Saturday, July 9, 2011

Building my Beach, 1 Grain of Sand at a Time

posted by Melissa
that possibly topless person is not me.
I did it!

I memorized my first poem yesterday.  It as passed on to me from my friend, Abbe, in Baltimore.  First, I recited it to Jamie this morning.  I even recited it in front of Amy today.  I noticed she averted her eyes, guess she's been keeping up with my posts.  Although, I felt totally fine if she had watched me.  I stumbled through the words at first and mistakenly thought I forgot the third line.  I stated over and went smoothly through.

It turns out it is an excerpt from a longer poem, and who knows, maybe I'll be inspired to learn the whole thing.  I memorized the part in bold type, lines 57-62.


Auguries of Innocence

William Blake (1757–1827)


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.

A robin redbreast in a cage        5
Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.        10
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing,        15
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm’d for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul.        20
The wild deer, wand’ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus’d breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve        25
Has left the brain that won’t believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever’s fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov’d by men.        30
He who the ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by woman lov’d.
The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider’s enmity.
He who torments the chafer’s sprite        35
Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgment draweth nigh.        40
He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer’s song        45
Poison gets from slander’s tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy’s foot.
The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist’s jealousy.        50

The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
Are toadstools on the miser’s bags.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;        55
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro’ the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.        60
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Throughout all these human lands
Tools were made, and born were hands,        65
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright,
And return’d to its own delight.        70
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar’s rags, fluttering in air,        75
Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier, arm’d with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.
The poor man’s farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.        80
One mite wrung from the lab’rer’s hands
Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant’s faith        85
Shall be mock’d in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne’er get out.
He who respects the infant’s faith
Triumphs over hell and death.        90
The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt        95
Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour’s iron brace.        100
When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket’s cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile        105
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt,
They’d immediately go out.        110
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation’s fate.
The harlot’s cry from street to street        115
Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet.
The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,        120
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie        125
When we see not thro’ the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;        130
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

It felt like a lot to me, and took a good hour to memorize.  And now when I see it in the midst of the rest of the poem, my accomplishment seems small.  Like the grain of sand Blake refers to in the first couple lines.  But without each grain of sand, there would be no beach to lay out in the sun upon.  So, I'll take my grain and be happy with it, and build onto it until I have my own beach.  One grain of sand at a time.

-Melissa

2 comments:

Alan said...

It's not small. It's a pretty major task. I've been working this year on EE Cumming's 'As Freedom is a Breakfastfood':

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
—long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald men’s hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
—long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung

or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common’s rare and millstones float
—long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late

worms are the words but joy’s the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
—time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough

Melissa said...

Wow! Alan, that poem is amazing. Whenever I read ee cummings I find I have to slow myself down, it feels so easy to read faster and faster, perhaps it is the lack of punctuation?
I also like this poem named "anyone lived in a pretty how town" and "next to of course god america i"
All of them have me reading so fast that I don't have time to "get" the poem but somehow by then end, after floating over top of the meaning l land and have a strong sense of life, and all of it's wonderful dichotomies.
Thanks for sharing, Alan.
-Melissa