Blake. The Clod and the Pebble

Essay by swarnamali April 2011

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How does William Blake's 'The Clod and the Pebble', portray realistic ideas of our society?

Blake's poem The Clod and the Pebble uses powerful imagery to portray opposing ideas of love.

The clod which is soft and flexible and the pebble which is hard serve as mouthpieces for the opposing conceptions of love Blake presents to the reader.

It is commonly accepted that the arrangement of the stanzas of the poem is vital as there are 3 verses. The first, seems to deal with the heavenly characteristics of Love which is selflessness . The second focuses on the more earthly characteristics of Love. The final stanza explains the hellish characteristics of love. Based on this, it can be said that Blake has created a kind of model of the universe/world, or a hierarchy of love as we can see Heaven on top, Earth coming second and then Hell.

However, I'd like to discuss my understanding of the poem in another way.

The lines:

Love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself hath any care, But for another gives its ease,

portray the essential quality of the clod which is selflessness. This is a good human quality. However, this also shows an extreme, which I feel is not good. The clod stands for the person who is constantly the giver in the relationship

The hard pebble stands for the lover who is taking & taking and is selfish. The basic idea of human greed and selfishness is brought out clearly.

However, Some critics say that Blake is not intending to applaud the attitude of the clod as it stands for total subjugation and degradation which is not desirable because, in a relationship, certain degree of assertion and self respect is needed. The Christian definition of love is not...