The Clod and the Pebble – William Blake – Analysis

The Clod and the Pebble

“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 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.”

William Blake

If you want to look at duality in poetry then William Blake will give you plenty of examples. Duality provides contrast and a way of viewing different aspects of the same.
In the above ‘love’ poem the ‘Clod of Clay’ and the ‘Pebble’ are representative of very different aspects of love – the ‘give’ and the ‘take’ that is love – or in the more extreme the ‘Hell’ and the ‘Heaven’.

I think there is a great warning in this poem on the danger of giving oneself too freely and in the process being used by another – ‘trodden with the cattle’s feet’ – the music created by such an image is quite down beat! Not an easy task to ‘build a Heaven in Hell’s despair

In contrast I love the pebble knowing of itself … and with warbled music (like a bird) … responding through the stream of life … and asking others to join in its delight – to move out of their comfort zone – ‘builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite’ … there is warning here too that in the joining of another ‘Heaven’ itself might become corrupted in the process. However the pebble is a pretty strong symbol – a rock able to survive the ravages of time.

Love has never been an easy process … love does both destroy and create.

Rhyming scheme – abab cdec afaf
Rhythm – ^ ^^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ iambic tetrameter
Nice balance – 6 lines of Clay v 6 lines of Pebble

Your word in my ear ...

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