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THK POEM 

WITH SPECIMENS OF THE PROSE WRITINGS, 

WILLIAM Jj> L A K i.-v. 



JOSEPH SKIPSEY, 



C i? n t an : 



1885. 



SQUARE, 



1EPLACIWQ 





*- 



Canterbury poet&t 

NEW EDITION OF THE POETS, .\$ 

Edited by JOSEPH SKIPSEY, Author of "Lyric Poems." 
In Shilling Monthly Volumes. Each Volume will 
contain 288 pages, including an original Introduc- 
tory Notice, biographical and critical, by various 
Contributors. Volumes already issued COLE- 
RIDGE, SHELLEY, LONGFELLOW, BLAKE, followed 
by CAMPBELL, POE, WORDSWORTH, CHATTERTON, 
MARLOWE, MILTON, WHITTIER, KEBLE, BURNS 
(2 vols.\ HERBERT, KEATS, TANN T AHILL, BRYANT, 
COWPER, SCOTT, etc. 



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LONDON : WALTER SCOTT, 14 PATERNOSTER SQUARE. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Introductory Sketch ...... 9 

Advertisement ....... 37 

POETICAL SKETCHES C ' 

To Spring 39 

To Summer ....... 40 

To Autumn 41 

To Winter 42 

To the Evening Star 44 

To Morning ....... 45 

Fair Eleanor . . . . . . .46 

Song How sweet I roamed from field to field . 50 
Song My silks and line array . . . .51* 

Song Love and harmony combine ... 52 

Song I love the jocund dance .... 53 

t Song Memory, hither come .... 55 

' Mad Song The wild winds weep ... 56 

I Song Fresh from the dewy hill ... 57 
I Song When early morn walks forth in sober 

grey . , 59 

I To the Muses 60 

I Gwin, King of Norway 61 

I. 



CONTENTS. 






POETICAL SKETCHES Continued. 


PAGE 


An Imitation of Spenser .... 


. 67 


Blind-man's Buff . 


. 70 


A War Song . 


. 73 


Samson ....... 


. 75 


King Edward the JSwfr-TVAx ^ D. 


85 


Prologue ....... 


. 127 


Prologue to King John .... 


. 128 


SONGS OF INNOCENCE 




Introduction 


. ^ 130 


- The Shepherd 
The Echoing Green 


. 132 ' 
. 132 * 


rThe Lamb 


, % *134 * 


The Little Black Boy .... 


. 135 - 


The Blossom ...... 


. 137 


The Chimney Sweeper .... 


. 137 - 


The Little Boy Lost 


. 139 


The Little Boy Found .... 


. 140 


Laughing Song ..... 


. 140 * 


A Cradle Song ...... 


. 141 - 


The Divine Image ..... 


."^143 


Holy Thursday 


. 144 


Night 


. 146 


Spring 
Nurse's Song 


. 148 
. 150 ' 


Infant Joy 


. 151 


A Dream ....... 


. 151 


On Another's Sorrow .... 


. 153 


The Voice of the Ancient Bard . 


. 155 


SONGS OF EXPERIENCE- 






\ 156 ' 







CONTENTS. 

__ 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE Continued. PAGE 

Earth's Answer 157 * ! 

The Cloud and the Pebble . . ' . .159 

Holy Thursday ..... 160 

The Little Girl Lost 161 

The Little Girl Found 164 

The Chimney Sweeper 1M67 

/ The Sick Rose -VL67 

^ Nurse's Song 168 

The Fly 169 

The Angel . . . . . . >J70 

xThe Tiger N171 

My Pretty Rose Tree T72 

Ah, Sunflower SJ.7.3 

j, The Lily 174 

The Garden of Love 174 

The Little Vagabond 175 

London ....... . XJ.76 

The Human Abstract ^177 

Infant Sorrow 179 

Christian Forbearance . . . . .179 

A Little Boy Lost 180 

A Little Girl Lost 182 

A Divine Image 184 

The Schoolboy 184 

To Tirzah 186 

The Book of Thel 188 

LATER POEMS 

.--The Crystal Cabinet 201 

^ Smile and Frown 203 

-The Land of Dreams ..... 204 

-Mary 205 



CONTENTS. 



LATER POEMS Continued. PAGE 

/ Auguries of Innocence ..... 208 

/JIfee Mental Traveller 214 

4 William Bond 219 

t-?he Golden Net 222 - 

ftfte Grey Monk 223 

The Tiger Second Version .... ?2fi 

The Gates of Paradise 227 

The Birds 230 

Dedication of the Designs to Blair's "Grave " . 231 

^Broken Love 232 

Young Love . J 235 

The Two Songs 236 

Riches ........ 237 

Cupid 237 

i Love's Secret ....... 238 

Wild Flower's Song 239 

Opportunity ....... 240 

Seed Sowing 240 

Night and Day 241 

In a Myrtle Shade 242 

PROSE EXTRACTS 

Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims .... 243 

The Bard, from Gray 260 

The Ancient Britons 262 

Ruth, a Drawing ...... 270 

The True and False in Literature and Art . . 272 

Opinions 274 

Proverbs , 279 



Sfcetcb. 




HE remarkable poet-artist, whose 
poems we here submit to public 
attention, William Blake, was 
born on the 28th of November 
1757, at 28 Broad Street, 
Carnaby Market, Golden Square, London. His 
father was a hosier in poor circumstances, and 
this may help to account for the neglect of his 
early education ; for all his knowledge, according 
to Mr Gilchrist, from whose precious and admir- 
able book on Blake we draw the few biographic 
facts we are about to give, beyond that of read- 
ing and writing, was evidently self-acquired 



TO INT ROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

knowledge. From this lack of early discipline 
to some extent may be ascribed the premature 
development of his marvellous imaginative 
faculty his somewhat powerful self-assertive 
spirit and his early dalliance with the muses ; 
for he was scarcely out of the years of infancy 
before he began to write verse, and one of the 
very loveliest lyrics in the English tongue was 
produced by Blake before he was fourteen years 
old. It is merely entitled " A Song," and runs 
thus 

" How sweet I roamed from field to field 

And tasted all the summer's pride, 
Till I the Prince of Love beheld, 
Who in the sunny beams did glide ! 

" He showed me lilies for my hair. 

And blushing roses for my brow ; 
He led me through his garden fair, 
Where all his golden pleasures grow. 

" With sweet May-dews my wings are wet, 

And Phoebus fired my vocal rage ; 
He caught me in his silken net, 
And shut me in his golden cage. 



INTRODUCTOR Y SKETCH. 1 1 

" He loves to sit and hear me sing, 

Then, laughing, sports and plays with me ; 
Then stretches out my golden wing, 
And mocks my loss of liberty." 

Talk of inspiration ! if the boy who produced 
that was not inspired, then who in any age ever 
was ? For airiness, brightness, and suggestive- 
ness, we have only a very few such lyrics ; but 
it is remarkable that one of those few was also 
produced by another " marvellous boy " at about 
the same age that the hosier's son was when he 
produced this. The poem referred to is entitled 
" To Helen," and its writer was Edgar Allan Poe; 
and as it may be interesting to the reader to 
have this other jewel at hand for the sake of 
comparison, we here subjoin it 

SONG TO HELEN. 

" Helen, thy beauty is to me 

Like those Nicean barks of yore, 
That gently o'er a perfumed sea 

The weary, way-worn wanderer bore 
To his own native shore. 



1 2 INTRO D UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 



' On desperate seas long wont to roam, 
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face, 
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home 
To the glory that was Greece, 
And the grandeur that was Rome. 

' Lo, in yon brilliant window niche 
How statue-like I see thee stand, 
The agate lamp within thy hand ; 
Ah, Psyche from the regions which 
Are holy-land 1" 



At the age of ten our poet-artist attended a 
drawing school in the Strand, and at the age of 
fourteen he was sent as an apprentice to an 
engraver, a Mr. James Basire (evidently of 
foreign origin), in Great Queen Street, Lincoln's 
Inn Fields. It is pleasant to think that while 
yet a boy, in his position of apprentice to an 
engraver, he would be brought into contact 
with notable people, and that he once at least did, 
at his master's shop, see the sweet-souled author of 
the Vicar of Wakefield, " whose finely marked 
head " he gazed at, and " thought to himself 



IN TROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 1 3 

how much he should like to have such a head 
when he grew to be a man." 

Mr. Allingham supposes that also about the 
same time he may unwittingly often have met 
in the street, or have walked beside, " a placid, 
thin man of eighty-four, of erect figure and 
abstracted air," the greatest of modern vision- 
seers, "Emanuel Swedenborg, then upon a 
visit to England." I venture to say that had 
those two wonderful beings so met, though 
they might not have known each other by 
name, they would, none the less notwithstanding 
the fact that in after days, from some mysterious 
cause, the younger underrated the elder have 
mutually hailed in each other a kindred genius, 
and somehow the piercing glance of the Swedish 
seer would have gone down into the upturned 
eyes of the filled-with-wonderment boy poet- 
artist, and a sensation would have passed through 
their souls that would have been remembered 
till the day of their death. Men of genius have 



1 4 INTROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

an unerring instinct for the detection of 
genius in others, and Blake had also the 
ever-attendant qualities of the highest genius, 
and eyes less penetrating than those of the 
great seer would naturally be kindly drawn to 
young Blake, for the open-heartedness and 
utter guilelessness of the boy, I imagine, was 
such as to be felt by all who came into 
contact with him ; and it is gratifying to find 
upon record that his master, Mr. Basire him- 
self, was among those who felt and appreciated 
these noble qualities in his apprentice, as it 
is to find that the apprentice, all through 
his fairly long life, retained' and cherished an 
affection and admiration for his kind-hearted 
master. 

