Lyric Analysis

Posted by Ragan Glover

William Blake’s poem “The CLOD and the PEBBLE” presents two interesting perspectives on love. The first perspective, which is given by a clod of clay, is represented by the song “Naïve” which is covered by Lily Allen. The second perspective, which is given by a pebble, is represented by the song “Had Enough” by Breaking Benjamin. In both cases, the songs convey the message of the poem in a way that is not only appropriate through their lyrics, but also in tone, rhythm, and gender voice.

In the lyrics of the song, the speaker is questioning how her lover could have taken advantage of their love. The speaker is very naïve and selfless just as the clod of clay is described. In the poem, the clod of clay says that “love seeketh not itself to please/nor for itself hath any care” and in the lyrics of “Naïve” the speaker says “and I know, she knows, that I’m not fond of asking,” which signifies that whatever it is that the speaker needs, the speaker does not like to ask for, presumably because of selflessness. Furthermore, the speaker does not seem to be placing blame on the lover because at the very beginning, the lyrics state “I’m not saying it’s your fault, although you could have done more.” Overall, it appears that the speaker still has hope and is “building a Heaven in hell’s despair” because at the end of the song the speaker begs repeatedly “just don’t let me down.”

For the song “Naïve,” the choice of a cover over the original was based solely on the tone of the clod of clay. Lily Allen’s voice is much smoother and calmer than that of The Kooks. Because of this, Lily Allen seems much more appropriate as the choice to represent the inexperienced clod of clay in the poem. Furthermore, the cover version by Lily Allen is upbeat in its rhythm, but the delivery of the song is much slower and seems to agree with how the poem should be read- calmly and slowly. Yet another reason that Lily Allen is a better choice than The Kooks is because she sings specifically about a girl from a girl’s perspective. In the original by The Kooks, it could be argued that gender plays an important role in the feelings discussed; however, from Lily Allen’s perspective, the song remains gender unbiased like that of the clod of clay and the pebble.

In the song “Had Enough” by Breaking Benjamin, the perspective of the experienced and somewhat bitter pebble is conveyed. In the lyrics of the song, the speaker notes that his lover “had to have it all” and was a “greedy little bastard,” both of which coincide with the two lines from the poem “Love seeketh only Self to please/To bind another in its delight.”  In the poem, the pebble claims that love “Joys in another’s loss of ease.” Likewise, the speaker in the song says angrily to the lover “you think you’ve won this fight,” which signifies that the relationship is all about winning and losing to the lover. Another important connection between the song and the poem comes from the last line of the poem “And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite,” which is what the speaker of the song means when he states “You will get what you deserve.”

The choice of the song “Had Enough” by Breaking Benjamin is not only relevant due to its lyrics, but also due to its tone, gender voice, and rhythm. The tone of the song is bitter from experience, much like that of the pebble. The choice of words in the song and poem convey regret of love, rather than fond remembrance. The song “Had Enough” remains gender neutral by not addressing the lover as male or female. The need to remain gender neutral is based primarily on the fact that the clod of clay and the pebble speak of a personified version of love, not one that is male or female.  Lastly, the rhythm of the song “Had enough” coincides with the rhythm of the pebbles statements. The rhythm of the song has a beat that further indicates something that would be said with resentment or regret. In reading the pebble’s statement on selfish love, it seems appropriate to read it at a similar pace.

The two chosen songs give a modern and direct application of William Blake’s poem “The CLOD and the PEBBLE.” The song “Naïve” covered by Lily Allen adequately represents the voice of the clod of clay, and it provides perhaps even more insight than the poem on selfless love. On the other hand, the song “Had Enough” represents the voice of the pebble and provides insight on selfish love and the experience of enduring it. Together, the songs are able to provide a lyrical replica of what Blake conveyed beautifully through poetry.