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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Clod and the Pebble summary and analysis and themes

William Blake
·         "A Structuralism Reading of William Blake"

A Structuralism Analysis of "The Clod and the Pebble"
Ali Groeller and Jessica Semelroth, 2008

"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 anther to Its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite."

 Heaven                     Hell

Selfless                        selfish
Clod                            pebble
Sung                           warbled
Humble                       prideful
Cattle                          brook

Love is a common theme in the literary world, but none talk of it with such fluency as William Blake.  In William Blake's poem, "The Clod and the Pebble," his use of heaven and it's connotations with selflessness reveal that only by giving away oneself, and allowing others to use us, can we be truly rewarded by our love.

In the first stanza of the poem, Blake describes the clods perspective of love.  In the clod's view, love is seen as a selfless, caring, and even amenable force.  His perspective of love seems almost religious, with how pure and innocent his ideas are, and is further cemented as a religious perspective due to the fact that this love, "builds a Heaven…," and also since it comes from a clod made of clay, which represents the medium god supposedly used to create man.  The connection between the clod, and the fact that it believes love to be a wonderful amazing power,   indicates that only a clod or something that is lowly and, "trodden with the cattle's feet," would feel this way, since the pebble, as something which represents a more sophisticated or a higher beings view point, says that love is selfish and sadistic. The confliction of the two earthly objects views on love leads to the unveiling of the concept that love is only beneficial to one if he or she is willing to sacrifice and humble oneself, such as the clod did, and that love can be disastrous when used in a self centered manner.

The connection between the objects and their views on love also form another layer of truth to the nature of love.  The pebble, which is something that is arguable more valued than a clod, is represented as the wiser or more educated being in poem, which could represent a person of higher intellects views on love, while a clod or fool, believes in an idealistic fantastical view of love.  On this basis it becomes clear that Blake is saying that only the dimwitted individual believes love is a holy thing, and that a person with any intelligence will know that love can be a cruel and destructive force

Proofread my lieterary analysis on The clod and the pebble by william blake?
William Blake’s “The Clod and the Pebble” we see the two metaphors used to describe the contrasting sides of love. Blake uses a Clod and a Pebble as his metaphors for love. The clod exemplifies a selfless kind of heavenly love, while the pebble represents a stubborn and selfish kind of love. The theme of the poem is the two contrasting sides of love represented by a clod and a pebble. William Blake says loving others “builds heaven in hell’s despair.” That is the kind of love Blake thinks we should strive for in this poem.
The clod in Blake’s poem is a metaphor for a selfless pure kind of love. The Clod represents a heavenly biblical love, which puts others in front of him. Blake stated at the beginning of his poem, “Love seeketh not itself to please,/ Nor for itself hat any care,/ But for another gives it ease( 1,2,3).” The clod gets joy out of helping others. A clod is soft, and it will not hurt someone. It can be molded, changed stepped on, and squished without pain for anyone. The clod also represents a person full of innocence. It represents a person that has not been drove to the point of being a pebble by the hard times of life. That is why a clod is a perfect metaphor for this kind of love.
The pebble in Blake’s poem is a metaphor for a selfish person that desires everything only for himself. Blake states, “Love seeketh only Self to please,/ To bind another to its delight (9,10).” The pebble has no feelings for anyone except himself. The pebble is the perfect metaphor for selfishness. A pebble is hard, and it will not change. Just like the selfish love that the pebble represents. The pebble is also experienced and has lost its innocence, unlike the clod. The pebble has been jaded by life and expects the worst out of people. This is why the pebble is so self-centered.
Blake also uses heaven and hell as metaphors for the clod and the pebble. Talking about the clod, Blake states, “And builds a heaven in hell’s despair (4).” Heaven is a strong metaphor to use, and that is a very strong compliment to give the clod. However, Blake says the exact opposite about the pebble. Blake states, “And builds a hell in heaven’s despite (12).” These metaphors show that the clod is trying to make the best out of life. The clod wants to turn a hell into a heaven. However, the pebble builds a hell on earth for everyone around him. The metaphors of heaven and hell prove just how contrary the clod and the pebble are.
The clod and the pebble are perfect metaphors for the two kinds of love. They are the exact and complete opposites. Everyone has traits of the clod and the pebble, but they usually have overwhelming traits that determine whether they are a clod or a pebble. Kindness, selflessness, and understanding are good traits of the clod. The pebble possesses selfishness, pride, and stubbornness.