About two years after he had been bound, 
Mr. Basire, who must have had the utmost 
confidence in his drawing ability as well as in 
his truthfulness and honesty, sent him (to be 
out of harm's way the danger of suffering 



INTRO D UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 1 5 

from the company of other of his apprentices, 
of whom the good master had not so high an 
opinion) into Westminster Abbey and the 
various old churches in and near London, to 
make drawings from the monuments and build- 
ings for a work he was engaged to engrave. 
This would undoubtedly exert a powerful 
influence upon his tastes and habits, as Mr. 
Gilchrist intimates, and "have been singularly 
adapted to foster the romantic turn of his 
imagination, and to strengthen his affinities for 
the spiritual in art," and more especially, I 
would add, for the spiritual in poetry, of which 
he had already produced the delightful specimen 
before cited. 

On the expiration of his apprenticeship he 
went to study at the Royal Academy, then yet 
in its infancy, where he extended his acquaint- 
anceship among artists, and soon ranked among 
his friends and appreciators, Stothard, Flaxman, 
and afterwards Fuseli the two last named of 



1 6 IN TROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

whom set the highest value on his art genius ; 
while Flaxman, at the same time, declared his 
genius for poetry to be as great as that he 
possessed for art. Fuseli, who, at the time of 
Blake's introduction to him, was in the height 
of his popularity, continued his friend and 
champion to the end ; and Flaxman, with the 
exception of a brief period during which an 
unhappy misunderstanding existed between 
them, was also a life-long friend and defender 
and friends and defenders from the earliest 
stages of his poetic and artistic career our poet- 
artist unhappily needed. 

In his twenty-fifth year, on a Sunday, the 
18th day of August in 1782, Blake was married 
at Battersea to Catherine Boucher, who was 
ordained to be throughout the years of his man- 
hood and old age, into which the sun of fortune 
seldom or never threw a heart-cheering beam, a 
most precious helpmate. Catherine, like him- 
self, was poor, and of poor parents, and without 



INTRODUCTORY SKETCH. 17 

a school education a cross was affixed to her 
name in the marriage contract ; but she had a 
capacity for learning, and a desire to learn 
the two grand things and under the tutorage 
of her husband she soon learned to read and 
write. She -also learned to print his engravings 
and how to colour ; and having opened an 
engraver's shop, we are told that she became his 
saleswoman. Nay, into whatever scheme for 
the furtherance of his art or the betterment of 
his condition, or for the gratification, as it might 
to the non-initiated appear, of some mere 
fantastic whim, he entered into, she too entered, 
and clearly with her whole heart and soul. 
Never was a man of genius blessed with such a 
woman for a wife as this same little dark-eyed 
Catherine Boucher proved to William Blake. 
Nay, I ought to say that never was a common- 
minded man, dullard, or dunce, so blessed for 
it would seem to be written in the fate of men 
of genius that they should have the most 



1 8 INTRO D UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

unsuitable women for wives, as from the days 
of " Athena's wisest son," the immortal and 
ever beloved Socrates and his Xantippe, the 
private lives of the most gifted sons of fame in 
all nations would appear to testify. In our 
nation to mention a few Dickens and his 
wife, Bulwer Lytton and his wife, Sterne and 
his wife, Byron and his wife, as is well known, 
lived all discordant lives and even the divine 
Milton had his matrimonial troubles. Of course 
the women in most of these cases were not to 
blame more than their liege lords nay, in 
some cases not so much, and were evidently 
the greatest sufferers as in all likelihood was 
the wife of Byron. Then, what sort of a 
time must Jean Armour have had of it with 
poor Burns *? or in their early marriage years 
what must have been that of the beautiful Anne 
Hathaway with the young Shakespeare, since, 
as Mr. John Oldcastle observes, " the dark 
Jad_y with the sallow face and black eyes, which 



INTRODUCTOR Y SKETCH. 19 

ivere so beautiful to Shakespeare in spite of 
the taste of the time, she to whom half of his 
sonnets were written, whoever she may have 
been, was not Anne Hathaway." Catherine 
Boucher was assuredly not altogether without 
her matrimonial troubles, but these were of a 
kind totally unakin to those from which 
Burns's Bonnie Jean must have suffered, and 
wholly such as would momentarily arise out of 
the irritability of her husband's temper, and 
would pass off without leaving any deep stings 
in her heart, seeing, as she did, that such 
irritability was in a great measure the result of 
his neglect by the world -a world to which he 
must have felt himself to be a herald of a new 
era in art and song for such a herald he truly 
was. Collins and Gray and Chatterton had each, 
in various degrees it is true, already pointed the 
way to the realisation of that same era, so far as 
song went ; but in the lyrics, as well as the de- 
signs of Blake, was more pronounced that return, 



20 IN TROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

in the highest and noblest sense, to nature to 
nature as seen through the magic glass of the 
imagination and to which the world to some 
extent, through the later born Wordsworth and 
Coleridge and Shelley, afterwards should be 
aroused ; though he, like those who had gone 
before, was destined to warble his immortal 
songs for the time like a nightingale in the 
night, unheard or unheeded. The first song- 
proofs to his claim for this praise were put into 
print in the Poetical Sketches a short time after 
his marriage that is in 1783, when Burns was 
only in his twenty-fourth year, and altogether 
unknown to fame, when Coleridge was in his 
eleventh year, and Wordsworth was in his 
thirteenth, and Byron and Shelley and Keats 
were as yet unborn, and several of which proofs 
for nearly all the best of the said Sketches, 
it is surmised, were written between Blake's 
twelfth and twentieth years were produced 
fully a decade before that period. 



INTRODUCTORY SKETCH. 



I have said that he sang unheard and un- 
heeded, and from the first, save by a small knot 
of devoted friends, he always did, and in con- 
sequence the Poetical Sketches fell still-born 
from the press ; and this would mean, beside 
the excruciating pangs of disappointment only 
known to himself, and in a lesser degree to his 
own dear wife, a money loss to the poor poet 
which he was little able to sustain. Nor could 
Blake be said to ever have earned a penny, save 
through his ability and labours as a designer 
and engraver ; and though on the whole, in the 
opinion of competent judges, he was ever badly 
paid even for these, yet he managed to live 
was never in a state of misery was never 
reduced to pawn his manhood, or his honour, 
and to leave them, till out of credit, in pawn, as 
many who have made a mighty deal of more 
noise in the world than he have done; nor amid 
all his difficulties, except from the dearest of 
friends, would he submit to accept a favour, 



22 IN TROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

for he rightly valued his independence as of 
more value than rubies and gold. Of course, 
his condition at times would seem miserable 
enough to those to whom life would be a blank 
if they had not a fine house to live in, a fine 
carriage to ride in, and all that goes to form the 
beau ideal of life to the vulgar mind ; but this 
man had within him a treasury before which all 
such things appeared but gilded toys and 
empty nothings nay, and somewhat worse, for 
did he not sing 

" Since all the riches of this world 

May be gifts from the devil and earthly kings ; 
I should suspect that I worshipped the devil, 
If I thanked my God for worldly things. 

The countless gold of a merry heart, 
The rubies and pearls of a loving eye, 

The idle man can never bring from the mart, 
Nor the cunning hoard up in his treasury." 

Did he not sing thus? And what did he 
sing that did not spring from the depths of his 



IN TROD UCTOR Y SXE TCH. 2 3 



soul 1 In 1787 died Robert a brother of 
Blake, and five years his junior which was, 
without doubt, a severe loss to him, as, being 
similarly mentally constituted, the two brothers 
would have been of great service to each other. 
However this might have been, the love be- 
tween the brothers was most powerful, and the 
death was felt in a way that is seldom felt by 
one brother for the loss of another. Days and 
nights had the younger, in his illness, been 
attended and nursed by the elder ; and, when 
the last and most trying moment had arrived, 
wherein the spirit should be released from its 
clay bonds, the bereaved poet at least had the 
consolation so he believed of seeing it 
" ascend," says Mr. Gilchrist, " through the 
matter-of-fact ceiling " and " clapping its hands 
for joy ! " " No wonder he could paint such 
scenes ; " no wonder, dear reader and such 
scenes he did paint, and continued to paint to 
the end ; and with the aid, he would declare, of 



24 1NTRODUCTOR Y SKETCH. 



this very spirit-brother, the loss of whom, 
through his departure from the flesh, by-the-by, 
I am afraid I have just magnified, since the 
spirits of the brothers, after this catastrophe, 
would seem to have become more closely united 
than ever ; and that for the purpose of working 
out the art and the literary schemes which 
come to us as the products of William Blake 
only. 

