dreamed late 1780s by William Blake
ONCE a dream did weave a shade
Troubled, 'wilder'd, and forlorn,
"O, my children! do they cry?
Pitying, I drop'd a tear;
"I am set to light the ground,
This poem is from Blake's Songs of Innocence (1789). Blake is often strange, but always direct; if he says it's a dream, I believe him.
So what's it mean? Well, Blake's not sentimental. He knows bugs eat bugs. These aren't bugs. His dream catches the core idea in Songs of Innocence: that innocents (unaware of evil) aren't as good as fully enlightened people (aware of evil but serenely building the good anyway)... but innocence is still good. Innocent mistakes can lead to grief, but innocents rarely prey on the hapless. Unlike our real bug-eat-bug world, these bugs do their jobs, help their community; it doesn't occur to them to prey on the lost one.
Am I claiming that Blake thinks most ordinary people are like his dream-bugs? Absolutely! He's one source of the modern anarchist ideas of mutual aid and cooperation as the norm; that communities self-assemble naturally, without force; that, at heart, people like to help.
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