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William Blake's "The Clod and the Pebble", one of his Songs of Experience published in 1794, is a deceptively simple three-stanza poem. In it the poet personifies a lump of clay which, though trodden underfoot by cattle, nevertheless sings that love is selfless, oblivious to its own needs. In this way of acting, it creates a heaven in the midst of despair. The other voice in the poem is that of a pebble in a brook. Its view is that love is completely self-absorbed. It creates a hell in the midst of heaven. The poet thus leaves the reader with a dilemma: Is being clodlike, trampled upon, yet providing the soil for nurturing the growth of God's kingdom on earth the better choice? Or are the human attractions of selfishness too powerful to overcome, thus consigning this world to despair?
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