The first fruit of this supposed co-operation 
of the two minds was the invention of a process 
by which the poet-artist should be both the 
printer as well as the illustrator of his own 
songs. Long before his brother's death a part 
of a second series of lyrics must have been 
written of even greater value, upon the whole, 
than the neglected, but none the less immortal 
Poetical Sketches, and the time had now come 
when these should appear before the world ; but 
the means the means where were the means 
to be had 1 for clearly the patronage of a certain 



INTRO D UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 2 5 



blue-stocking circle, which had aided him in his 
first effort to catch the eye and ear of the read- 
ing public, had in that one good deed been 
exhausted ; and how w r as the printing, not to 
say the publication, of this second book of songs 
to be effected 1 The question was a vexed one, 
and had strained his faculties to the uttermost, 
when lo, his departed and deeply deplored 
brother appeared to him in a vision, and showed 
him the how, by revealing " the wished for 
secret," and " directing him to the technical 
mode by which could be produced a fac-simile 
of song and design ; " and a book was the out- 
come, which was at once written by, illustrated 
by, and printed and engraved by William 
Blake. For an exposition of this process the 
reader must be referred to Mr. Gilchrist's Blake, 
as I am already too much indebted to that fine 
book to filch this piece of information from its 
valuable pages, and so shall only here add that 
such was the way in which the ever delightful 



26 IN TROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

Songs of Innocence, and in which, in sooth, all 
the Blake-after-work song and design were 
ushered into the world that world, in this par- 
ticular case, being comprised of the few curiosity- 
hunters who might happen to stray along 
Poland Street, " the long street which connects 
Broad Street with Oxford Street," and to which, 
I suppose, shortly after his brother's death, the 
poet had removed, for the critics were too much 
occupied with other and more pretentious issues 
to take much heed of the poet's modest thin 
brochure, or to have that passiveness essential 
to appreciate " the child-angel " pictures or " the 
child-angel " melodies contained therein. This 
was in 1 788-1 78$, and six years after appeared 
the Songs of Experience) in which again we have 
a treasury of the richest jewels, and such as few 
ever could, beside our poet, produce when he 
wrote at his best ; and in these three issues 
Poetical Sketches, Songs of Innocence, and 
Songs of Experience, and a few lyrics which 



INTRODUCTORY SKETCH. 27 

were produced at rare intervals in later years, 
and to which might be added that " strange, 
mystical allegory," the Book of Thel, we have 
comprised the harvest of our poet's true 
song ; for though he poured forth a multi- 
tude of writings his so-called prophecies 
many passages of which are written with 
absolute sincerity, as Allan Cunningham said 
of his poems, "with infinite tenderness," and 
"are in verity the words of a grea and wise 
mind," yet as there is in these, according to 
those most competent to judge, a lack of 
organic, not to say a lack of harmonic organic 
unity, and cannot in any just sense be termed 
poems, it were folly, and an injury and a draw- 
back to his fame, to persist in classing them 
with his poems proper. Many of his poems are 
mystical and enigmatical, but they are nearly 
all characterised by that exquisite metrical gift, 
and Tightness in point of form and colour, which 
Dante Rosetti said " constitute Blake's special 



28 IN TROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 



glory among his contemporaries," but which 
cannot be said of the Prophecies the Tliel 
perhaps excepted. His harvest, I repeat and 
a golden one it is with the exception of the 
precious ears specified, was reaped in the pro- 
duction of the last-named songs (1794), when 
our poet was in his thirty -seventh year, 
and his Prophecies; and, happily, with these 
his best series of designs, which included his 
"Canterbury Pilgrims," his "Blair's Grave," 
and his crowning glory as an artist, his 
"Designs for the Book of Job," were to be 
the outcome of the inspiration of his after 
years. 

It is remarkable that the more and more he 
seemed to become unable to catch the true 
inspiration of the poet, the more and more, and 
with a firmer grasp of the pencil, he seemed to 
be able to catch the true inspiration of the 
designer, and the question arises, whether the 
fame of Blake, or, indeed, that of any other 



INTRO D UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 29 

genius, however powerful and lofty, was ever 
aught the better through the cultivation of two 
arts whether that fame would not have been 
sounder, safer, and more universal, had such a 
genius sought and found a satisfactory expres- 
sion in one art only, as that of a Homer, a 
Dante, or a Shakespeare did as that of a 
Phidias, a Raphael, or a Handel did ; or 
whether through two or more arts, such as were 
cultivated and enriched by the genius of a 
Michael Angelo, a Leonardo De Vinci, or by 
that of a William Blake, or a Dante Gabriel 
Rosetti. Much, assuredly, could be said on 
both sides of this question, but perhaps to small 
purpose, save as an exercise of the mind ; for 
after all was said that could be said upon the 
subject, the career of a real genius would 
remain unaffected by the issue. And the reason 
is clear. Men of genius are men of genius 
simply because they are formed with the 
capacity for the reception into their internals 



30 I NT ROD UC TOR Y SKE TCH. 

of a divine power, and when they are caught 
up by that power by the Spirit of Inspiration 
as Ezekiel of old was caught up by the hair 
of the head, and hurried through the air, and 
placed among the Elders of the ages fled, in 
the Temple of Jerusalem, there is no saying in 
what trim or in what course they ought to go 
nay, they themselves may have no choice in the 
matter. One course only for the moment may 
be open, and one goal in view ; and in that 
course, and to that goal, must speed " the fiery 
chariot of genius," whatever follows; and if 
the course be up into heaven then good ; and 
if down into Jericho, or some other where for 
which nobody cares why, then, also good ; one 
vessel, to common observation, being made to 
honour and another to dishonour ; but the ways 
of the muse are not always scrutable, and if, 
under the said divine power, the said goal be 
in verity reached, then the poet, or the artist, or 
the poet-artist will know that he has done the 



IN TROD UC TOR Y SKE TCH. 3 1 



right thing, and that right thing through 
the right means and this while under the 
said power, inspiration, or soul-illumination, 
Michael Angelo, Dante Rosetti, and William 
Blake evidently did know. Of course this 
leaves the question yet open whether Blake 
did not often write, as in those sphinx-like 
prophetic books of his, when he was not under 
that divine power, and whether he did not 
often miss the mark, when, under some wild 
freak of fancy instead, he believed he had 
reached the desired goal. I for one have 
strong doubts thereon, and that notwithstanding 
the fact that the highly-gifted Mr. Swinburne 
appears to be able to penetrate and to bring to 
light the most precious jewels of meaning from 
passages in those books, which otherwise are, to 
my weaker sight, as dark as a coal-pit whose 
intense gloom is unillumined even by the dim 
light of the Davy lamp. Passages in even the 
most mystical, so far as my reading of them 



32 INTRO D UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 

goes, however, are noted for real poetical 
beauty, and Thel is full of tenderness, sweet- 
ness, and delicacy throughout. Indeed, this is a 
real and genuine poem, and I say this without 
presuming to be able to decipher in clear terms 
the author's drift, for I do not regard that 
particular ability altogether essential before 
such a verdict is given, so long as the product 
possesses to me a meaning an undefinable one 
though it may be or constitutes spells by 
which visions of beauty and delight may be 
conjured up in my imagination, and visions 
of which the poet himself may never have 
dreamed for it is in the nature of things that 
the seer may see further than he thinks ; that 
the singer may sing more than he knows ; that, 
in short, the poet's work may awaken and 
arouse the mind of the reader to the perception 
of a star-like galaxy of ideas, before whose 
dazzling splendour the light of his own par- 
ticular drift may seem in comparison but the 



INTRODUCTORY SKETCH. 33 

insignificant piece of yellow flame of a farthing 
candle. All of our very highest inspired work 
is noted for this character, and Blake's best 
is pre-eminently so ; while some of his most 
imperfect has a touch of it. And as his work 
was, so was the man. Lofty-minded, noble and 
sweet in disposition and general temper, he yet 
when crossed was subject to fits and outbursts 
of anger and spleen, which, however, were only 
for the moment, and the effects of which were 
felt by none so keenly as by himself which 
were always followed by a spirit of child-like 
forgetfulness or forgiveness, or in a spirit which 
caused his irritability to be forgotten or for- 
given, and which left the man the same object 
of affection to his friends at the last that he 
was to them at the first. Hence the secret of 
the fact that though, from several causes any- 
thing but discreditable to himself, the circle of 
his friends was small, these friends were, with 

perhaps a single exception, life-friends ; ai.d 
c 



34 J.VTROD UCTOR Y SKE TCH. 



when he had outlived nearly all these for he 
did he had the consolation to find himself 
begirt by a small knot of other younger ones 
more enthusiastic on the whole, and equally 
true nearly all talented young artists, and 
who were not only destined to cheer him in his 
latter days, and soften with their sympathy the 
pillow of his death-bed, but to prove instru- 
mental after his death in extending his fame 
and in defending his conduct and character, 
and who clearly held their friend and mentor 
to be wholly sane, whatever might from his 
words, deeds, or works be adduced by others as 
proofs to the contrary. 

He died upon a Sunday, being the 12th of 
August 1827, in his seventieth year of age, 
and without issue, leaving his beloved wife 
Catherine, who outlived him four years, a 
sufficient capital in his works to supply her 
small wants. Setting aside the testimony of 
brother artists and other famous personages, 



INTRODUCTOR Y SKETC H. 35 

it is proof sufficient that Blake had the purest 
and sweetest of dispositions to know that he 
\vas not only beloved by this excellent woman, 
but worshipped ; and as a small yet precious 
appendage to this grand testimony, I would 
add that a humble female who had sat with 
her by his death-bed, declared afterwards, "I 
have been at the death, not of a man, but of a 
blessed angel." That I conceive to be worth 
all the epitaphs to be found in all the church- 
yards and churches in Great Britain, with those 
in Westminster Abbey at their head, 



ADVERTISEMENT, 




j HE following Sketches were the produc- 
tion of untutored youth, commenced 
in his twelfth, and occasionally re- 
sumed by the author till his twentieth year; 
since which time, his talents having been wholly 
directed to the attainment of excellence in his 
profession, he has been deprived of the leisure 
requisite to such a revisal of these sheets as 
might have rendered them less unfit to meet the 
public eye. 

Conscious of the irregularities and defects to 
be found in almost every page, his friends have 
still believed that they possessed a poetical 
originality which merited some respite from 
oblivion. These their opinions remain, how- 
ever, to be now reproved or confirmed by a 
less partial public. 




poetical Sfcetcbee, 



TO SPRING. 

THOU with dewy locks, who lookest down 
Through the clear windows of the morning, 

turn 

Thine angel eyes upon our western isle, 
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring ! 

The hills tell each other, and the listening 
Valleys hear ; all our longing eyes are turned 
Up to thy bright pavilions : issue forth, 
And let thy holy feet visit our clime ! 

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds 
Kiss thy perfumed garments ; let us taste 
Thy morn and evening breath ; scatter thy pearls 
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee. 



40 nLAKE^S POEMS. 

( ;h, deck her forth with thy fair fingers ; pour 
Thy soft kisses on her bosom ; and put 
Thy golden crown upon her languished head, 
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee ! 



TO SUMMER. 

