We Leave with Nothing but Love

Desperation. Grasping for the real figures of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love.
October 25, 2009, 5:50 am
Filed under: Books, Economy, Poetry

Whether reading Billy Collins, Dana Gioia, or William Blake, there is no clear understanding of the human forms: Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love. This has been a semester of spirituality and poetry for me. Becoming a huge fan of Collins and Blake has left me pensive- but wordless. Much help that is, having to write a 14 page paper for this term in the Torrey program. Weeks of thought and research and hurried discussion has left me still with merely the topic, and hardly a thesis: “Pity and Taxation.”

Blake offers intriguing contrasts to his four virtues. He examines their worth from two perspectives: From Inncence first, then from Experience. Check this out:

(From Songs of Innocence):

“The Divine Image”

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

(My thoughts are brought to a peaceful place, examining the worth of the many emanations of goodness. I want this goodness. I want to be good and to know good people. Isn’t this place we reside a place of mutual affections, helpfulness, and virtue?)

(From Songs of Experience)

“A Divine Image”

Cruelty has a human heart

And Jealousy a Human face

Terror the Human form divine,

And Secrecy the human dress.

(So now, Mr. Blake, the ideals of Mercy, Pity, Love and Peace are replaced with the bitter masks of Cruelty, Jealousy, Terror and Secrecy!)

If Blake were to organize a system of economics for his government, he would get too discouraged by the disgusting faces of human Bitterness which come out at night. Pity is great, and yes, in taxation, people ought to receive tax deductions and fewer charges if they experience poverty. But even Pity is distorted when those who are taxing are only acting upon pity and mercy because of their inner corruption! They don’t have the rights of individuals in mind, only their self-serving prejudices.

Pity is a necessary goodness in a world of beauty. CS Lewis restores the views of pity. He takes Blake’s guttural distortions of goodness back to the divine understanding (yes, life’s pain remains, but every pain etches another image of God’s divine Providence!) in The Great Divorce. Again, I am left with so many great words of Lewis, I can’t decide which are the best to represent the beauty of reconciliation. This is the method Lewis provides when virtues are corrupted by humanity:

I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, ‘with backward mutters of dissevering power’- or else not. It is still ‘either-or’. If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.

Therefore, Lewis recognizes mankind’s gross imperfections also. However, by his words I conclude that there must be a way to show pity in an ‘evil undone’ way. I must discover what is the dissevering power of showing pity through the government’s ways of taxation.

Can heaven be restored in the motives of the IRS? What is the role of Pity in the government’s budget?


To Blake, Sorrow is a Time for the Shepherd to Sit and Weep with the Innocent.
October 6, 2009, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Books, College Classes., Family, Living, Poetry

Can I see another’s woe,

And not be in sorrow too?

Can I see another’s grief,

And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,

And not feel my sorrow’s share?

Can a father see his child

Weep, nor be with sorrow fill’d?

Can a mother sit and hear

An infant groan, and 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 they maker is not by.

Think not, thou cast weep a tear,

And thy maker is not near.

O! he gives to us his joy,

That our grief to us his joy,

That our grief he may destroy;

Till our grief is fled & gone

He doth sit by us and moan.

On Another’s Sorrow by William Blake