In this installment, Elizabeth Volpe reads “The Human Abstract” by William Blake. A 2001 and 2004 Pushcart Prize nominee, Volpe lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including: Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Connecticut Review, River Styx, Cave Wall, and roger. She won The Briarcliff Review 2004 Poetry Contest, the 2006 Metro Detroit Writers Contest, and the 2008 Juniper Prize from Alligator Juniper. Her chapbook won the 2007 Robert Watson Poetry Award from Spring Garden Press/The Greensboro Review, and she was nominated for 2008 Best New Poets.
William Blake, “The Human Abstract”
Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor:
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we;
And mutual fear brings peace;
Till the selfish loves increase.
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.
He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears:
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.
Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the Catterpiller and Fly.
Feed on the Mystery.
And it bears the fruit of Deceit.
Ruddy and sweet to eat;
And the Raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.
The Gods of the earth and sea,
Sought thro’ Nature to find this Tree
But their search was all in vain;
There grows one in the Human Brain