OTHOU who passest through our valleys in 
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay 

the heat 
That flames from their large nostrils ! Thou, O 

Summer, 

Oft pitchedst here thy golden tent, and oft 
Beneath our oaks has slept, while we beheld 
With Joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair. 

Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard 
Thy voice, when Noon upon his fervid car 
Rode o'er the deep of heaven. Beside our springs 
Sit down, and in our mossy valleys, on 
Some bank beside a river clear, throw thy 



TO AUTUMN. 41 



Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream ! 
Our valleys love the Summer in his pride. 

Our bards are famed who strike the silver wire : 
Our youth are bolder than the southern swains, 
Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance. 
We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy, 
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven, 
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat. 



TO AUTUMN. 

/""\ AUTUMN, laden with fruit, and stained 
^^ With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit 
Beneath my shady roof, there thou mayst rest, 
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe, 
And all the daughters of the year shall dance 1 
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers. 

" The narrow bud opens her beauties to 
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins ; 



42 BLAKE* S POEMS. 

Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and 
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve, 
Till clustering summer breaks forth into singing. 
And feathered clouds strew flowers round her head. 

" The Spirits of the Air live on the smells 

Of fruit ; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round 

The gardens, or sits singing in the trees." 

Thus sang the jolly Autumn as*he sat ; 

Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak 

Hills fled from our sight ; but left his golden load. 



TO WINTER. 

WINTER ! bar thine adamantine doors : 
The north is thine ; there hast thou built thy 

dark 

Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs, 
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car. 



TO WINTER. 43 



He hears me not, but o'er the yawning deep 
Rides heavy ; his storms are unchained, sheathed 
In ribbed steel ; I dare not lift mine eyes ; 
For he hath reared his sceptre o'er the world. 

Lo ! now the direful monster, whose skin clings 
To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning 

rocks : 

He withers all in silence, and in his hand 
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life. 

He takes his seat upon the cliffs the mariner 
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch, that deal'st 
With storms ! till heaven smiles, and the monster 
Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount 
Hecla. 




44 



BLAKE'S POEMS. 



TO THE EVENING STAR. 

nr^HOU fair-haired Angel of the Evening, 

Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, 

light 

Thy bright torch of love thy radiant crown 
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed ! 
Smile on our loves ; and, while thou drawest the 
Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew 
On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes 
In timely sleep. Let thy west wind sleep on 
The lake ; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes, 
And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon, 
Dost thou withdraw ; then the wolf rages wide, 
And the lion glares through the dun forest. 
The fleeces of our flocks are covered with 
Thy sacred dew : protect them with thine influence ! 



TO MORNING. 45 



TO MORNING. 

HOLY virgin, clad in purest white, 
Unlock heaven's golden gates, and issue 

forth ; 

Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven ; let light 
Rise from the chambers of the east, and bring 
The honeyed dew that cometh on waking day. 
O radiant Morning, salute the Sun, 
Roused like a huntsman to the chase, and with 
Thy buskined feet appear upon our hills. 




4 6 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



FAIR ELEANOR. 

E bell struck one, and shook the silent tower ; 

The graves gave up their dead : fair Eleanor 
Walked by the castle-gate, and looked in : 
A hollow groan ran through the dreary vaults 

She shrieked aloud, and sunk upon the steps, 
On the cold stone her pale cheek. Sickly smells 
Of death issue as from a sepulchre, 
And all is silent but the sighing vaults. 

Chill Death withdraws his hand, and she revives ; 
Amazed she finds herself upon her feet, 
And, like a ghost, through narrow passages 
Walking, feeling the cold walls with her hands. 

Fancy returns, and now she thinks of bones 
And grinning skulls, and corruptible death 
Wrapt in his shroud ; and now fancies she hears 
Deep sighs, and sees pale sickly ghosts gliding. 



FAIR ELEANOR. 47 



At length, no fancy but reality 
Distracts her. A rushing sound, and the feet 
Of one that fled, approaches. Ellen stood, 
Like a dumb statue, froze to stone with fear. 



The wretch approaches, crying : " The deed is 

done ! 

Take this, and send it by whom thou wilt send ; 
It is my life send it to Eleanor : 
He's dead, and howling after me for blood ! 



" Take this," he cried ; and thrust into her arms 
A wet napkin, wrapt about ; then rushed 
Past, howling. She received into her arms 
Pale death, and followed on the wings of fear. 



They passed swift through the outer gate ; 

wretch, 

Howling, leaped o'er the wall into the moat, 
Stifling in mud. Fair Ellen passed the bridge, 
And heard a gloomy voice cry, "Is it done ? " 



48 HLAKE*S POEMS. 

As the deer wounded, Ellen flew over 

The pathless plain ; as the arrows that fly 

By night, destruction flies, and strikes in darkness. 

She fled from fear, till at her house arrived. 

Her maids await her ; on her bed she falls, 
That bed of joy where erst her lord hath pressed. 
" Ah, woman's fear ! " she cried, " ah, cursed duke ! 
Ah, my dear lord ! ah, wretched Eleanor ! 

" My lord was like a flower upon the brows 
Of lusty May ! Ah, life as frail as flower ! 
O ghastly Death ! withdraw thy cruel hand ! 
Seek'st thou that flower to deck thy horrid temples i 

" My lord was like a star in highest heaven 
Drawn down to earth by spells and wickedness ; 
My lord was like the opening eyes of Day, 
When western winds creep softly o'er the flowers 

" But he is darkened ; like the summer's noon 
Clouded ; fall'n like the stately tree, cut down ; 
The breath of heaven dwelt among his leaves. 
O Eleanor, weak woman, filled with woe ! " 



FAIR ELEANOR. 49 

Thus having spoke, she raised up her head, 
And saw the bloody napkin by her side, 
Which in her arms she brought ; and now, tenfold 
More terrified, saw it unfold itself. 

Her eyes were fixed ; the bloody cloth unfolds, 
Disclosing to her sight the murdered head 
Of her dear lord, all ghastly pale, clotted 
With gory blood ; it groaned, and thus it spake : 

" O Eleanor, behold thy husband's head, 
Who, sleeping on the stones of yonder tower, 
Was reft of life by the accursed duke : 
A hired villain turned my sleep to death. 

" O Eleanor, beware the cursed duke ; 
Oh, give not him thy hand, now I am dead. 
He seeks thy love ; who, coward, in the night, 
Hired a villain to bereave my life." 

She sat with dead cold limbs, stiffened to stone , 
She took the gory head up in her arms ; 
She kissed the pale lips ; she had no tears to shed ; 
She hugged it to her breast, and groaned her last. 



50 B * LAKE'S POEMS. 



SONG. 

T T OW sweet I roamed from field to field, 
** *- And tasted all the summer's pride, 
Till I the Prince of Love beheld 
Who in the sunny beams did glide. 



He showed me lilies for my hair, 
And blushing roses for my brow : 

He led me through his gardens fair 
Where all his golden pleasures grow. 



With sweet May-dews my wings were wet, 
And Phoebus fired my vocal rage ; 

He caught me in his silken net, 
And shut me in his golden cage. 

He loves to sit and hear me sing, 

Then laughing, sports and plays with me ; 
Then stretches out my golden wing, 

And mocks my loss of liberty. 



SONG. 



SONG. 

TV/T Y silks and fine array, 

A A My smiles and languished air, 

By love are driven away ; 

And mournful lean Despair 
Brings me yew to deck my grave : 
Such end true lovers have. 



His face is fair as heaven 

When springing buds unfold ; 

Oh, why to him was't given, 
Whose heart is wintry cold ? 

His breast is love's all-worshipped tomb, 

Where all love's pilgrims come. 

Bring me an axe and spade, 

Bring me a winding-sheet ; 
When I my grave have made, 

Let winds and tempests beat : 
Then down I'll lie, as cold as clay. 
True love doth pass away ! 



52 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



SONG. 

T OVE and harmony combine, 
"^ And around our souls entwine, 
While thy branches mix with mine, 
And our roots together join. 

Joys upon our branches sit, 
Chirping loud and singing sweet ; 
Like gentle streams beneath our feet, 
Innocence and virtue meet. 



Thou the golden fruit dost bear, 
I am clad in flowers fair ; 
Thy sweet boughs perfume the air, 
And the turtle buildeth there. 



There she sits and feeds her young, 
Sweet I hear her mournful song ; 
And thy lovely leaves among 
There is Love ; I hear his tongue. 



SONG. 53 

There his charming nest doth lay, 
There he sleeps the night away ; 
There he sports along the day, 
And doth among our branches play. 



SONG. 

T LOVE the jocund dance, 
* The softly-breathing song, 
Where innocent eyes do glance, 

And where lisps the maiden's tongue. 

I love the laughing vale, 

I love the echoing hill, 
Where mirth does never fail, 

And the jolly swain laughs his fill. 

I love the pleasant cot, 

I love the innocent bower, 
Where white and brown is our lot, 

Or fruit in the mid-day hour. 



54 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

I love the oaken seat 
Beneath the oaken tree, 

Where all the old villagers meet, 
And laugh our sports to see. 

I love our neighbours all 
But, Kitty, I better love thee ; 

And love them I ever shall, 
But thou art all to me. 



SONG. 



SONG. 

TV/T EMORY, hither come, 

*^** And tune your merry notes ; 

And, while upon the wind 

Your music floats, 
I'll pore upon the stream 
Where sighing lovers dream, 
And fish for fancies as they pass 
Within the watery glass. 

I'll drink of the clear stream, 
And hear the linnet's song, 

And there I'll lie and dream 
The day along : 

And, when night comes, I'll go 

To places fit for woe, 

Walking along the darkened valley 

With silent Melancholy. 



56 BLAK&S POEMS. 



MAD SONG. 

E wild winds weep, 
^ And the night is a-cold ; 
Come hither, Sleep, 

And my griefs enfold ! . . , 
But lo ! the morning peeps 
Over the eastern steeps, 
And the rustling beds* of dawn 
The earth do scorn. 

