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It is from a poem written by William Blake:

"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite."

Warble's definition on Lexico: (of a person) sing in a trilling or quavering voice.

But I have no idea the meaning of the sentence. Could anyone help?



Update:

meet: [adjective] precisely adapted to a particular situation, need, or circumstance : very proper

OR [archaic] suitable or proper.

meter: systematically arranged and measured rhythm in verse:

  1. rhythm that continuously repeats a single basic pattern
  2. rhythm characterized by regular recurrence of a systematic arrangement of basic patterns in larger figures
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  • Have you also looked up the less common meanings of "metre" and "meet", in particular those that are meet to the context of quoting poetry?
    – gotube
    Aug 15, 2022 at 14:33
  • I found out the less common meanings of "metre" and "meet". It helps!
    – H.Li
    Aug 15, 2022 at 14:42

1 Answer 1

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You need to keep in mind the biblical idea that God created man from dust. So "a clod of clay" is one person. And "a pebble" is another person. So these are two people making claims about love. Also, a pebble "of the brook" is in sharp contrast to the clay. The pebble will be washed by the brook and so clean, maybe even sparkly.

The metre of a song is the rhythm or beat. For example, the number of beats to a bar.

Something is "meet" if it meets the purpose. That is, it does what it was intended.

So "the pebble sang a song that clearly expressed an idea". In this case, the idea opposite to what the clod of clay said.

Salute to you trying to learn English from poetry by William Blake. You set yourself a high bar. It is poetry, and it is from far enough in the past that English usage has changed somewhat.

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  • Thanks for your help! By the way, is there a way to rephrase "warble out ..."? Could I say "warble out where these meters meet" or "warble out of the meters"?
    – H.Li
    Aug 15, 2022 at 14:47
  • No. In this case "meet" is not referring to two things coming together. It is indicating fitness for purpose. The words are meet for the purpose. That's part of the usage I mentioned. People rarely use meet that way these days. You could say "warbleld" (or sang) "these fine words."
    – BillOnne
    Aug 15, 2022 at 14:55
  • So "meet" here is an adjective that means: "precisely adapted to a particular situation, need, or circumstance : very proper". Right?
    – H.Li
    Aug 15, 2022 at 14:58
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    @H.Li: Despite BillOnne's encouraging words above, I certainly wouldn't encourage you to think of Blake's work as a useful resource for learning English! Quite apart from the fact that poetry in general isn't usually suitable for this purpose, Blake was writing a long time ago. Most "ordinary" Anglophones today would have trouble fully understanding his output! Even I struggle with some of it, and I was so fascinated by Blake's work when I was a teenager that I bought "the complete works" at a cost of more than I earned in a week! Aug 15, 2022 at 15:05
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    @H.Li: I absolutely agree that "just liking it" is an excellent reason for reading poetry (and other "stylised" literary content). But it's a bit beyond the scope of ELL here. Aug 15, 2022 at 15:12

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