“Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau” (ASL)

General information: You may share this video on social media and websites. Watch in high definition. Captions not provided due to time constraints, but the English text is provided below.

Image description: A white young man is standing in front of a orangish/whitish wall. He is wearing a white T-shirt, grey-ish pants, and a brown belt. He is signing something showing a line of people walking.

Purpose: I first read this poem when I was eighteen years old, and it haunted me through all those years. I did this translation solely to express my current understanding of the poem, which will probably evolve as I gain more life experience.

Translation notes: I greatly simplified the poem to a conventional view. I signed “divine” using the traditional ASL sign for “God”, which is based on Christianity. However, the author was strongly spiritual and I have a feeling that he did not intend it to be a conventional God. In terms of religious beliefs, the author agreed somewhat with Voltaire and Rousseau, but disagreed with their Deism. In terms of science, the author accepted scientific discoveries but wanted to point out that the unseen is too vast for science. All of this information is based on my limited understanding after years of reading about William Blake.

Title: Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau

Author: William Blake

English text:

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau:
Mock on, mock on: ‘tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.

And every sand becomes a Gem,
Reflected in the beam divine;
Blown back they blind the mocking Eye,
But still in Israel’s paths they shine.

The Atoms of Democritus
And the Newton’s Particles of Light
Are sands upon the Red Sea shore,
Where Israel’s tents do shine so bright.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)