‘But vain the Sword and vain the Bow
They never can work Wars overthrow
The Hermits Prayer and the Widows tear
Alone can free the World from fear
For a Tear is an Intellectual Thing
And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King
And the bitter groan of the Martyrs woe
Is an Arrow from the Almightys Bow’
Excerpt from The Grey Monk by William Blake
I really like the work of William Blake and I think the whole of this poem is particularly powerful, but in this piece I have only included the two verses that really struck me.
I am not here to intellectually analyse this poem, but I have chosen these stanzas because they so eloquently describe the pain instigated by tyrants and warmongers or just evil people in general who treat others badly. It also indicates that more fighting will not overcome war, pain and horror, but the way to bring peace is through (the Hermit’s) prayer and ‘feeling the pain’ of what horrendous suffering the tyrants of this world bring upon ordinary people.
There are so many reasons for us to shed tears. Sometimes the pain is inflicted upon us and sometimes we inflict it upon ourselves. As we get older we should learn, bit by bit, which battles to fight and which to leave alone. Which things to cry over and which to just ignore. It sounds simple but it isn’t.
This is why we look for different forms of guidance to help us through. We have all been in that place where we want something to happen, something to be sorted, or just to have some confirmation that, sometime soon, the pain will stop. That is why people turn to Tarot. Because Tarot can clarify a situation, because Tarot can indicate whether something is our own fault rather than somebody else’s. Tarot can even tell us how to deal with a situation.
For a tear is an intellectual thing’ – a tear is a physical embodiment of something we KNOW is causing us pain. ‘A sigh is the Sword of an Angel King’ – to hear someone sigh is the point of the Angel’s Sword pricking us to recognise they are sad. ‘And the bitter groan…….Is an Arrow from the Almighties Bow.’ – hearing someone’s pain should pierce our heart like an arrow and we should care enough to help them. We should care enough to help ourselves too when we know we are suffering. We need to find ways of identifying problems and ways to overcome them. It is interesting that Blake uses a Hermit rather than a religious person, praying for peace. A hermit will find an isolated place to think, meditate, and to focus intently on the task at hand, to find the way, the answers. We need to reflect and think in times of stress and, in this fast-paced world with little or no quiet, how are we going to find the time to search for answers?
There are times when we just don’t understand what’s happening to us or why, there are times when we need some tangible help, there are times when we shed too many tears and we want them to stop;
These are the times when people turn to Tarot and Tarot can give us all its worldly-wise advice and, more often than not, the answers.