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A Dissection of the Auguries of Innocence

Updated on September 1, 2013
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Auguries of Innocence

The Auguries of Innocence by William Blake is a poem full of paradoxes. This poem brings up situations that seem almost unfathomable to the human mind. All of the situations may be possible, but they are almost impossible to be understood.

When we are taught concepts at an early age, we expect those concepts to never change. When we have a situation which introduces concepts that go against everything we have learned, we do not want to grasp them.

If given a bucket and told to fill it with water, we have a relative idea of how much water to put into that bucket. We also understand that a whole ocean cannot fit into that bucket. But what if someone said that we could?

The understanding of Black’s principles can be frustrating, but at the same time they allow us an inside look on what many develop into true understanding of life and nature. The style that is presented in the Auguries of Innocence is due to the development of paradoxes.

Auguries of Innocence
Auguries of Innocence | Source

The Paradox

William Blake’s poem Auguries of Innocence presents a unique way to view the world. Blake presents the idea that we can view a whole as a single unit. In order to “see a world in a grain of sand,” we must first view the little things in life (1).

This concept presents a paradox that can be hard to grasp. How can a grain of sand represent a world? Is it even possible? Sand is nothing more than a speck of silica in a vast desert. But if this concept is compared to the Earth versus the universe, this concept can be easier to grasp.

Our world has an abundance of life, space, and insight, yet the Earth is tiny compared to the universe in size. Something small can represent a whole, but a small object in human perspective can’t represent a world.

To view “a heaven in a wild flower” is also a concept that is hard to understand (2). Is heaven like a wild flower? Is heaven vast, wild, and bountiful? To some this may be what they believe. But it’s hard to grasp that something so vast can reside in a flower that is so little and common.

Blake seems to express that everything can be see through a different perspective. No matter how small or ordinary an object may be, it can represent something so divine, that to humans, it seems impossible.

Space and time are represented as paradoxes in William Blake’s poem Auguries of Innocence. To be able to “hold infinity in the palm of [our] hand” seems illogical (3).

The idea of being able to hold infinity in a confined space is not perceivable. Infinity cannot be held inside of anything, especially our hands. But this poem does show that great things can be grasped.

In history great events have been caused by the decisions of one man. The actions of Gavrilo Princip, the man who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, led to a chain of events that would eventually trigger World War I. Princip’s actions show how one man can hold the power to do many things in the palm of his hand, yet this event can be measured ,unlike infinity.

Time, on the other hand, is measurable. We have a firm grasp on how much time is in a curtain amount of unites. To have an “eternity in an hour” is not feasible (4). The ability to hold an immeasurable amount of time within an hour, which can be measured, is in the human mind impossible. Sherrilyn Kenyon expresses in her book Acheron a character named Ash who can see everything in the future and beyond.

This concept of having, seeing, or knowing everything from an infinite perspective is unreal. Blake expresses that we might have infinity of choices to grasp, or that the way we spent an hour can never be measured in all the different things that can be accomplished in it but the concept of never-ending is still seen as a road block.

Source

Auguries of Innocence is a work of paradoxes that William Blake has created that makes us think. Many of his concepts of how we see things around us and view space and time are inconceivable.

To view something grand in something as small as “a grain of sand” or to have a never ending amount of time in a measurable amount of time is mindboggling (1).

Blake shows that if looked at from a different angle we can see that maybe it takes time for human knowledge to develop and obtain a higher understanding of life and nature. Our perception of things should not be a set one.

We should always be open to new ideas. Without new ideas and concepts we as a race can never hope to expand.

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