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.
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.
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;
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.