Lo ! to the vault 

Of paved heaven, 
With sorrow fraught, 

My notes are driven : 
They strike the ear of Night, 

Make weep the eyes of Day ; 
They make mad the roaring winds, 

And with tempests play. 

Like a fiend in a cloud, 
With howling woe 

* Evidently "birds," as in Gilchrist's edition. 



SONG. 57 

After night I do crowd 

And with night will go ; 
I turn my back to the east 
From whence comforts have increased ; 
For light doth seize my brain 
With frantic pain. 



SONG. 

THRESH from the dewy hill the merry Year 

A Smiles on my head, and mounts his flaming 

car ; 
Round my young brows the laurel wreathes a 

shade, 
And rising glories beam around my head. 

My feet are winged, while o'er the dewy lawn 
I meet my maiden risen like the morn. 
Oh, bless those holy feet, like angels' feet ; 
Oh, bless those limbs, beaming with heavenly 
light ! 



5 8 BLAKE*S POEAfS. 

Like as an angel glittering in the sky 
In times of innocence and holy joy ; 
The joyful shepherd stops his grateful song 
To hear the music of an angel's tongue. 

So, when she speaks, the voice of Heaven I hear ; 
So, when we walk, nothing impure comes near ; 
Each field seems Eden, and each calm retreat ; 
Each village seems the haunt of holy feet. 

But that sweet village, where my black-eyed maid 
Closes her eyes in sleep beneath night's shade, 
Whene'er I enter, more than mortal fire 
Burns in my soul, and does my song inspire. 




SONG. 59 

SONG. 

A X 7 HEN early Morn walks forth in sober grey, 
Then to my black-eyed maid I haste away 
When Evening sits beneath her dusky bower, 
And gently sighs away the silent hour, 
The village bell alarms, away I go, 
And the vale darkens at my pensive woe. 

To that sweet village where my black-eyed maid 

Doth drop a tear beneath the silent shade 

I turn my eyes ; and pensive as I go, 

Curse my black stars, and bless my pleasing woe. 

Oft, when the Summer sleeps among the trees, 
Whispering faint murmurs to the scanty breeze, 
I walk the village round ; if at her side 
A youth doth walk in stolen joy and pride, 
I curse my stars in bitter grief and woe, 
That made my love so high, and me so low. 

Oh, should she e'er prove false, his limbs I'd tear 
And throw all pity on the burning air ! 
I'd curse bright fortune for my mixed lot, 
And then I'd die in peace, and be forgot. 



60 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



TO THE MUSES. 

TX 7HETHER on Ida's shady brow, 
* ' Or in the chambers of the East, 
The chambers of the Sun, that now 
From ancient melody have ceased ; 



Whether in heaven ye wander fair, 
Or the green corners of the earth, 

Or the blue regions of the air 
Where the melodious winds have birth 

Whether on crystal rocks ye rove, 
Beneath the bosom of the sea, 

Wandering in many a coral grove ; 
Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry ; 

How have you left the ancient love 
That bards of old enjoyed in you ! 

The languid strings do scarcely move, 
The sound is forced, the notes are few I 



GWIN, KING OF NORWAY. 61 



GWIN, KING OF NORWAY. 



i, kings, and listen to my song. 
V - / When Gwin, the son of Nore, 
Over the nations of the North 
His cruel sceptre bore ; 

The nobles of the land did feed 

Upon the hungry poor ; 
They tear the poor man's lamb, and drive 

The needy from their door. 

" The land is desolate ! our wives 

And children cry for bread ; 
Arise and pull the tyrant down ! 

Let Gwin be humbled ! " 

Gordred the giant roused himself 

From sleeping in his cave ; 
He shook the hills, and in the clouds 

The troubled banners wave. 



62 BLAKE*S POEMS. 

Beneath them rolled, like tempests black, 
The numerous sons of blood ; 

Like lions' whelps, roaring abroad, 
Seeking their nightly food. 

Down Bleron's hills they dreadful rush, 
Their cry ascends the clouds ; 

The trampling horse and clanging arms 
Like rushing mighty floods ! 

Their wives and children, weeping loud, 

Follow in wild array, 
Howling like ghosts, furious as wolves 

In the bleak wintry day. 

" Pull down the tyrant to the dust, 

Let Gwin be humbled," 
They cry, " and let ten thousand lives ! 

Pay for the tyrant's head ! " 

From tower to tower the watchmen cry : 

" O Gwin, the son of Nore, 
Arouse thyself! the nations, black 

Like clouds, came rolling o'er ! " 



GWIN, KING OF NORWA Y. 63 

Gwin reared his shield, his palace shakes, 
His chiefs come rushing round ; 

Each like an awful thunder-cloud 
With voice of solemn sound : 

Like reared stones around a grave 

They stand around the king ; 
Then suddenly each seized his spear, 

And clashing steel does ring. 

The husbandman does leave his plough 
To wade through fields of gore ; 

The merchant binds his brows in steel, 
And leaves the trading shore ; 

The shepherd leaves his mellow pipe, 
And sounds the trumpet shrill ; 

The workman throws his hammer down 
To heave the bloody bill. 

Like the tall ghost of Barraton 

Who sports in stormy sky, 
Gwin leads his host as black as night 

When pestilence does fly, 



64 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



With horses and with chariots 

And all his spearmen bold 
March to the sound of mournful song, 

Like clouds around him rolled. 

Gwin lifts his hand the nations halt ; 

" Prepare for war ! " he cries. 
Gordred appears ! his frowning brow 

Troubles our northern skies. 

The armies stand, like balances 

Held in the Almighty's hand 
" Gwin, thou hast filled thy measure up : 

Thou'rt swept from out the land." 

And now the raging armies rushed 

Like warring mighty seas ; 
The heavens are shook with roaring war, 

The dust ascends the skies ! 

Earth smokes with blood, and groans and shakes 

To drink her children's gore, 
A sea of blood ; nor can the eye 

See to the trembling shore. 



GWIN, KING OF NORWAY. 65 

And on the verge of this wild sea 

Famine and death do cry ; 
The cries of women and of babes 

Over the field do fly. 

The king is seen raging afar, 

With all his men of might ; 
Like blazing comets scattering death 

Through the red feverous night. 

Beneath his arm like sheep they die, 

And groan upon the plain ; 
The battle faints, and bloody men 

Fight upon hills of slain. 

Now death is sick, and riven men 

Labour and toil for life ; 
Steed rolls on steed, and shield on shield, 

Sunk in this sea of strife ! 

The god of War is drunk with blood, 

The earth doth faint and fail ; 
The stench of blood makes sick the heavens 

Ghosts glut the throat of hell ! 

E 



66 BLAK&S POEMS. 

Oh, what have kings to answer for 

Before that awful throne, 
When thousand deaths for vengeance cry, 

And ghosts accusing groan ! 

Like blazing comets in the sky 
That shake the stars of light, 

Which drop like fruit unto the earth 
Through the fierce burning night ; 

Like these did Gwin and Gordred meet, 

And the first blow decides ; 
Down from the brow unto the breast 

Gordred his head divides ! 

Gwin fell : the Sons of Norway fled, 

All that remained alive ; 
The rest did fill the vale of death 

For them the eagles strive. 

The river Dorman rolled their blood 

Into the northern sea ; 
Who mourned his sons, and overwhelmed 

The pleasant south country. 



AN IMITA TION OF SPENSER. 67 

AN IMITATION OF SPENSER. 

OLDEN Apollo, that through heaven wide 
Scatter'st the rays of light, and truth his 

beams, 

In lucent words my darkling voices dight, 
And wash my earthly mind in thy clear streams, 
That wisdom may descend in fairy dreams, 
All while the jocund Hours in thy train 

Scatter their fancies at thy poet's feet ; 
And, when thou yield'st to Night thy wide domain, 
Let rays of truth enlight his sleeping brain. 

For brutish Pan in vain might thee assay 
With tinkling sounds to dash thy nervous verse, 

Sound without sense ; yet in his rude affray 
(For Ignorance is folly's leasing nurse, 
And love of Folly needs none other's curse) 

Midas the praise hath gained of lengthened ears, 
For which himself might deem him ne'er the 
worse 

To sit in council with his modern peers, 

And judge of tinkling rhymes and elegances terse. 



68 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

And thou, Mercurius, that with winged bow 
Dost mount aloft into the yielding sky, 

And through heaven's halls thy airy flight dost 

throw, 

Entering with holy feet to where on high 
Jove weighs the counsel of futurity ; 

Then laden with eternal fate, dost go 

Down, like a fallen star, from Autumn sky, 
And o'er the surface of the silent deep dost fly : 

If thou arrivest at the sandy shore 

Where nought but envious hissing adders dwell, 
Thy golden rod thrown on the dusty floor, 

Can charm to harmony with potent spell ; 

Such is sweet Eloquence, that does dispel 
Envy and Hate that thirst for human gore ; 

And cause in sweet society to dwell 

Vile savage minds that lurk in lonely cell. 

O Mercury, assist my labouring sense 

That round the circle of the world would fly, 
As the winged eagle scorns the towery fence 
Of Alpine hills round his high aery, 



AN IMITA TION OF SPENSER. 69 

And searches through the corners of the sky, 
Sports in the clouds to hear the thunder's sound, 

And see the winged lightnings as they fly ; 
Then, bosomed in an amber cloud, around 

Plumes his wide wings, and seeks Sol's palace 
high. 

And thou, O warrior maid invincible, 

Armed with the terrors of Almighty Jove, 

Pallas, Minerva, maiden terrible, 

Lov'st thou to walk the peaceful solemn grove, 
In solemn gloom of branches interwove ? 

Or bear'st thy aegis o'er the burning field 

Where like the sea the waves of battle move ? 
Or have thy soft piteous eyes beheld 

The weary wanderer through the desert rove ? 
Or does the afflicted man thy heavenly bosom 
move? 






