Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Poem of the Week 8/27/2007: On Anothers Sorrow

On Anothers Sorrow

Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers frief,
And not seek for kind relief.

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father seehis child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan an infant fear--
No no never can it be.
Never never can it be.

And can he who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small birds grief & care
Hear the woes that infants bear--

And not sit beside the nest
Pouring pit in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near
Weeping tear on infants tear.

And not sit both night & day,
Wiping all our tears away.
O! no never can it be.
Never never can it be.

He doth give his joy to all.
He becomes an infant small.
He becomes a man of woe
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not, thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy maker is not by.
Think not, thou canst weep a tear,
And thy maker is not near.

O! he gives to us his joy,
That our grief he may destroy
Till our grief is fled & gone
He doth sit by us and moan

William Blake 1790

What a complex end this poem has--we are given compassion for redemption, is this correct? In the beginning, Blake writes that it is impossible to see suffering without taking it on ourselves. The savior suffered and suffers with us every moment so that we can be relieved, so that we can partake in eternal joy.

This is fundamentally a poem of trust and brotherhood--the lord has made a pact with us, it seems, abiding by a high rule of human life in order to help us live. Furthermore, it asks to trust in our suffering, to not be afraid of suffering because it is always suffered in kinship with others. Through this co-suffering, it is implied, suffering will end. And this we ought to trust.

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