Man was made for joy and woe

Two years ago I fell back in love with poetry which was nice because my English degree had drained away much of my admiration for the fine craft. I credit my mother and her unstoppable addiction to CBC radio. One night as she was falling asleep they read two William Blake poems on the radio, one being Auguries of Innocence which mentioned something about a robin.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage

My mother liked the poem and the fact that it mentioned my name so she printed a copy of it for me the next day and left it on the desk in my bedroom. It has since become my favourite poem and it rekindled my love for the art that (for me) had become dry and stale through years of tedious forced readings and analysis. Blake is a genius and I really enjoyed studying him during my 19th century British Literature course this year. His social commentary is spot on and his words make my heart sing. I love the lines:

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.

When I read those words I feel like everything in my world is right again and I can carry on with whatever my day entails. Today that meant mopping the dinning room, cleaning all of the chairs and tables, windexing windows and wiping shelves. Luckily, I was able to listen to CBC while doing so (like mother, like daughter) and I heard a very interesting interview with the conductor of the Canadian Opera Company who conducted the two operas I saw this year, Aida and The Magic Flute. It put a big smile on my face.

It's interesting to me that Blake has come up twice quite randomly, for me, in two days. Two nights ago I was discussing the sometimes dark subject matter of his poetry and artwork with our head chef. Then last night, Rysio and I decided to watch The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys and towards the end of the film the main character does a public reading of The Tiger, which is also a fairly popular Blake poem:

Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night.
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy perfect symmetry?

Sidenote: I took these photos of Sophia when we were much younger, during my budding photography love affair. She would patiently sit and pose for me and I think the first photo is a good example of joyful Sophia in Pukaskwa National Park. In the second photo her exasperation with my tireless photo shoots is showing - a bit of woe over my domineering older sibling personality. It's really exciting for me to look back on those days and remember how much fun I had... and I like to think she had a bit of fun too, playing the model.

 Today was definitely full of more joy than woe. I hope your day is too!


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