Although I can’t remember the title, I remember a book I was told to read once at junior school in which the heroine (a young girl) would see worlds and cities and even universes in the walls and the flowers that she saw in her daily life. It was a simple book and I don’t remember paying too much attention to it at the time. That’s nice for her, I thought. If you recognise the book please let me know what it’s called, i’d be interested to re-read it. Years later I would connect the story with the following verse by William Blake, it’s too good to edit so here it is in all it’s mystic and symbolic glory:
Auguries of Innocence
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.
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dovehouse fill’d with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clip’t & arm’d for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.
Every Wolf’s & Lion’s howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand’ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus’d breeds Public strife,
And yet forgives the Butcher’s Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won’t Believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever’s fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov’d by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by woman lov’d.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider’s enmity.
He who torments the Chafer’s sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Caterpiller on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother’s grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.
‘Auguries’ are signs or omens and in the poem Blake basically describes a natural world that is a gateway to a lost vision of innocence…here the word innocence refers to the unfallen state. As I mentioned in a previous post this would have been a state in which human beings perhaps had no fear of death and saw themselves less as material or physical beings but part of the greater infinite spirit consciousness. That’s one theory anyway. The poem was written in about 1803 and was apparently a collection of couplets that were later grouped together for printing. The theme, clearly, is one of universal interdependence – the idea that all things are connected, even if they exist on different planes.
Blake wasn’t called Mystic for nothing and like the Buddha and spirit guides from other cultures and civilisations thousands of years before him, he too was able to instinctively comprehend what scientists are now beginning to understand about the universe at the Quantum level; everything is connected. It’s also a principle concept in Buddhism known as dependent origination.
For me the imagery of the verse is haunting and almost cinematic in it’s intensity and clarity.
For a while now i’ve taken the odd photo of the street and the pavement with my phone. Normally I don’t see much; just the usual shit, litter and tarmac, vomit if I happen to be anywhere near Dalston. Here and there however I get a view of something else. It’s not exactly Blake but it puts a smile on my face as I stroll on down the road.