Consider William Blakes presentation of love in the poem The Clod and the Pebble.

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Selected: Songs of Ourselves

(b) Paying close attention to language and form, write a critical appreciation of the following poem, considering William Blake’s presentation of love in the poem ‘The Clod and the Pebble’.

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 5

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, 10

Joys in another's loss of ease,

And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite."

The ostensible cuteness of the poem The Clod and the Pebble perhaps masks a more morbid and deeply cynical assessment of love by the poet William Blake. Initially, the contrast between the clod and the pebble’s speeches on love might encourage a positive response to the clod’s optimism about how love can rescue us from even the most hellish position. The pebble’s pessimism about love, on the other hand, is unpleasant and unsettling, but it’s also a more accurate reflection of the brutal nature of the world as it is depicted in the poem. Blake’s presentation of love, then, is ambivalent. While the ideal that love is able to overcome any circumstance is appealing, it might not be a realistic assessment in the context of the world’s cruelty.
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Blake’s personification of the clod and the pebble captures two very different human experiences. We are told that the clod is “trodden with the cattle’s feet.” With the word “trodden” Blake captures the experience of continual hardship, and being repeatedly downtrodden, subjugated and abused. There is also tactile imagery of weight and pressure from the “cattle’s feet,” restricting the clod and forcing it into a new shape. In this way, the clod is described as though it experiences human suffering. It makes us think about someone who has had to become flexible to fit the continual hardship of ...

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