How does William Blake show the insufficiency of unselfish love in "The Clod and the Pebble"?how does his view of the dual nature of love contradict a Biblical view of the subjuect ?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this poem, Blake seems to be saying that the unselfish love that the clod praises is too weak.  He seems to me to be saying that the clod is about to be trampled by the cow's hooves and all its love will not do it any good.

This is in direct conflict with, at the very least, a New Testament view of love.  The pebble's view does not match up with the Beatitudes, for example.  I cannot see the pebble being characterized as meek or pure in spirit.  But yet it seems to be saying (and Blake seems to agree) that it will inherit the earth.

epollock | Student

These poems by William Blake show the difficulty inherent in defining and conceiving of love. Each presents what amounts to a dialogue on love, and might be approached as such. By discussing the various ideas that the dual voices in the poem suggest, one can be drawn into a dialogue that centers on the various ways to define love, love for things, and love for creation.

In "The Clod and the Pebble," love is presented by the clod as altruistic. One can consider how the nature of a "clod of clay"—soft, malleable, and capable of enduring the crushing force of the cattle—suggests a willingness to reshape itself in order to "give another ease" and "build a Heaven in Hell’s despair." Conversely, the pebble—representing a hard, unchangeable element—instead will treat love as self-serving, and, in the process, "joys in another’s loss of ease." One might consider how the physical substance of each, felt beneath one’s bare feet, might create sensory images that describe two varying sensations of love.