6

The poem "The Clod and the Pebble" from William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience (which you can read online) is just three verses long and compares two different descriptions of love, attributed to a clod of clay and a pebble respectively. The clod says:

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.

The pebble responds:

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.

I'd always thought of this poem as describing two different outlooks on love, perhaps by an optimist and a pessimist, or a believer and a cynic, or a youthful lover and a jaded sceptic. I'd assumed that the love being described is the same thing both times, except in how different people perceive it.

But in his answer about a different poem, Will Crawford analyses "The Clod and the Pebble" as describing two different types of love: specifically, in ancient Greek terminology, agápē (love between human and God) and érōs (romantic love). This sounded interesting enough that I'm posting a new question about it to learn more detail.

What is the evidence that "The Clod and the Pebble" is about two different types of love, rather than two different people's perceptions of love?

  • 2
    This is sort of tangential, but I think it's interesting that the clod, which gets stomped on by cattle all day, thinks that love is selfless, whereas the selfish interpretation comes from a pebble that has an easy life (whatever sort of life a pebble has) sitting in the sun by the brook all day. – Torisuda Mar 4 '18 at 1:16
  • 2
    @Torisuda I always thought this fit well with my interpretation: the downtrodden clod is willing to sacrifice itself for what it loves, while the privileged pebble is cold and full of disdain. – Rand al'Thor Mar 4 '18 at 1:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.