Poetry Review: “The Clod and the Pebble” by William Blake

"Creator" by William Blake

“Creator” by William Blake

Thanksgiving is past. It is the first Sunday in Advent. The themes for today’s readings are light and hope. William Blake seems appropriate somehow.

“The Clod and Pebble” is one of Blake’s more familiar poems. It also happens to be one of my daughter Dylan’s favorites. And one of mine. She first read the poem in a high school English class. Most recently, however, she read it again from a little volume of Blake that I picked up in a used bookstore in the French Quarter in New Orleans in 1985.

I remember where I picked up a number of the books I own and love: Yeat’s Autobiographies in a little bookstore in Boston near the Boston Commons; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in a store in downtown Spokane, Washington; Auden’s Selected Poems in Hyde Park, Chicago, on a shelf just above and to the left of the complimentary hot water and tea bags table…. The list goes on. Books as souvenir, reminders of places I have been… places where I have read.

I carried the little volume of Blake and the poem “The Clod and the Pebble” with me on a cross-country Greyhound Bus Pass excursion across the South and the Midwest and back to Montana. It reminds of that trip and a time long gone.

My daughter reads now out of the same volume. A gift from Blake to me… and now to her.

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.”


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