'On Anothers Sorrow' by William Blake
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Songs of Innocence1789Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief.Can I see a falling tear.
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his 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 bird's grief & care
Hear the woes that infants bear--And not sit beside the nest
Pouring pity in their breast.
And not sit the cradle near
Weeping tear on infant's 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
Editor 1 Interpretation
"On Another's Sorrow": A Moving Poetic Meditation on Empathy and Compassion
William Blake's "On Another's Sorrow" is a profound meditation on human empathy and compassion. Written in 1794, the poem is a part of his collection of poems called "Songs of Experience," which explores the darker and more complex aspects of the human experience.
At its core, "On Another's Sorrow" is a powerful expression of the human capacity for empathy and compassion. The poem explores what it means to truly feel the pain and suffering of others and to be moved to action by that empathy. Through its vivid imagery and beautifully crafted language, the poem challenges us to think about how we can be more compassionate and empathetic towards others, even in the face of great suffering and adversity.
An Overview of the Poem
The poem is made up of three stanzas, each with four lines. The poem has a simple and straightforward structure, but the power of the language and the depth of the emotions conveyed in those few lines is truly remarkable.
The poem begins with the speaker asking a rhetorical question: "Can I see another's woe, / And not be in sorrow too?" This sets the tone for the poem and establishes the central theme of empathy and compassion.
In the second stanza, the speaker goes on to describe how the experience of feeling another's pain can lead to a deeper understanding of our shared humanity. The speaker writes:
"Can I see another's grief, And not seek for kind relief?"
Here, the speaker is suggesting that our ability to feel another's pain should not only move us to sadness but also to action. The speaker is calling on us to act with kindness and compassion towards those who are suffering.
In the final stanza, the speaker expands on this idea, suggesting that the experience of feeling another's pain can lead to a spiritual awakening. The speaker writes:
"Can I see a falling tear, And not feel my sorrow's share?"
Here, the speaker is suggesting that when we truly feel another's pain, it can lead us to a deeper understanding of our own emotions and a greater sense of spiritual connectedness with others.
The poem concludes with the powerful and moving lines:
"O! no never can it be! Never, never can it be!"
These lines are a kind of refrain, repeating the central message of the poem and emphasizing the speaker's belief that empathy and compassion are essential aspects of our shared humanity.
The Language and Imagery of the Poem
One of the most striking aspects of "On Another's Sorrow" is the beauty and power of its language and imagery. From the opening lines, the poem is filled with evocative and vivid language that draws the reader in and creates a powerful emotional resonance.
The poem makes use of a number of powerful images and metaphors, such as the idea of a "falling tear," which captures the fragility and vulnerability of human emotions, or the image of "another's woe," which suggests the deep interconnectedness of our human experience.
Throughout the poem, the language is rich and evocative, with each line building on the ones that came before to create a sense of emotional depth and complexity. The repetition of the phrase "Can I" in the first two stanzas creates a sense of urgency and emotional intensity that drives the poem forward.
Overall, the language and imagery of "On Another's Sorrow" are both beautiful and deeply moving, highlighting the power of poetry to capture complex emotions and ideas in a few simple and powerful words.
The Significance of the Poem
At its core, "On Another's Sorrow" is a powerful meditation on human empathy and compassion. The poem challenges us to think about the ways in which we can be more compassionate and empathetic towards others, even in the face of great suffering and adversity.
Through its vivid imagery and beautifully crafted language, the poem highlights the deep interconnectedness of our human experience and suggests that our ability to feel another's pain is an essential aspect of our shared humanity.
In this way, "On Another's Sorrow" is a deeply significant work of poetry that speaks to us across the centuries and reminds us of the power of empathy and compassion to transform our lives and our world.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry On Another's Sorrow: A Masterpiece of Empathy and Compassion
William Blake, the renowned English poet, painter, and printmaker, is known for his visionary and mystical works that explore the complexities of human emotions and spirituality. Among his many masterpieces, "Poetry On Another's Sorrow" stands out as a poignant and powerful expression of empathy and compassion.
Written in 1794, "Poetry On Another's Sorrow" is a short poem that consists of four quatrains, each with a rhyme scheme of ABAB. The poem begins with the speaker asking a rhetorical question: "Can I see another's woe, / And not be in sorrow too?" This question sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a meditation on the nature of empathy and the power of poetry to heal and console.
The second quatrain of the poem introduces the idea that poetry can be a source of comfort and solace for those who are suffering. The speaker asks, "Can I see another's grief, / And not seek for kind relief?" Here, the speaker is suggesting that when we witness the pain and suffering of others, it is natural to want to help and offer support. Poetry, according to the speaker, can be a way of providing that support, by offering words of comfort and understanding.
The third quatrain of the poem takes this idea further, suggesting that poetry has the power to transform suffering into something beautiful and meaningful. The speaker asks, "Can I see a falling tear, / And not feel my sorrow's share?" Here, the speaker is acknowledging that when we witness the tears of others, we cannot help but feel their pain. However, the speaker goes on to suggest that poetry can take that pain and turn it into something transcendent: "Can a father see his child / Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?"
The final quatrain of the poem brings all of these ideas together, suggesting that the true power of poetry lies in its ability to connect us to one another and to the larger human experience. The speaker asks, "Can a mother sit and hear / An infant groan, an infant fear?" Here, the speaker is invoking the image of a mother comforting her child, suggesting that this is the ultimate expression of empathy and compassion. The final lines of the poem drive this point home: "No, no! never can it be! / Never, never can it be!"
So what is the significance of "Poetry On Another's Sorrow"? Why is this poem still relevant today, more than two hundred years after it was written? At its core, this poem is a meditation on the nature of human connection and the power of empathy and compassion to heal and transform. In a world that often feels divided and disconnected, "Poetry On Another's Sorrow" reminds us of our shared humanity and the importance of reaching out to one another in times of need.
Moreover, this poem speaks to the power of art to heal and console. As the speaker suggests, poetry has the ability to transform suffering into something beautiful and meaningful. In a world that can often feel overwhelming and chaotic, art can provide a sense of order and meaning, helping us to make sense of our experiences and find solace in the beauty of the world around us.
Finally, "Poetry On Another's Sorrow" is a testament to the enduring power of William Blake's poetry. Despite being written more than two hundred years ago, this poem still resonates with readers today, speaking to the timeless themes of empathy, compassion, and human connection that are as relevant now as they were in Blake's time.
In conclusion, "Poetry On Another's Sorrow" is a masterpiece of empathy and compassion that speaks to the enduring power of art to heal and console. Through its exploration of the nature of human connection and the transformative power of poetry, this poem reminds us of our shared humanity and the importance of reaching out to one another in times of need. As we navigate the challenges of the modern world, we would do well to remember the lessons of this timeless work, and to seek solace and comfort in the beauty of the art that surrounds us.
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