“The Clod & the Pebble” lacks an obvious contrary in the Songs of Innocence, itself containing its own internal dissonance and not requiring a counterpoint. The tension is that between the malleable and the rigid, self-abnegation and assertion of the will, acquiescence and defiance.  The clod is flexible and yielding and thereby subsumed into a greater than singular experience, i.e. mashed back into the earth by hooves; the pebble is intransigent, stalwart in the midst of flux, i.e. the brook, and, as such, retains its singularity. The two become representative of the dialectical tension between self-effacing (“seeketh not Itself to please”) and egocentric love (“seeketh only Self to please, / To bind another to its delight”). In the latter, love can only regard the beloved as object, something to be possessed; in the former, all obligation to the self and identity apart from the beloved is dispensed with. Each is given equal heft in the poem, with the first and third stanzas nearly mirror opposites of each other syntactically as well as in message. “The Clod & the Pebble” seeks to reconcile antimony by way way of a negotiated dialectic–operating in a manner synecdochic for the Songs of Innocence and of Experience proper–and irony. That a dirt clod and a pebble are taken as metaphors for differing types of affection is something of a comic undercutting for such a traditionally loftily-treated subject. The usual rhetoric trappings are cast aside in favor for simple particulars. The pastoral Songs of Innocence satirize the more tragic Songs of Experience and vice versa, illustrating what are, for Blake, the contrary, inevitably interwoven states of the soul. This is not deadlock, rather more akin to cross-pollination, as the poetic spirit unfurls itself in fighting, in reconciling such tensions.

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