70 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



BLIND-MAN'S BUFF. 

"\ X 7HEN silver snow decks Susan's clothes, 
* * And jewels hang at th' shepherd's nose, 
The blushing bank is all my care, 
With hearth so red, and walls so fair. 
" Heap the sea-coal, come, heap it higher ; 
The oaken log lay on the fire." 
The well-washed stools, a circling row, 
With lad and lass, how fair the show 1 
The merry can of nut-brown ale, 
The laughing jest, the love-sick tale 
Till, tired of chat, the game begins. 
The lasses prick the lads with pins. 
Roger from Dolly twitched the stool ; 
She, falling, kissed the ground, poor fool ! 
She blushed so red, with sidelong glance 
At hobnail Dick, who grieved the chance. 
But now for Blind-man's Buff they call ; 
Of each incumbrance clear the hall. 

Jenny her silken kerchief folds, 

And blear-eyed Will the black lot holds. 



BLIND-MAWS BUFF. 71 

Now laughing stops, with " Silence, hush ! " 

And Peggy Pout gives Sam a push. 

The blind-man's arms, extended wide, 

Sam slips between : " Oh, woe betide 

Thee, clumsy Will ! "but tittering Kate 

Is penned up in the corner strait ! 

And now Will's eyes beheld the play ; 

He thought his face was t'other way. 

" Now, Kitty, now ! what chance hast thou ? 

Roger so near thee trips, I vow ! " 

She catches him then Roger ties 

His own head up but not his eyes ; 

For through the slender cloth he sees, 

And runs at Sam, who slips with ease 

His clumsy hold ; and, dodging round, 

Sukey is tumbled on the ground. 

" See what it is to play unfair ! 

Where cheating is, there's mischief there." 

But Roger still pursues the chase, 

" He sees ! he sees ! " cries softly Grace ; 

" O Roger, thou, unskilled in art, 

Must, surer bound, go through thy part ! " 



72 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

Now Kitty, pert, repeats the rhymes, 

And Roger turns him round three times, 

Then pauses ere he starts. But Dick 

Was mischief-bent upon a trick ; 

Down on his hands and knees he lay 

Directly in the Blind-man's way, [ran, 

Then cries out " Hem ! " Hodge heard, and 

With hood-winked chance sure of his man ; 

But down he came. Alas, how frail 

Our best of hopes, how soon they fail ! 

With crimson drops he stains the ground ; 

Confusion startles all around. 

Poor piteous Dick supports his head, 

And fain would cure the hurt he made. 

But Kitty hasted with a key, 

And down his back they straight convey 

The cold relief: the blood is stayed, 

And Hodge again holds up his head. 

Such are the fortunes of the game ; 
And those who play should stop the same 
By wholesome laws, such as All those 
Who on the blinded man impose 



A WAR SONG. 73 



Stand in his stead ; as, long agone, 
When men were first a nation grown, 
Lawless they lived, till wantonness 
And liberty began to increase, 
And one man lay in another's way ; 
Then laws .were made to keep fair play. 



A WAR SONG : 

TO ENGLISHMEN. 

T^REPARE, prepare the iron helm of war, 
* Bring forth the lots, cast in the spacious orb ; 
The Angel of Fate turns them with mighty hands, 
And casts them out upon the darkened earth ! 
Prepare, prepare ! 

Prepare your hearts for Death's cold hand ! prepare 
Your souls for flight, your bodies for the earth ! 
Prepare your arms for glorious victory ! 
Prepare your eyes t0 meet a holy God ! 
Prepare, prepare ! 



74 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



Whose fatal scroll is that ? Methinks 'tis mine ! 
Why sinks my heart, why faltereth my tongue ? 
Had I three lives, I'd die in such a cause, 
And rise, with ghosts, over the well-fought field. 
Prepare, prepare ! 

The arrows of Almighty God are drawn ! 
Angels of Death stand in the low'ring heavens ! 
Thousands of souls must seek the realms of light, 
And walk together on the clouds of heaven ! 
Prepare, prepare ! 

Soldiers, prepare ! Our cause is Heaven's cause ; 
Soldiers, prepare ! Be worthy of our cause : 
Prepare to meet our fathers in the sky : 
Prepare, O troops that are to fall to-day 1 
Prepare, prepare ! 

Alfred shall smile, and make his heart rejoice ; 
The Norman William and the learned Clerk, 
And Lion-Heart, and black-browed Edward with 
His loyal queen, shall rise, and welcome us 1 
Prepare, prepare ! 




SAMSON. 

OAMSON, the strongest of the children of men, 
^ I sing ; how he was foiled by woman's arts, 
By a false wife brought to the gates of death. 
O Truth, that shinest with propitious beams, 
Turning our earthly night to heavenly day, 
From presence of the Almighty Father thou 
Visitest our darkling world with blessed feet, 
Bringing good news of Sin and Death destroyed ! 
O white-robed Angel, guide my timorous hand 
To write as on a lofty rock with iron pen 
The words of truth, that all who pass may read. 

Now Night, noon-tide of damned spirits, 
Over the silent earth spreads her pavilion, 
While in dark council sat Philistia's lords ; 
And, where strength failed, black thoughts ir 
ambush lay. 



76 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

There helmed youth and aged warriors 

In dust together lie, and Desolation 

Spreads his wings over the land of Palestine : 

From side to side the land groans, her prowess lost, 

And seeks to hide her bruised head 

Under the mists of night, breeding dark plots. 

For Dalila's fair arts have long been tried in vain ; 

In vain she wept in many a treacherous tear. 

Go on, fair traitress ; do thy guileful work ! 

Ere once again the changing moon 

Her circuit hath performed, thou shalt overcome, 

And conquer him by force unconquerable, 

And wrest his secret from him. 

Call thine alluring arts and honest-seeming brow, 

The holy kiss of love and the transparent tear ; 

Put on fair linen that with the lily vies, 

Purple and silver ; neglect thy hair, to seem 

More lovely in thy loose attire ; put on 

Thy country's pride, deceit, and eyes of love 

Decked in mild sorrow ; and sell thy lord for gold. 

For now, upon her sumptuous couch reclined 
In gorgeous pride, she still entreats, and still 



SAMSON. 77 



She grasps his vigorous knees with her fair arms. 
" Thou lov'st me not ! thou'rt war, thou art not 

love ! 

O foolish Dalila ! O weak woman ! 
It is Death clothed in flesh thou lovest, 
And thou hast been encircled in his arms ! 
Alas, my lord, what am I calling thee ? 
Thou art my God ! To thee I pour my tears 
For sacrifice morning and evening : 
My days are covered with sorrow ; shut up, 

darkened : 

By night I am deceived ! 

Who says that thou wast born of mortal kind ? 
Destruction was thy father, a lioness 
Suckled thee, thy young hands tore human limbs, 
And gorged human flesh ! 
Come hither, Death ; art thou not Samson's 

servant ? 

'Tis Dalila that calls thy master's wife. 
No, stay, and let thy master do the deed : 
One blow of that strong arm would ease my 

pain ; 
Then I should lie at quiet and have rest. 



78 BLAK&S POEMS. 

Pity forsook thee at thy birth 1 O Dagon 

Furious, and all ye gods of Palestine, 

Withdraw your hand ! I am but a weak woman. 

Alas, I am wedded to your enemy ! 

I will go mad, and tear my crisped hair ; 

I'll run about, and pierce the ears o' the gods ! 

O Samson, hold me not ; thou lov'st me not ! 

Look not upon me with those deathful eyes ! 

Thou wouldst my death, and death approaches 

fast." 

Thus, in false tears, she bathed his feet, 
And thus she day by day oppressed his soul. 
He seemed a mountain, his brow among the clouds ; 
She seemed a silver stream, his feet embracing. 

Dark thoughts rolled to and fro in his mind, 
Like thunder-clouds troubling the sky ; 
His visage was troubled ; his soul was distressed. 
" Though I should tell her all my heart, what can 

I fear? 

Though I should tell this secret of my birth, 
The utmost may be warded off as well when told as 

now." 



SAMSON. 79 



She saw him moved, and thus resumes her wiles, 

" Samson, I am thine ; do with me what thou wilt ; 

My friends are enemies ; my life is death ; 

I am a traitor to my nation, and despised ; 

My joy is given into the hands of him 

Who hates me, using deceit to the wife of his 

bosom. 
Thrice hast thou mocked me and grieved my 

soul. 

Didst thou not tell me with green withes to bind 
Thy nervous arms, and, after that, 
When I had found thy falsehood, with new ropes 
To bind thee fast ? I knew thou didst but mock 

me. 

Alas, when in thy sleep I bound thee with them, 
To try thy truth, I cried, ' The Philistines 
Be upon thee, Samson ! ' Then did suspicion wake 

thee ; 

How didst thou rend the feeble ties ! 
Thou fearest nought, what shouldst thou fear ? 
Thy power is more than mortal, none can hurt 

thee ; 
Thy bones are brass, thy sinews are iron ; 



8o BLAKFSS POEMS. 

Ten thousand spears are like the summer grass ; 
An army of mighty men are as flocks in the 

valleys : 
What canst thou fear ? I drink my tears like 

water : 
I live upon sorrow ! O worse than wolves and 

tigers, 
What canst thou give when such a trifle is denied 

me ? 

But oh ! at last thou mockest me, to shame 
My over-fond inquiry ! Thou told'st me 
To weave thee to the beam by thy strong hair ; 
I did even that to try thy truth ; but, when 
I cried, ' The Philistines be upon thee ! ' then 
Didst thou leave me to bewail that Samson loved 

me not." 

