"The Clod and the Pebble"
· "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."
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.
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