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  • Bonnie Sallans


Updated: Jan 22, 2022

I was drawn to Blake's Auguries of Innocence one morning by this image,

To see the World in a Grain of Sand

and Heaven in a Wildflower

hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

and Eternity in an Hour...

Blake's poem goes on for 128 more lines to describe images of innocence from the animal world using the language of human depredation and exploitation:

A Robin Red breast in a Cage

Puts all Heaven in a Rage

Freedom and innocence, trapped foment anger in heaven where all ought to be at peace.

The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile

Make Lame Philosophy to smile

He who Doubts from what he sees

Will neer Believe do what you Please

If the Sun & Moon should Doubt

Theyd immediately Go out

To be in a Passion you Good may Do

But no Good if a Passion is in you

Enter paradox, irony, and the poem only becomes more complex before ending on a note of mystery that does anything but resolve the conundrum by which evil and innocence co-exist in the same world, the same heart, the same life each of us live one day to the next:

God Appears & God is Light

To those poor Souls who dwell in Night

But does a Human Form Display

To those who Dwell in Realms of day

So many possibilities in this kind of poem. Blake was a complicated human. To me the image, the photograph which sent me to Blake, is also complicated. The photographer chose to presen the image inverted:

Here is the original, unedited shot:

Inverting the image changes the perspective and the messge. For one thing, water in nature drips down, not up. To bring forward the image of the forest caught in a dew drop the artist turns physics on its head. The photographer also shaped the experience, blurring out the background. The artist's goal would appear to be to engage the eye with the central image and the miracle of the relationship of a drop of water in the larger scheme of things. This message is conveyed by devices that deny us the natural context of the image find, presenting instead an artist's idea.

I found this image on a web site called "Deviant Art." I sent a message through the web sit attempting to contact the photographer, identified as FallOut99 to ask permission to use the image inthis post. I have heard nothing back. The latest interaction that I can see from this user is dated Aug 4, 2020, and the comment there is that it took over a year to get that response. On her profile page the artist indicates that she is happy to have her work shared so long as credit is provided, I am going ahead with the posting of this entry. FallOut99 is the only identification I have thus far. Please click on the link to see more of her work. This process illustrates yet another blurring, if not distortion of context. Internet anonymity both protects and distorts. In the absence of dialogue, I use the image as suits me, with due reference to all I can garner from the original context, including a name that tells us nothing of whose work we are viewing. It is another example that of finding much in little, and little in much in order to achieve at any kind of sharing at all. If I do not go ahead in the absence of direct communication with this individual, then both further dissemination of the image and my thoughts about it evaporate into the morning mist.

I have heard writing poetry describe as like putting a note put into a bottle and tossing it into the sea. This is me launching a message to the creator of this image, hoping she will respond just as I hope my observations here elicit a response from you, the reader. The image has given me much with which to conjure. I am grateful and would enjoy discussion with the artist.

For today I will end with a link to Blake's poem, Auguries of Innocence. It is a piece of writing that has resonated for me since I first read it as a teenager, its bell tones sounding again and again throughout my own experience. My writing about it here is now part of that experience and so culture is shared, renewed, and made relevant, one reader, one generation to the next. Consider this final thought: An augury is a prediction from an omen or a sign. In Blake's title, "innocence" is the sign. The poem is the prediction. Predictions portend something momentous, bad, or good. Where is Blake taking us in his poem? What does this image, a forest contained in a drop of water stepped entirely out of natural context, all ties to its creator obscured if not eliminated, augur for us all?


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