He sat, and inward grieved : 
He saw and loved the beauteous suppliant, 
Nor could conceal aught that might appease her. 
Then, leaning on her bosom, thus he spoke : 
" Hear, O Dalila ! doubt no more of Samson's 
love ; 



SAMSON. 8 1 



For that fair breast was made the ivory palace 
Of my inmost heart, where it shall lie at rest. 
For sorrow is the lot of all of woman born : 
For care was I brought forth, and labour is my lot : 
Nor matchless might, nor wisdom, nor every gift 

enjoyed, 

Can from the heart of man hide sorrow. 
Twice was my birth foretold from heaven, and 

twice 

A sacred vow enjoined me that I should drink 
No wine, nor eat of any unclean thing, 
For holy unto Israel's God I am, 
A Nazarite even from my mother's womb. 
Twice was it told, that it might not be broken. 
* Grant me a son, kind Heaven,' Manoa cried ; 
But Heaven refused. 
Childless he mourned, but thought his God knew 

best. 

In solitude, though not obscure, in Israel 
He lived, till venerable age came on : 
His flocks increased, and plenty crowned his 

board : 
Beloved, revered of man. But God hath other joys 

F 



52 BLAK&S POEMS. 



In store. Is burdened Israel his grief? 

The son of his old age shall set it free ! 

The venerable sweetener of his life 

Receives the promise first from heaven. She saw 

The maidens play, and blessed their innocent mirth ; 

She blessed each new-joined pair ; but from her 

The long-wished deliverer shall spring. 

Pensive, alone she sat within the house, 

When busy day was fading, and calm evening, 

Time for contemplation, rose 

From the forsaken east, and drew the curtains of 

heaven. 

Pensive she sat, and thought on Israel's grief, 
And silent prayed to Israel's God ; when lo ! 
An angel from the fields of light entered the house. 
His form was manhood in the prime, 
And from his spacious brow shot terrors through 

the evening shade. 
But mild he hailed her ' Hail, highly favoured ! ' 

said he ; 

' For lo ! thou shalt conceive, and bear a son, 
And Israel's strength shall be upon his shoulders, 
And he shall be called Israel's Deliverer. 



SAMSON. 83 



Now, therefore, drink no wine, and eat not any 

unclean thing, 

For he shall be a Nazarite to God.' 
Then, as a neighbour, when his evening tale is told, 
Departs, his blessing leaving, so seemed he to depart : 
She wondered with exceeding joy, nor knew he 

was an angel. 

Manoa left his fields to sit in the house, 
And take his evening's rest from labour 
The sweetest time that God has allotted mortal 

man. 

He sat, and heard with joy, 
And praised God, who Israel still doth keep. 
The time rolled on, and Israel groaned oppressed. 
The sword was bright, while the ploughshare rusted, 
Till hope grew feeble, and was ready to give place 

to doubting. 
Then prayed Manoa : 

* O Lord, thy flock is scattered on the hills 
The wolf teareth them ; 
Oppression stretches his rod over our land ; 
Our country is ploughed with swords, and reaped 

in blood ; 



84 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

The echoes of slaughter reach from hill to hill ; 

Instead of peaceful pipe the shepherd bears 

A sword ; the ox-goad is turned into a spear ! 

Oh, when shall our Deliverer come ? 

The Philistine riots on our flocks, 

Our vintage is gathered by bands of enemies ! 

Stretch forth thy hand and save.' Thus prayed 

Manoa. 

The aged woman walked into the field, 
And lo ! again the angel came, 
Clad as a traveller fresh risen on his journey. 
She ran and called her husband, who came and 

talked with him. 

' O man of God,' said he, 'thou com'st from far ! 
Let us detain thee while I make ready a kid, 
That thou mayst sit and eat, and tell us of thy 

name and warfare ; 
That, when thy sayings come to pass, we may 

honour thee.' 

The angel answered, * My name is Wonderful ; 
Inquire not after it, seeing it is a secret ; 
But if thou wilt, offer an offering unto the Lord.' " 




KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 

PERSONS. 

KING EDWARD. SIR THOMAS DAGWORTH. 

THE BLACK PRINCE. SIR WALTER MANNY. 

QUEEN PHILIPPA. LORD AUDLEY. 

DUKE OF CLARENCE. LORD PERCY. 

SIR JOHN CHANDOS. BISHOP. 

WILLIAM, Dagworth's man. 

PETER BLUNT, a common soldier. 

SCENE. The Coast of France. 

KING EDWARD and Nobles before it. The Army. 

KING 

THOU, to whose fury the nations are 

But as dust ! maintain thy servant's right. 
Without thine aid, the twisted mail, and spear, 
And forged helm, and shield of seven-times beaten 

brass 



86 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Are idle trophies of the vanquisher. 

When confusion rages, when the field is in a flame, 

When the cries of blood tear horror from heaven. 

And yelling Death runs up and down the ranks, 

Let Liberty, the chartered right of Englishmen, 

Won by our fathers in many a glorious field, 

Enerve my soldiers ; let Liberty 

Blaze in each countenance, and fire the battle. 

The enemy fight in chains, invisible chains, but 

heavy ; 
Their minds are fettered ; then how can they be 

free ? 

While, like the mounting flame, 
We spring to battle o'er the floods of death ! 
And these fair youths, the flower of England, 
Venturing their lives in my most righteous cause, 
Oh, sheathe their hearts with triple steel, that they 
May emulate their fathers' virtues ! 
And thou, my son, be strong ; thou fightest for a 

crown 

That death can never ravish from thy brow 
A crown of glory but from thy very dust 
Shall beam a radiance, to fire the breasts 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 87 

Of youth unborn ! Our names are written equal 
In Fame's wide-trophied hall ; 'tis ours to gild 
The letters, and to make them shine with gold 
That never tarnishes : whether Third Edward, 
Or the Prince of Wales, or Montacute, or Mortimer, 
Or ev'n the least by birth, shall gain the brightest 

fame, 

Is in His hand to whom all men are equal. 
The world of men are like the numerous stars 
That beam and twinkle in the depth of night, 
Each clad in glory according to his sphere ; 
But we, that wander from our native seats 
And beam forth lustre on a darkling world, 
Grow large as we advance : and some, perhaps, 
The most obscure at home, that scarce were seen 
To twinkle in their sphere, may so advance 
That the astonished world, with upturned eyes, 
Regardless of the moon, and those that once were 

bright, 
Stand only for to gaze upon their splendour. 

[He here knights the Prince and other 

young nobles. 
Now let us take a just revenge for those 



BLAKE^S POEMS. 



Brave Lords who fell beneath the bloody axe 
At Paris. Thanks, noble Harcourt, for 'twas 
By your advice we landed here in Brittany, 
A country not yet sown with destruction, 
And where the fiery whirlwind of swift war 
Has not yet swept its desolating wing. 
Into three parties we divide by day, 
And separate march, but join again at night : 
Each knows his rank, and heaven marshal all. 

\Exeunt. 



SCENE. English Court. 

LIONEL, DUKE OF CLARENCE, QUEEN PHILIPPA, 
Lords^ Bishops, etc. 

CLARENCE. 

My Lords, I have by the advice of her 
Whom I am doubly bound to obey, my parent 
And my sovereign, called you together. 
My task is great, my burden heavier than 
My unfledged years ; 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 89 

Yet with your kind assistance, Lords, I hope 
England shall dwell in peace : that, while my 

father 

Toils in his wars, and turns his eyes on this 
His native shore, and sees commerce fly round 
With his white wings, and sees his golden London 
And her silver Thames thronged with shining 

spires 

And corded ships, her merchants buzzing round 
Like summer bees, and all the golden cities 
In his land overflowing with honey, 
Glory may not be dimmed with clouds of care. 
Say, Lords, should not our thoughts be first to 

commerce 1 

My Lord Bishop, you would recommend us agri- 
culture ? 

BISHOP. 

Sweet Prince, the arts of peace are great, 
And no less glorious than those of war, 
Perhaps more glorious in the philosophic mind. 
When I sit at my home, a private man, 
My thoughts are on my gardens and my fields, 



90 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

How to employ the hand that lacketh bread. 
If Industry is in my diocese, 
Religion will flourish ; each man's heart 
Is cultivated, and will bring forth fruit : 
This is my private duty and my pleasure. 
But, as I sit in council with my prince, 
My thoughts take in the general good of the whole, 
And England is the land favoured by commerce ; 
For Commerce, though the child of Agriculture, 
Fosters his parent, who else must sweat and toil, 
And gain but scanty fare. Then my dear Lord, 
Be England's trade our care ; and we as trades- 
men 
Looking to the gain of this our native land. 

CLARENCE. 

O my good Lord, true wisdom drops like honey 
From your tongue, as from a worshipped oak ! 
Forgive, my Lords, my talkative youth, that speaks 
Not merely what my narrow observation has 
Picked up, but what I have concluded from your 
lessons. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 91 

Now, by the Queen's advice, I ask your leave 
To dine to-morrow with the Mayor of London : 
If I obtain your leave, I have another boon 
To ask, which is the favour of your company. 
I fear Lord Percy will not give me leave. 

PERCY. 

Dear Sir, a prince should always keep his state, 

And grant his favours with a sparing hand, 

Or they are never rightly valued. 

These are my thoughts : yet it were best to go : 

But keep a proper dignity, for now 

You represent the sacred person of 

Your father ; 'tis with princes as 'tis with the sun ; 

If not sometimes o'erclouded, we grow weary 

Of his officious glory. 

CLARENCE. 

Then you will give me leave to shine sometimes, 
My Lord? 

LORD (aside], 

Thou has a gallant spirit which I fear 
Will be imposed on by the closer sort 



92 BLAK&S POEMS. 

CLARENCE. 

Well, I'll endeavour to take 

Lord Percy's advice ; I have been used so much 

To dignity that I'm sick on't. 

QUEEN PHILIPPA. 

Fie, fie, Lord Clarence ! you proceed not to 

business, 

But speak of your own pleasures. 
I hope their lordships will excuse your giddiness. 