"The Clod and the Pebble"

This poem takes up the refrain of love from the last line of “Earth’s Answer” and explicates two views on the nature of love. The “Clod of Clay” sees love as selfless and giving, building “a Heaven in Hells despair.” The hard “Pebble of the brook,” however, sees love as seeking “only Self to please” in order to eventually build “a Hell in Heavens despite.”
The love that has been bound by Reason, and which must be renewed in order to free Earth from her chains, is thus examined to ask if men love selflessly or selfishly. The difference in perspective aligns with the “experiences” of the two inanimate speakers. The clod has been “Trodden with the cattle’s feet,” so that it is malleable, but also easily shaped to the will of others. The pebble has been hardened by its time in the brook and therefore offers resistance to any who would seek to use it for their own ends. By contrast, the clod is somewhat mobile, whereas the pebble must remain at rest in its place on the bottom of the brook. Blake uses his ironic voice of experience to point out that love, if done according to the edicts of Reason, creates a Hell on earth, whereas selfless love—love from the heart and the ever-adapting Imagination—can make a Heaven out of the Hell surrounding mankind.
Nonetheless, the poem does not allow the reader to side completely with the Clod and its view of love. Both clod and pebble experience loss; the Pebble rejoices in the loss of others, while the Clod rejoices in its own loss of ease. Even the Clod's Heaven is built on the despair of Hell, thus "taking" from another in order to increase. In the "Experienced" mind, exploitation of others is a requirement for progress of any sort.
Structurally, the poem appears at first to be two balanced syllogisms of the respective viewpoints. The word “but” in line 6 is the turning point from the Clod's argument to that of the Pebble. The former argument is one of Innocence, while the second shifts to Experience. That Blake chooses to end the debate with the Pebble's argument lends to this poem an interpretation that favors the Pebble's hardened point of view regarding love. However, the balancing lines "And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair" (line 4) and "And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite" (line 12) force the reader to see the two views as balanced and to reach his own conclusions based on personal experience.

Poem Analysis

Posted by Ragan Glover
William Blake’s “The CLOD and the PEBBLE” provides two thought-provoking interpretations regarding love. The first, which is given by a clod of clay, reasons that love is selfless and that “Love seeketh not Itself to please.” The second, which is given by a pebble, is that love is selfish and that “Love seeketh only Self to please.” Because the word love is personified throughout the poem, it is reasonable to believe that Blake was speaking not specifically of love, but of human nature in general. Furthermore, by examining the symbolism and artwork of this poem, the audience will better understand the contrasting interpretations of love given by the clod and the pebble.
The clod of clay, which speaks first in the poem, represents a naïve perception of the world. The clod of clay also offers a sort of “self-denying version of love” (Essick). “The clod is pliable…and therefore is chosen quite appropriately to represent unselfish love” (Damon). They clod symbolizes innocence to the experience of love. The pebble displays a sense of hope and selflessness, which based on the pebble’s perspective, diminish with experience. In the poem, the clod of clay is “trodden with cattle’s feet” which represents it true, self-sacrificing nature. However, as stated in the previous stanza, despite its sacrifices the clod of clay makes a “heaven in hell’s despair.”
The last stanza of Blake’s poem discusses the pebble, which is considered “hard and selfish” (Damon). The pebble symbolizes experience in love which is very different from the inexperienced clod of clay. The pebble offers a version of love that is based on fulfilling the needs of the self over others.  The pebble looks “to please the self using the beloved as a mean to that end even if this includes bondage and the beloved’s “loss of ease”” (Essick). The last line of the stanza states that the pebble “builds a hell in heaven’s despite.” This statement indicates that the pebble seems to lack the hope that the clod of clay holds onto so dearly. It seems that the experience of love has taught the pebble to build a barrier of defense and hurt others, rather than being hurt.
Accompanying the poem is the artwork that Blake used to further convey his message. The artwork consists of sheep and cows, both of which are considered cattle in his time, a sitting and a leaping frog, and a worm. The cows in the artwork are also considered to represent experience, whereas the sheep represent innocence (Wickstead). The idea that cattle are representative of experience is perhaps attributed to their rugged nature. Sheep are perhaps more delicate cattle, much like the clod of clay is more delicate than the hard pebble. Beyond the cattle, the artwork is not considered to have much more symbolism. In fact, Blake did not even color this piece or art, nor did he include it in his original copy of Songs of Innocence and Experience. Reasoning behind this is suggested to be that the message was “too far developed” for Songs of Innocence and Experience (Wickstead). Instead, Blake chose two other poems that consisted of similar, but less powerful meaning to complete the original copy. Furthermore, the choice to color the artwork and to include it in later printed editions of Songs of Innocence and Experience was made after the death of William Blake.
The message conveyed by the poem “The CLOD and the PEBBLE” is dependent on personal interpretation of love. Blake’s presentation of the clod of clay and the pebble through symbolism demonstrates how the perspective on love can depend on life experience. Following that idea, one who has experienced and perhaps been “hardened” by love might believe that love is selfish and by believing so, act selfishly. However, one who is new and perhaps “soft” to the experience of love, might believe that love is selfless and continue to believe so until he or she is hardened by experience of love. Regardless of interpretation, the poem presents a very old and important question - Are things what we make them or does experience make us?


