A world in a grain of sand

Discussion in 'English Only' started by NickJunior, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. NickJunior Senior Member

    Amérique du Nord
    What does this poem mean?

    To see a world in a grain of sand
    And a heaven in a wild flower
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
    And eternity in an hour.

    Well I know that infinity is the same as eternity, so I think this poem is saying that there are so many things to do in the present. What do you think? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    "Infinity" is endlessness: we can talk about an infinity of stars, an infinity of questions, and infinity of complaints, etc. For example, space can be considered infinite or boundless, at least poetically.

    Eternity refers to time; it is "forever."

    I'm curious: what dictionary or dictionaries did you consult before asking this question?
  3. VSPrasad Member

    Visakhapatnam, India
    India - English
    It is from Auguries of Innocence written by William Blake.

    Blake is never the easiest of poets to understand at the best of times, because he is the first by far who can justifiably lay claim to the title of symbolist poet, and as such is open to personal interpretation.

    The concept of microcosm says that one can find vast truths in the smallest of things. The tiniest part of something does apparently indeed represent the entire construct. It is is an ancient Greek schema of seeing the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos, from the largest scale (macrocosm or universe-level) all the way down to the smallest scale.

    The microcosm concept was utilized by a number of great thinkers ranging from the 5th-century BC Greek philosopher Democritus to the 17th-century German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

    The aphorism "As above, so below; as below, so above" was also interpreted by philosophers to give the same meaning.
  4. NickJunior Senior Member

    Amérique du Nord

    Hi Bibliolept, I was using my batteries-operated (device) dictionary called Language Master by Franklin Electronic Publishers, Inc and Merriam-Webster, Inc. It says as follows: "infinity (n) = a totality of infinite time. Synonym: eternity"

    Hello VSPrasad,
    I'm glad that you have taken the time to response to my question. My interpretation of the poem is no where near your understanding. Thank you very much. Now I understand it: "The concept of microcosm says that one can find vast truths in the smallest of things."

  5. Illuminatus Senior Member

    Mumbai, India
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    Even in ancient Indian literature, the concept of seeing the entire universe in the smallest of things is a very recurrent theme.

    The interpretations are varied, as VSPrasad pointed out. At one end, you could bluntly say that it is only possible to visualize the whole universe if you work on the length scales of infinity and the time scales of eternity.

    A more subtle interpretation would be that if you can appreciate the existence of vast truths in the smallest of things, you would transcend the worldly barriers of space and time and would gain eternal knowledge and enlightenment.
  6. Anasakta New Member

    English - Canadian
    William Blake was a mystic, or in today's terms he was Self-realized, hence, although living in our shared world of seeming duality, he had constant awareness of the Oneness of all Creation.

    Taken as a whole, his words here beautifully describe how the living mystic sees (experiences) intensely the world of seeming duality.

  7. Jimmcgee New Member

    Actually he was right. Eternity and infinity are synonyms. Check it out.

  8. TheFaultInOurStars New Member

    English- Australia
    This was posted a Long time ago but my opinion on this is
    To try and see the the little things in life and respect the world from the less spectacular things than you.
    Instead of looking for a greater world/ Purpose look down to and within the things you already have and find your infinity/ happiness/ purpose/ heaven within in.
    This is how I interoperate this poem.
  9. lahori New Member

    someone help me by doing the paraphrase of these lines.

    To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.

    I prepare this for my exams.
    Thanks in advance

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