'Several Questions Answered' by William Blake
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What is it men in women do require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
What is it women do in men require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
The look of love alarms
Because 'tis fill'd with fire;
But the look of soft deceit
Shall Win the lover's hire.
Soft Deceit & Idleness,
These are Beauty's sweetest dress.
He who binds to himself a joy
Dot the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise.
Submitted by Josh Horn
Editor 1 Interpretation
Several Questions Answered: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Are you looking for a poem that will take you on a journey through the mysteries of life? Look no further than William Blake's "Several Questions Answered." In this classic poem, Blake tackles some of the most fundamental questions that humans have been asking for centuries, and he does so in a way that is both thought-provoking and beautiful.
Before we dive into the meat of the poem, let's take a moment to appreciate the setting that Blake has created. The poem begins with the speaker asking a series of questions to an unnamed entity. We don't know who this entity is, or even if it exists, but that's part of the beauty of the poem. It's up to the reader to imagine who or what the speaker is addressing.
The questions that the speaker asks are wide-ranging and philosophical. They cover everything from love and death to nature and the afterlife. Here are just a few examples:
- "What is it men in women do require?"
- "What is it that makes the eagle scream?"
- "What is it that builds a house and plants a garden, but the ant?"
- "What is it that robs us of our rest, youth, and life?"
Each of these questions is designed to make the reader pause and reflect. They're not easy questions to answer, and that's the point. Blake is challenging us to think deeply about the mysteries of life and the universe.
Of course, the title of the poem is "Several Questions Answered," so we can't just stop at the questions. Blake does provide answers, although they're not always straightforward. In fact, some of the answers are downright paradoxical.
For example, when the speaker asks, "What is it that makes the earthworms dread?" the answer is, "It is the thought of their future food." This answer is paradoxical because it suggests that the earthworms are both afraid and not afraid of their future food. It's a clever way of showing how complex and contradictory life can be.
Another example of a paradoxical answer comes when the speaker asks, "What is it that causes the birds to migrate?" The answer is, "It is the purple-wing'd butterfly." This answer is paradoxical because it suggests that the birds are not in control of their own migration. Instead, they're being led by a butterfly. It's a reminder that even the most powerful creatures in nature are subject to forces beyond their control.
So what are the themes of this poem? There are several, but one that stands out is the theme of interconnectedness. Blake is showing us that everything in the universe is connected, and that even the smallest actions can have a ripple effect.
For example, when the speaker asks, "What is it that makes the honey bee / Build thee cells with waxen form?" the answer is, "In what distant deeps or skies / Burnt the fire of thine eyes?" This answer suggests that the honey bee is building its hive in response to the beauty of the world around it. It's a reminder that even the simplest actions can be inspired by something much greater than ourselves.
Another theme of the poem is the theme of mortality. Blake is reminding us that we're all going to die someday, and that death is a part of the natural cycle of life. This theme is particularly evident in the stanza where the speaker asks, "What is it that hangs the clouds in the sky?" The answer is, "What is it but thy own mortality?" This answer suggests that the clouds are a reminder of our own mortality, and that we should cherish the time that we have on this earth.
One of the things that makes "Several Questions Answered" so beautiful is its style. Blake's use of language is simply stunning. He uses vivid imagery and metaphors to create a world that is both familiar and mysterious.
For example, when the speaker asks, "What is it that makes the heart beat with joy?" the answer is, "It is the breath of the greenwood." This answer suggests that joy can be found in the beauty of nature, and that the natural world is intimately connected to our own emotions.
Another example of Blake's beautiful language comes when the speaker asks, "What is it that makes the river flow?" The answer is, "It is the same life that shoots in joy / Through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass." This answer suggests that the river is a manifestation of the same life force that animates all living things.
In conclusion, "Several Questions Answered" is a masterpiece of poetry. It takes on some of the most fundamental questions of human existence and does so in a way that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. Blake's use of language is stunning, and his themes of interconnectedness and mortality resonate deeply with readers. If you're looking for a poem that will leave you pondering the mysteries of life, look no further than "Several Questions Answered."
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Several Questions Answered: An Analysis of William Blake’s Classic Poem
William Blake’s Several Questions Answered is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a thought-provoking piece that raises several questions about life, death, and the human condition. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in the poem to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.
The poem is a series of questions and answers that touch on several themes. The first theme is the nature of life and death. Blake asks, “What is it men in women do require?” and answers, “The lineaments of Gratified Desire.” This line suggests that humans seek pleasure and fulfillment in life, but it is fleeting and ultimately leads to death. The poem also touches on the theme of love and relationships. Blake asks, “What is it women do in men require?” and answers, “The lineaments of Gratified Desire.” This line suggests that men and women seek each other out for physical pleasure and emotional fulfillment.
Another theme in the poem is the nature of God and religion. Blake asks, “What is it we worship?” and answers, “Tis Love, ‘tis Love, ‘tis Love that makes the world go round.” This line suggests that love is the driving force behind the universe and that it is the ultimate form of worship. The poem also touches on the theme of human suffering. Blake asks, “What is it that sighs in an infant’s heart?” and answers, “But O! the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return!” This line suggests that the loss of innocence and the inevitability of death are sources of human suffering.
The poem is structured as a series of questions and answers. Each stanza begins with a question and ends with an answer. The questions are posed by an unknown speaker, and the answers are given by Blake. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs, or metrical feet. An iamb is a metrical foot consisting of one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable. The poem has a regular rhyme scheme, with the first and third lines of each stanza rhyming with each other, and the second and fourth lines rhyming with each other.
Blake uses several literary devices in the poem to convey his message. One of the most prominent devices is repetition. The phrase “The lineaments of Gratified Desire” is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the theme of pleasure-seeking. The repetition of the phrase “‘tis Love, ‘tis Love, ‘tis Love” emphasizes the theme of love as the driving force behind the universe.
Another literary device used in the poem is imagery. Blake uses vivid imagery to describe the human condition. For example, he describes the loss of innocence as “the heavy change” and the inevitability of death as “the never must return.” These images evoke a sense of sadness and despair, highlighting the theme of human suffering.
In conclusion, William Blake’s Several Questions Answered is a classic poem that explores several themes related to the human condition. The poem is structured as a series of questions and answers, with each stanza emphasizing a different theme. Blake uses repetition and imagery to convey his message, highlighting the fleeting nature of pleasure, the importance of love, and the inevitability of human suffering. The poem is a timeless piece of literature that continues to resonate with readers today.
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