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The Clod and the Pebble

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Tiffany Shreves

on 11 December 2013

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Transcript of The Clod and the Pebble

It's been a mystery
And still they try to see
Why somethin' good can hurt so bad
Caught on a one-way streets
The taste of bittersweet
Love will survive somehow, some way

One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
Wonder who's cryin' now
Two hearts born to run
Who'll be the lonely one
Wonder who's cryin' now
So many stormy nights
So many wrongs or rights
Neither could change
Their headstrong ways
And in a lover's rage
They tore another page
The fightin' is worth
The love they save

One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
Wonder who's cryin' now
Two hearts born to run
Who'll be the lonely one
Wonder who's cryin' now
Only so many tears you can cry
'Til the heartache is over
And now you can say your love
Will never die

Ooooooh-whoa, ooh-whooa

One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
Wonder who's cryin' now
Two hearts born to run
Who'll be the lonely one
Wonder who's cryin' now
The Clod and the Pebble
Discussion Questions
Figurative Language
Author Info
William Blake was born in London England in 1757 and died in the year 1827. He was a writer, an engraver, and a painter, and claimed that many of his works were inspired by visions given to him by God throughout his life. His first vision was said to be at age 10, when he saw a tree full of angels. He grew up drawing and writing, and attended the Royal Academy of Art’s Schools of Design in 1780. In 1782, Blake married Catherine Sophia Boucher, and he taught her to read, write, and draw. He published his first collection of poems, which he had been writing for fourteen years, in the year 1783. Blake’s brother, Robert, died of tuberculosis at age 24 in the year 1787, and this greatly impacted his later poetry.
Throughout his life, Blake was commissioned to paint watercolors from the scenes of famous literature such as Milton, Dante, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Some referred to Blake and his published pieces as nonsense, and many critics commented very negatively on his work, calling Blake “an unfortunate lunatic”. In his last few years of life, Blake developed a disease which had no name at the time. He died on August 12, 1827. It was not until after Blake’s death that he became respected as the literary genius, artist, and visionary that he is today.
Songs of Innocence was originally a complete work first printed in 1789. It is a collection of 19 poems, engraved with artwork. Songs of Experience is a poetry collection of 26 poems forming the second part of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The poems were published in 1794. These poems showed the two sides of not only love, but of life as well, and how your perspectives changes as you go from naive and inexperienced to being more closed off and hardened after exposure to the harsh realities of life.
"So sung a little Clod of Clay" Line 5
"But a Pebble of the brook/ warbled out these metres meet" Lines 7 & 8
"Love seeketh not itself to please" & "Love seeketh only self to please" Lines 1 & 9
Your Discussion Activity
Write at least one page (just the front of a page)
about how the author's background could have
affected his interpretation of love, as is seen in this
poem. Cite at least two specific lines from the poem to support your idea.
Time for a group activity!
Now it's time for...
Rhyme Scheme?
The Clod and the Pebble
"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."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"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."
Definition of "Clod"
1. a lump of earth or clay.
2. a stupid person (often used as a general term of abuse).
It brings to life the idea of love, and makes it much easier to make the symbolic connections throughout the poem.
The Clod - The Clod is symbolic for a kind of love that is innocent and with an open heart. The fact that the Clod is trampled by the cattle in line 6 represents the ability of a selfless love to change, but also the unfortunate susceptibility to heartbreak . It emphasizes the idea that, in order to experience true, pure love, you have to be willing to have your heart broken. In line 4, it says "And build a Heaven in Hell's despair", which shows that a selfless love can find true happiness despite its heartbreak.
The Pebble - The Pebble is symbolic for the opposite of the Clod. The pebble represents a love that is selfish and closed off. This is shown in line 9, when the pebble says "Love seeketh only Self to please". The pebble has been worn by the brook, which represents the troubles and heartbreaks of life, but unlike the clod, the pebble has let the hurt it has felt eradicate its hope, and therefore the pebble misses out on the beauty of true love, as shown in line 12 when it says "And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite".
"Who's Crying Now" by Journey
Thanks for watching!
1. “One love feeds the fire/One heart burns desire” (lines 7 & 8) These lines have a lot to do with the connotation of the poem. Where do you think the Clod and Pebble fall into these two lines? Which do you think they represent?
2. How do you think that the “So many stormy nights” in line 13 relate to the cattle’s feet and the brook in the poem? What do you think is similar about them? What is different?

