Sunday 4 May 2008

On writing something worthwhile

Watched a programme about William Blake on the Arts Channel; an English poet, so I am ignorant. Very struck by the modernity of his artwork. Later, read a few of his poems in an Anthology and enjoyed them.

One poem was read out in full on the programme: The Poison Tree, about the importance of speaking out when bothered by something a friend does, and the evil consequences of not doing so. Coincidentally, the sermon I wrote and read out at Temple just yesterday was on exactly that topic. It is called Tochecha in Hebrew, and is, say the Learned Rabbis (Maimonides, Rashi et al) an absolute necessity.

Prior to researching the sermon, I hadn't known that. The Biblical verse which gives rise to this commentary and recommendation is in this weeks' portion, Kedoshim. In an antiquated translation: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour and not bear sin because of him, which a modern Rabbi paraphrases as: You must not keep a feeling of revulsion at your fellow to yourself. Instead you should rebuke your fellow so that you not become guilty by association (Leviticus 19: 17).

It seems that Blake endures because he had something to teach and said it beautifully. Two of the (older) poets interviewed on TV referred to him as a teacher.

This afternoon, mentioned Blake to a friend my age who said, You realise that he was all the rage in the 60s, don't you.

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