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William Blake

4 Pages 919 Words

“The human abstract” written by William Blake depicts actual human nature while, satirically, its title suggests the human ideal. With the help of a group of critical materials, the theme and symbolism of the poem, through my point of view, will be divulged, verse-by-verse and stanza-by-stanza, through the images conveyed by the poet. One must keep in mind that Blake placed this poem among his “Songs of Experience” for it is a realization through the experience of man that, much like the saying “a doctor can not exist without disease”*, evil must be present in our world for there to be good as the first stanza illustrates.
“Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor:
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we;”*
It begins with a quite severe criticism of innocence through its’ divine attributes such as “pity” and “mercy”. Out of this context, these can be considered quite noble feelings, but here, they stem from the “poor” and the unhappy created by human society that is precisely addressed by “we” at the beginning of the second verse. The first and third verses, pronounced as calamities, unveil that, to the speaker, these attributes are “more important than the happiness of all”* perhaps because they provoke an “alleviation of sorrow”* for the person acting mercifully or feeling pity for another. Hence, the structure of the last verse “as happy as we” to emphasize the inequality of joy.
“And mutual fear brings peace;
Till the selfish loves increase.
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.”*
The “divine attributes of innocence”, in the second stanza, undergo a sinister metamorphosis to prepare for “Blake’s naturalistic fall of man”*, much like the traditional fall commonly known as the story of Adam and Eve, it involves a tree. Man is seen as such a chaotic creature that only fear of one another can...

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