay symbolizes people that may be less fortunate and need to work hard for a living, which is shown in line 6 “Trodden with the cattle’s feet,” Blake shows that these people understand their roles in life and still remain optimistic. While the pebble in a brook represents those who live more comfortably, but has a pessimistic attitude and view on life. The people that are represented by the clod of clay appreciate love and see it as a beautiful and special gift that improves life shown in line 4 “And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.” On the other hand, those who are represented by the pebble view love as an open window for more hurt and more despair in line 11 “And builds a Hell n Heaven’s despite”.

In this poem, Blake uses phrases to portray his view on love through the clod of clay. In lines 1-5 Blake states his view of what love should be “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.” Meaning that regardless of all the terrible things that occurs in the world love endures and can overcome all obstacles. Blake also expresses that love is not for self – gratification, but to please another, the one they love. In line 3 Blake says, “for another gives its ease.” meaning that one will give up the simplicity of taking care of oneself and take up the responsibility of caring for the one they love.

In contrast, with the phrases he uses and through the pebble Blake reveals on how the concept of love is perverted in lines 8-11 “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.” In the final stanza Blake reveals that love is no longer perceived as a self – less attitude, but something that is to please one’s self and something that does no good. For example, in line 8 it says “Love seeketh only Self to please,” To emphasize the self – gratification with this perverted view on love Blake capitalizes the “Self”. Blake shows that the type of people represented by the pebble do not appreciate life and only care for themselves.

Another way Blake shows that love is special and is easily perverted in his poem “The Sick Rose”. Blake refers to the rose, which is a symbol of love, in line 6 as “crimson joy”. While in this poem this rose is “destroyed” by a worm. A worm is a phallic symbol and a symbol of death. The destruction of the rose in line 7 is referred to as ” his dark secret love”..

In “The Clod and the Pebble” Blake uses certain words to better portray his views on love. In lines 4 and 11 the word “build” is stated, but mean two different things. When it is stated in line 4 Blake uses the word “build” to portray the image of how love can improve life. While the word “build” in line 11 is used to give the reader a sense of accumulation meaning that over time hurt and pain will accumulate due to love. Also, in lines 4 and 11 the last words in these lines are “despair” and “despite”. Line 4 says, “builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair” meaning that although life may be really tough love will overcome. On the other hand, in line 11 “builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite” meaning that no matter what good is happening the viewer will only see the bad side.

Blake tends to use words that have multiple meaning. Also, words that is similar to one another. In result, this gives the reader a fuller understanding of his views. Though, his poems are short they contain so much information.

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