"The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits." G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some thoughts on William Blake's ..... AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE

‎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.

Upon some reflection, one may start developing a sense of empathy for the somewhat
romantic and existential character of that perennial plea uttered by humanity, ringing out with a tone of longing, it’s echo reverberating through the Platonic realm, and reflecting back here so softly that only the hearts of poets can hear it.


Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,

Some are born to endless night.

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

I'm sure there may be numerous ways of interpreting this poem, and maybe even some of them could be considered as better than others? But it seems that the content of the poem itself opposes the existence of any hierarchy which should serve as the absolute measure of any interpretation's alleged objective adequacy. This, perhaps could be an interesting direction of inquiry in itself, but not one which I presently wish to pursue. Instead I will share some of my reflections inspired by the poem.
What I've noticed, prompted by reflections meandering toward the blurry boundaries of
 the poem's subject matter, is the apparent content-relational continuity between the first, and the last few stanzas, and the message their interplay carries. It's plausible that the author intended this symmetry, if not throughout the entire poem then at least between its first and the last stanzas.
What it reveals, if one entertains this observation as one not entirely devoid of merit, is
 the conditioning of one's conceptual repertoire to the attributes (nature) of the "realm" they inhabit and experience.
Those who are "doomed" - "to endless night", which is some otherworldly-Heavenly domain - and united with
 God's immanent presence, are perchance privileged having such direct and immediate access to the divine and transcendental nature of reality. Being familiar with that realm, they know too well how it permeates everything, and that it should be evident - "seen" - even in a wildflower - a worldly entity. Sadly, such a particular form of being is absent from the realm of the universal which they dwell in. (Note the mysterious and uncrystallized nature of that which cannot be "seen" i.e. during the "night", and consider the magnitude of that mystery with "endless" predicated of it.)
As they dream of seeing (a blank concept, although entertainable, yet devoid of any experiencial referent), they imagine seeing that which they only know - "heaven" - in an object (the wild flower) endowed with a particular, grounded yet unique nature. If only they were granted that possibility - to experience, if only an infinitesimal fraction of the "realm of day" - no larger than a grain of sand would suffice.
But alas! - their gaze invariably transcends the flower's earthly, finite form, failing to appreciate its pure and simple beauty.
Those who dwell in the "sweet delight", are "blessed" with the clarity offered by the world bathed in the "light of day", and unperturbed by that which cannot be seen, can only relate to the divine in terms of the spatiotemporal boundaries, imposed on them by the "realm" they inhabit, and cannot help but reduce the transcendental to such a conceptual confinement: “Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour”.
This is also why, despite persistently harbouring hopes and dreams - which resemble restless chimeras that rummage anxiously through the most elusive depths of the soul, where mystery, doubt and wonder seek refuge from the syrupy tentacles of the hedonistic bliss - they occasionally experience fleeting suspicions with regard to the "all revealing" "sweet delight" - whether there may not be some paradoxical, and double edged nature to it.
Being conditioned to the "explicated", worldly realm, which overwhelms the eyes with demonstrative, verging on obtrusive, clarity (hence a presumed "absolute clarity"), and crystallized, unambiguously delineated finite forms, one experiences God accordingly - in a familiar and non hesitant manner.
A still further stretched interpretation, on a somewhat relatively deeper reading, would allow seeing
those diverse realms, presented in the poem, as analogues of certain attitudes which we're all free to adopt - or maybe not entirely free, hence the somber tone and categorical emphasis on the phrases "born to ..."
Upon adopting, or tentatively veering toward some preferred
 set of attitudes, we progressively develop, and subsequently reinforce, the positive feedback driven interdependence of our experiential and conceptual repertoire - their character in turn, ultimately presents us with a corresponding manifestation of Being.

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