3. The song has a lot to do with a love between two people. Do you believe that the poem talks two people who are in love, or just love in general? What aspects of love from both the poem and the song apply to what kinds of relationship?
Poetry Analysis
We can see the primary shift in the poem between the lines 5 & 6 when it says "So sung a little Clod of clay, trodden with the cattle's feet" and the lines 7 & 8 when it says "But a Pebble of the brook, warbled out these metres meet". In The Clod and the Pebble, the shift is that of both the subject, from the Clod to the Pebble, but also abou the ideas and personification of love. The shift also helps to establish the flow as well as to categorize stanzas 1 & 2.
There is repetition between the 1st and 3rd stanza that helps to tie together the ideas and overall concepts of the poem. We see this between line 1, which says "Love seeketh not itself to please" & line 9, which says "Love seeketh only self to please". Though the ideas expressed in these lines are direct opposites, the repetition of phrasing helps to elucidate the distinct difference in ideas between the Clod and the Pebble. There is another example that helps to emphasize how the Clod and the Pebble are each the antithesis of the other. We see this example between line 4, which says "And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair" & line 12, which says "And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite". This uses powerful diction and imagery to contrast the concepts of the Clod and the Pebble by using to ideas that are widely known to be exact opposites: Heaven and Hell. Normally, repetition emphasizes similarities within a poem, but in The Clod and the Pebble, it helps to show contrasting ideas.
Paraphrase: (12 lines)
-Some love doesn’t seek to please itself; it seeks to please others with an open heart.
-This love doesn’t care about itself or its own condition; it is concerned about others.
-This love gives others a sense of ease and protection through its own self-imposed suffering or willingness to take on hardships
-This kind of love makes other people feel beautiful and happy, making something beautiful come out of his/her own heartbreak and willingness to get hurt in pursuit of love
-A person who has an open heart also has an optimistic attitude, despite their previous trials and heartbreaks, and even though they are more open to abuse and are more easily molded and susceptible to forced compliance or change.
-This person with an open heart is more susceptible to being molded and pushed into compliance or made to be flexible and dynamic.
-Other love is hard, smooth, and defensive, having been lulled into a state of weary and skeptical isolation from love after many years or experiences with heartbreak.
-This kind of love does not sing, it warbles warnings of its experience:
- This love is selfish and seeks to please itself
-This love seeks to command others to enjoy their company and their lives to share their love, and will not be molded by anything or any sort of compromise
-This type of love is built on a beautiful safety and idea, but can be just as bad as life without love when actualized in reality, because it can prevent a true, innocent love from developing.
-And building something prideful and non-desirable out of something that should be beautiful, causing pain for others around them