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 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 the English poet William Blake. Blake was a poet, painter and a printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake´s work is today considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and visual arts.
According to Norhrof Frye, his Blake´s poems form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language”. Others have praised Blake´s visual artistry, at least one modern critic proclaiming Blake “far and away the greatest artist in Britain has ever produced.
Blake is highly regarded today for his expressiveness and creativity, and the philosophical vision that underlies his work.  <Wikipedia.org/wiki/William_ Blake>

The poem was published as a part of his collection Songs of Experience in 1794. His spiritual beliefs are evidenced of here, in which he shows his own distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Songs of  Experience deals with the loss of innocence. Poems are darker, concentrating on more political and serious themes.
The disastrous end of the French Revolution caused Blake to lose faith in the goodness of mankind, explaining much of the volume’s sense of despair. Blake also believed that children lost their innocence through exploitation and from a religious community, which put dogma before mercy. He did not, however, believe that children should be kept from becoming experienced entirely. In truth, he believed that children should indeed become experienced but through their own discoveries, which is reflected in a number of these poems. Blake believed that innocence and experience were “the two contrary states of the human soul”, and true innocence was impossible without experience.
We can say that this poem expresses symbolic references towards innocence and experience. For this reason I will talk about the Songs of Innocence too.
Songs of Innocence was first published by itself in 1789. It mainly consists of poems describing the innocence and joy of the natural world, advocating free love and a closer relationship with God. Its poems have a generally light, upbeat and pastoral feel and are typically written from the perspective of children or written about them.
Both, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, are a series of poems on how we see the world at different stages of our lives. They are, as Blake says himself, “shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul”.
The word “songs” invokes images of musicality, from the pastoral shepherd’s pipe of the Introduction of the Songs of Innocence to the bardic harp of The Voice of The Ancient Bard, concluding Songs of Experience. Each collection shows comparative images of children, babies, religion and the general world in which we live, and how we see things differently when we are first in a state of innocence and when we reach maturity.  <www. Wikipedia.org/wiki/Songs_of_Experience>

The author of this poem was a Romantic poet. Romanticism was a movement is an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated around the middle of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution. It was partly a revolt against aristocratic, social, and political norms of the Enlightenment period and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature in art and literature. The movement stressed strong emotion as a source of  aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror, and the awe experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature.
We have to think that Blake lived in London in the 18th century. The city was supposed to be a place full of opportunities but not the countryside. For this reason, people emigrated from the countryside to the city. This movement was called Industrial Revolution.

The poem is about two different points of view from love. One of view is from The Clod and other is from The Pebble. The two views coexist and each view insures each other. The one can not never exist without the other.
The poem shows contrast between these two personalities (the clod and the pebble). The two contrasting points of view on love.
We can see the theme of love and the different aspects form it: love is altruistic, selfish..

It is not a complex poem. There are two statements from two characters and a comment. Two statements are opposite. It is a basic disagreement, a reply. We can find verbs such as “sung”, “warbled”, which represent the idea of music. We can find a reporting statement from the first speaker. The two participants talk about a third character who is not present. Only the Clod and the Pebble are present. The third character is “love”.
The first line and second line are coordinated but in the third line we have got a different succession because of the word “but” that means that there is a conflict.
We have an image: “Love seeketh not itself to please” means that love is selfless.
The line 1 and 2 indicates that love to the clod is good. The clod´s song is full of optimism

In the second stanza, we have the two participants. The clod is described as “trodden with the cattle feet”, that means that the clod has been trampled on but he does not mind what is going to happen because he accepts that.
In the first line we have the word “clay”, that means that the clod is soft, not hard. Soft means something sentimental, unrealistic, weak.
Later we have the other participant, the Pebble. The Pebble is hard. Hard means something cinical, unsentimental, realistic. He has a different point of view from the Clod. He is someone who has suffered of love. He described love as selfish.
We have another image: the Pebble of the brook. This image says where is the  Pebble. In the brook. This image explains the negative vision that love is or what will be. The Pebble has a negative tone.
In the last line of second stanza, the word “meet” has the idea of “appropiate”.
Why the Pebble´s metres are appropiated? Perhaps there is an ambiguity. The two views are balanced one and other. The one can not exist without the other.

In the third stanza, we have a dark image.
The first line: Love seeketh only Self to please means that love is selfish and for this reason the word “Self” is capitalized.
In the first and third line we can observe: please-ease. These words have an idea of pleasure.
We have another image. Heaven has two meanings:
1)      it is associated with the idea of pleasure.
2)      It is associated with the idea of pain, suffering.
When the poem says: builds a Hell in Heaven´s despite means that the Pebble believes that love corrupts purity, honesty.

The rhyme scheme in the first and third stanza is the same: ABBA.

Personal Response
This poem shows the two contrasting views of love. We can find two participants and maybe we can say that the Clod is a female and the Pebble is a male. Why am I saying this? Because of the characters´s speech since if we see this poem from a context of sexual love, we see that the Clod shows a kind of pure and altruistic love (related with the concept of giving) that belongs to women; and the Pebble shows a selfish love (related with the concept of receiving) that belongs to men.
This poem has been interesting because shows differents points of view. These points of view are present in real life since when we fall in love, our relationship can be good (an altruistic love) or bad (selfish love). You decide what kind of love you want to have. But sometimes it does not depends on you.


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