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August 24th. A grain of sand.

What is the Moral Dog doing? Asks the Owner.

I am Examining this Grain of Sand, I say.

The Moral Dog has been Examining It for Half an Hour, says the Owner. What is he Expecting it to do?

The Moral Dog is attempting to See a World in it, I say. I heard a Man on the Radio Insisting it was there.

Ah, says the Owner, the Moral Dog is quoting the Philosopher and Poet William Blake.

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
.

That is it, I say. That is what he said, I say. I was looking for the Moral Dogs, I say. They do not have much Space in there, I say.

William Blake was not Speaking Literally, says the Owner. He speaks not of what is in a Grain of Sand but of what we should See in It.

I have been Looking at it for Ages, I say, and I do not See a Lot in it.

You will not see it Literally, says the Owner. You need both Science and Philosophy to see a World in a Grain of Sand.

Even with Science and Philosophy you would not Fit a lot of Moral Dogs in there, I say. Even One would be Quite Squashed, I say. Even a Chihuahua, I say. Unless you are planning some kind of Dastardly Shrinking Experiment, I say. Please do not Practice on me, I say.

The World in a Grain of Sand is a Metaphor, says the Owner. Blake was referring to the Amazing Beauty and Significance of the Smallest Things in Nature. He was suggesting that the Boundless Majesty of Existence is around us in every little thing we see and Touch. He was suggesting that the Wonders of the World lie as much in its Dust as in its Stars, as much in its Flowers as in its Mountains, as much in a Drop of Water as in All the Oceans of the World, as much in a Grain of Sand as in the Earth itself.

That is All Very Well, I say, but it takes a Lot of Philosophy and Imagination to see a World in a Grain of Sand, I say, whilst Science seems to Suggest that the Claim is Somewhat Exaggerated, I say. Particularly Given that the Moral Dog found the Grain of Sand Between his Toes after a Swim in the Pond, I say.

That Grain of Sand has had a life Beyond our Conception, says the Owner. It was born of Random Atoms Drifting like Dust across a Boundless Universe in the Milliseconds after the Big Bang. It coalesced to become part of a Planet, it Heated and Cooled, rose into Mountains forced Up and Out by the Great Volcanic Forces of Heat and Pressure, then Wore Away at the Touch of Ice and was carried back to the Shore in a Drop of Rain. There it lay as Oceans rose and Fell, as Dinosaurs roamed and Meteorites Crashed, as Birds Flew and Mammals grew, as Life and Hope and Philosophy Flourished, as the words of Shakespeare and Blake and the music of Bach and Elgar and the Rough Island Band Created Something More than Ourselves to make a Mark on Eternity, and as Persons learned to Love One Another and their Moral Dogs.

How do you know that? I ask.

I know of its History because am a Scientist says the Owner. Science allows us to understand how Extraordinary the World is, and to realise how small we, too, are, when set against the Infinity of Existence.

It seems to me, I say, that Science makes us all seem Rather Unimportant, I say. In Context, I say. It seems to me that William Blake is suggesting that there is little more to a Moral Dog than to a Grain of Sand, I say.

That is why we also need Philosophers, says the Owner. Philosophers tell us that Neither is Small. He is not telling us that we are as Insignificant as a Grain of Sand, but as Significant. He is reminding us that we are surrounded by natural miracles waiting for us to see them, and to find the Purpose of the Universe in their Extraordinary Perfection.

So if a Grain of Sand is a Thing so Extraordinary even in the Context of the Whole Universe, I say, then the Presence of the Love and Friendships of Persons and Moral Dogs on this Strange and Unexpected Lump of Planetary Rock is something Spectacular at which we should Marvel, I say.

That is Exactly Right, says the Owner.

I look at the Grain of Sand. It appears to be Looking Back with Some Gravity.

Categories: dignity dog dog philosophy grain of sand William Blake

Hergest the Hound

I am a dog of many thoughts.

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