Title: The Clod and the Pebble (Clod is a lump of earth and/or a general term of abuse)
- “So sung a little Clod of Clay… Trodden with the cattle’s feet,” When you first read this, you don’t really see the hidden message behind it. However, if you read it more, and take the time to look up the definition, you can see that the sentence can have more than one meaning. Clod is normally considered a piece of earth, something like clay or soil. Only, Clod has two definitions; the second one is used mainly in abuse. The second line says “Trodden with the cattle’s feet”, well what if the ‘cattle’s feet’ aren’t really referring to cow’s hooves. The cattle’s feet symbolize human fear and problems. Clay is a very movable type of earth, it molds to what steps onto it. So this is saying that sometimes we let our troubles shape and mold us, and no matter how hard we try, we still get stomped on. We let our hearts be open to change and that somehow take advantage of them. Change isn’t a kind thing to the heart, it can twist it and crush it. Yet there we are, welcoming it into our hearts through an open door. We then become molded and shaped because of the change and the fear that we allowed to enter. For once the door is open, it can not be easily closed. Notice how Clod is capitalized, this gives you the sense that it means something other than what it’s telling you.
- “But a Pebble of the brook… Warbled out these metres meet:” A pebble doesn’t always start out as smooth and soft as you would normally think. They are rocks, often times, quite large ones. Rocks are very firm and don’t easily adjust to change. However, when they are placed in the water, they are worn down, eventually. The brook, again, symbolizes fear, change, and human problems. So its saying that we can often times be stubborn and stand too firm against our challenges. However, we let them flow over us, swallow us, yet we still stand our ground. Over time, we are smoothed over and all our hard edges and sharp points are worn down. We are changed forever and we don’t sing like the clay; we warble out our warnings about our experiences and how we were changed at heart. How we were once daring and bold, then over time, we became worn down with the nagging fear. We had changed in loved and never saw it the same way again. Notice how pebble is capitalized, this tells you that the pebble is going to play a bigger role than expected.
-This poem definitely doesn’t end the same way. It starts off saying that love is selfless; that it’s only love if it only cares for others. Then it goes on to talk about the heart and how love works with change, love, and fear. Then the author seems to almost rethink what he said in the first stanza because, in the last stanza, the complete opposite of what he said in the beginning is said in the last stanza.
- Some key words to remember include love, selfless, selfish, Hell, Heaven, Clod, Pebble, and another. These words help you recognise the shift in the mood and process that the author has.
Title Revisited: The Clod and the Pebble
-We can now see that the clod and the pebble are symbolic for the two ideas not only of love, but of the human nature or condition as well, that the clod represents the innocent, selfless, hopeful, and moldable love that is completely focused on hope and making the other person happy, while the clod represents the cold, closed, selfish kind of love that comes when one feels the need to suit one’s own needs before the other person’s, and puts up walls to prevent themselves from being hurt, which ends up hurting all people involved.
-The poem tells you that love can be selfless and selfish at the same time. While at times it may only seem to be one or the other, it all depends on how you view it. If you view the troubles with love with an open heart and welcome change, then your fears and problems will stomp upon you until you have no choice but to mold your heart into what the fear and love wants it to be. If you view the troubles with love with a standing strong belief and refuse to move from your firm stance in your love, then the troubles and problems will eventually flow over you and smooth you down into what the love wants you be. It will take the determination, like the edges and sharp point on a rock, and gently sooth them into a silky texture. So the open heart is shaped much faster, and the strong heart is molded much slower. The choice of what you want is up to you.
-There are a few attitudes in this poem. The first attitude is located in the beginning of the poem and is informational, as if telling you about something. In this case, that something is love. Then as we get to the second stanza, the attitude changes a little bit. It goes from informing us to almost seems to be quizzing us. Like a riddle, seeing if we can catch the true meaning. The attitude is wisdom. Then it changes again in the last stanza. While very similar to the first one, it contains information, this has almost an undertone to it. Kind of like a warning, or bad news.
•The author begins the poem by saying that love is only selfless and ends by saying that love is only selfish. How do the contrasting statements affect you as a reader and why? Do you think it can be only one or the other?
•Figuratively, how do you think the “Clod of clay” and “a Pebble of the brook” are similar? How are they different?
•“To bind another to it’s delight” Does binding someone to something you love sound positive or negative to you? How does your reaction correspond to the poem?
•We said earlier that the Clod is getting tortured by it’s fears, and yet it sings. While the Pebble is standing strong and it warbles and struggles. Why do think the Clod sings and is happy, and yet the Pebble stands for what it believes and struggles to by?
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