Infinity in Your Hand

Infinite Reflections

I’ve quoted William Blake before:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Ireland 1121

In another portion of the same poem, Blake describes the natural world as an everlasting counterpoint to man’s baser instincts and acts.

He writes of endless cycles, of sunrise and ocean waves and animals giving birth.  I see Blake’s Möbius ribbon of a poem as combating some aggressively positive enduring notions in popular culture–like that of absolution through the “easy fix”: a misbegotten miserly life is redeemed by dispensing a chunk of wealth very late in the game,  a ringing bell signifies an angel getting his wings after one character’s felonious behavior has been tidied up with a little help from limbo.

I admit the possibility that my line of work makes me read such words in a particular way, but I am not a fan of the facile fix, the deus ex machina after someone has made a choice hurtful to another living being.   Such intentional (or even unthinking) wrongs can lead to infinite repercussions in the order of things.

In Blake’s poetic world, the very universe grows aghast–although it does not, as in W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues, shut down–in response to what human beings have wrought.  

In Blake’s poem,  for every “skylark wounded in the wing,/A cherubim does cease to sing.” To arm a game cock “for fight/Does the rising sun affright.”


The wild deer, wand’ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus’d breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.

Ireland 1071

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;

Ireland 1264

This is caught by females bright,
And return’d to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.

Ireland 752

Author: Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She attended law school near the the banks of the Charles River and loves that dirty water; she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

12 thoughts on “Infinity in Your Hand”

  1. I know. I struggle with my forgiveness of others – others who could have made a real difference and chose not to – who chose become ostriches instead of acting. What you say is so heartbreakingly true: “wrongs can lead to infinite repercussions in the order of things.” I guess my elusive goal is to try to forgive, and/or let go, somehow, and also to make a difference based on what I’ve learned in the difficult process…but the rage against the peers who do nothing is hard is real and doesn’t go away easy….but hopefully ….

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