Sometimes I like to open up a book – any book on my shelf – to a random page and take inspiration from the first lines that my eyes fall on. Or I like to imagine that the very randomness of my action somehow imparts meaning to the moment. (Magical thinking, I suppose…) At any rate, today I opened up a book of collected poems and landed on William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence. This poem begins with the famous lines:
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.
I’ve always liked these lines, but I don’t believe I’ve ever read the whole poem. Today I did and I was riveted by it. I’ve always loved the work of William Blake – both his poetry and beautiful engravings – but I was surprised by how captivated I was by the entirety of his boldly worded, imagistic epigrams. He has been called a mystic and this poem surely shows why. Here is another part of the poem:
The Beggar’s Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
The Soldier, arm’d with Sword and Gun,
Palsied strikes the Summer’s Sun.
Sometimes, when I’m out walking the dogs and pass the many homeless men and women pushing their carts stacked high with scavenged possessions, then come home to my little hovel and watch the news to see what’s going on in the world, I can’t help but wonder about the state of things. These epigrams (even to not-so-innocent eyes) certainly sum it up.