The clod and the clay - William Blake - Commentary



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Love as an union of discordant forces: soft and hard, resistant and malleable, ductile and rigid, ready to change and unchanging.
As we consider both the sides of the coin we should know that an adolescent love is essentially different from an adult one. This is what William Blake is trying to express in this poem: he wants to represent the deep discrimen between two different ways of considering the essence of love.
In this poem there are two speakers that are answering to the question: what is the essence of love? The first one is giving a positive opinion about love and the second one, maybe an adult, is giving his negative interpretation.
The poem is very short. There are three stanzas: the first and the last are two reported speech; the second one reflects the direct presence of the poet. There is a careful sense of order: all the poem is well organized by a canon of symmetry. All the words on the first stanza are strictly connected whit their opposite meaning in the last stanza.
The poet is using a metaphor to express the two contrasting natures of love: the innocent love is symbolized by a ”Clod of Clay”(a small clump of earth) and the experienced one by a pebble (a small stone made smooth by water).
William Blake has a rousseauian view of life: the right values are going to be destroyed during the growth of a man by the acquiring of the experience. Love, in a first time, is a feeling strongly influenced by imagination: life appears as a bed of roses by the eyes of an adolescent lover. Imagination is quickly vanishing with the experience. So love is continuously changing itself from a wonderful thing in our life into an irrational impulse of selfishness.