CLARENCE 

My Lords, the French have fitted out many 
Small ships of war that, like to raving wolves, 
Infest our English seas, devouring all 
Our burdened vessels, spoiling our naval flocks. 
The merchants do complain, and beg our aid. 

PERCY. 

The merchants are rich enough ; 
Can they not help themselves ? 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 93 

BISHOP. 

They can, and may ; but how to gain their will 
Requires our countenance and help. 

PERCY. 

When that they find they must, my Lord, they will 
Let them but suffer awhile, and you shall see 
They will bestir themselves. 

BISHOP. 

Lord Percy cannot mean that we should suffer 

This disgrace. If so, we are not sovereigns 

Of the sea our right, that heaven gave 

To England, when at the birth of Nature 

She was seated in the deep ; the Ocean ceased 

His mighty roar, and, fawning, played around 

Her snowy feet, and owned his awful Queen. 

Lord Percy, if the heart is sick, the head 

Must be aggrieved ; if but one member suffer, 

The heart doth fail. You say, my Lord, the 

merchants 
Can, if they will, defend themselves against 



94 BLAKE' >S POEMS. 

These rovers : this is a noble scheme, 
Worthy the brave Lord Percy, and as worthy 
His generous aid to put it into practice. 

PERCY. 

Lord Bishop, what was rash in me is wise 

In you ; I dare not own the plan. 'Tis not 

Mine. Yet will I, if you please, 

Quickly to the Lord Mayor, and work him onward 

To this most glorious voyage ; on which cast 

I'll set my whole estate, 

But we will bring these Gallic rovers under. 

QUEEN PHILIPPA. 

Thanks, brave Lord Percy ; you have the thanks 
Of England's Queen, and will, ere long, of England. 

\Exeunt. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 95 



SCENE. At Cressy. 

SIR THOMAS DAGWORTH and LORD AUDLEY 
meeting. 

AUDLEY. 

Good-morrow, brave Sir Thomas ; the bright morn 
Smiles on our army, and the gallant sun 
Springs from the hills like a young hero 
Into the battle, shaking his golden locks 
Exultingly : this is a promising day. 

DAGWORTH. 

Why, my Lord Audley, I don't know. 
Give me your hand, and now I'll tell you what 
I think you do not know. Edward's afraid of 
Philip. 

AUDLEY; 

Ha, ha ! Sir Thomas ! you but joke ; 
Did you e'er see him fear ? At Blanchetaque, 
When almost singly he drove six thousand 
French from the ford, did he fear then ? 



96 BLAK&S POEMS. 

DAGWORTH. 
Yes, fear that made him fight so. 

AUDLEY. 

By the same reason I might say 'tis fear 
That makes you fight. 

DAGWORTH. 

Mayhap you may. Look upon Edward's face, 
No one can say he fears ; but, when he turns 
His back, then 1 will say it to his face ; 
He is afraid : he makes us all afraid. 
I cannot bear the enemy at my back. 
Now here we are at Cressy ; where to-morrow. 
To-morrow we shall know. I say, Lord Audle^ 
That Edward runs away from Philip. 

AUDLEY. 
Perhaps you think the Prince, too, is afraid ? 

PAGWORTH. 

No : God forbid ! I'm sure he is not. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 97 

He is a young lion. Oh, I have seen him fight 
And give command, and lightning has flashed 
From his eyes across the field : I have seen him 
Shake hands with Death, and strike a bargain for 
The enemy ; he has danced in the field 
Of battle, like the youth at morris-play. 
I'm sure he's not afraid, nor Warwick, nor none. 
None of us but me, and I am very much afraid. 



AUDLEY. 

Are you afraid, too, Sir Thomas 1 

I believe that as much as I believe 

The King's afraid : but what are you afraid of? 

DAGWORTH. 

Of having my back laid open ; we turn 

Our backs to the fire, till we shall bum our skirts. 

AUDLEY. 

And this, Sir Thomas, you call fear ? Your fear 
Is of a different kind, then, from the King's ; 

n 



BLAKE'S POEMS. 



He fears to turn his face, and you to turn your 

back. 
I do not think, Sir Thomas, you know what fear is 

Enter SIR JOHN CHANDOS. 

CHANDOS. 

Good-morrow, Generals ; I give you joy : 
Welcome to the fields of Cressy. Here we stop, 
And wait for Philip. 

DAGWORTH. 
I hope so 

AUDLEY. 
There, Sir Thomas ; do you call that fear ? 

DAGWORTH. 

I don't know ; perhaps he takes it by fits. 
Why, noble Chandos, look you here 
One rotten sheep spoils the whole flock ; 
And if the bell-wether is tainted, I wish 
The Prince may not catch the distemper too. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 99 



CHANDOS. 

Distemper, Sir Thomas ! what distemper? 
I have not heard. 



DAGWORTH. 

Why, Chanclos, you are a wise man, 

I know you understand me ; a distemper 

The King caught here in France of running away, 

AUDLEY. 

Sir Thomas, you say you have caught it too. 

DAGWORTH. 

And so will the whole army ; 'tis very catching, 
For, when the coward runs, the brave man totters. 
Perhaps the air of the country is the cause. 
I feel it coming upon me, so I strive against it ; 
You yet are whole ; but, after a few more 
Retreats, we all shall know how to retreat 
Better than fight. To be plain, I think retreating 
Too often takes away a soldier's courage. 



ioo BLAK&S POEMS. 

CHANDOS. 

Here comes the King himself : tell him your 

thoughts 
Plainly, Sir Thomas. 

DAGWORTH. 

I've told him before, but his disorder 
Makes him deaf. 

Enter KING EDWARD and BLACK PRINCE. 

KING. 

Good-morrow, Generals ; when English courage 

fails, 

Down goes our right to France. 
But we are conquerers everywhere ; nothing 
Can stand our soldiers ; each man is worthy 
Of a triumph. Such an army of heroes 
Ne'er shouted to the heavens, nor shook the field. 
Edward, my son, thou art 
Most happy, having such command : the man 
Were base who were not fired to deeds 
Above heroic, having such examples. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 101 

PRINCE. 

Sire, with respect and deference I look 
Upon such noble souls, and wish myself 
Worthy the high command that Heaven and you 
Have given me. When I have seen the field glow, 
And in each countenance the soul of war 
Curbed by the manliest reason, I have been winged 
With certain victory ; and 'tis my boast, 
And shall be still my glory, I was inspired 
By these brave troops. 

DAGWORTH. 

Your Grace had better make them 
All Generals. 

KING. 

Sir Thomas Dagworth, you must have your joke, 
And shall, while you can fight as you did at 
The Ford. 

DAGWORTH. 
I have a small petition to your Majesty. 



io2 BLAK&S POEMS. 

KING. 

What can Sir Thomas Dagvvorth ask 
That Edward can refuse ? 

DAGWORTH. 

I hope your Majesty cannot refuse so great 

A trifle ; I've gilt your cause with my best blood, 

And would again, were I not forbid 

By him whom I am bound to obey : my hands 

Are tied up, my courage shrunk and withered, 

My sinews slackened, and my voice scarce heard ; 

Therefore I beg I may return to England. 

KING. 

I know not what you could have asked, Sir 

Thomas, 

That I would not have sooner parted with 
Than such a soldier as you have been, and such a 

friend : 

Nay, I will know the most remote particulars 
Of this your strange petition ; that, if I can 
I still may keep you here. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 103 

DAGWORTH. 

Here on the fields of Cressy we are settled 
Till Philip springs the timorous covey again. 
The wolf is hunted down by causeless fear ; 
The lion flees, and fear usurps his heart, 
Startled, astonished at the clamorous cock ; 
The eagle, that doth gaze upon the sun, 
Fears the small fire that plays about the fen. 
If at this moment of their idle fear 
The dog doth seize the wolf, the forester the lion, 
The negro in the crevice of the rock 
Doth seize the soaring eagle ; undone by flight, 
They tame submit : such the effect flight has 
On noble souls. Now hear its opposite : 
The timorous stag starts from the thicket wild, 
The fearful crane springs from the splashy fen, 
The shining snake glides o'er the bending grass, 
The stag turns head, and bays the crying hounds ; 
The crane o'ertaken fighteth with the hawk ; 
The snake doth turn, and bite the padding foot. 
And if your Majesty's afraid of Philip, 
You are more like a lion than a crane : 
Therefore I beg I may return to England. 



104 BLAK&S POEMS. 

KING. 

Sir Thomas, now I understand your mirth, 
Which often plays with wisdom for its pastime, 
And brings good counsel from the breast of 

laughter. 

I hope you'll stay and see us fight this battle, 
And reap rich harvest in the fields of Cressy ; 
Then go to England, tell them how we fight, 
And set all hearts on fire to be with us. 
Philip is plumed, and thinks we flee from him, 
Else he would never dare to attack us. Now, 
Now the quarry's set ! and death doth sport 
In the bright sunshine of this fatal day. 

DAGWORTH. 

Now my heart dances, and I am as light 

As the young bridegroom going to be married. 

Now must I to my soldiers, get them ready, 

Furbish our armours bright, new-plume our helms ; 

And we will sing like the young housewives busied 

In the dairy. My feet are wing'd, but not 

For flight, an please your grace. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 105 

KING. 

If all my soldiers are as pleased as you, 
'Twill be a gallant thing to fight or die ; 
Then I can never be afraid of Philip. 

DAGWORTH. 

A raw-boned fellow t'other day passed by me ; 

I told him to put off his hungry looks 

He answered me, " I hunger for another battle." 

I saw a little Welshman with a fiery face ; 

I told him he looked like a candle half 

Burned out ; he answered, he was "pig enough 

To light another pattle" Last night, beneath 

The moon I walked abroad, when all had pitched 

Their tents, and all were still ; 

I heard a blooming youth singing a song 

He had composed, and at each pause he wiped 

His dropping eyes. The ditty was, " If he 

Returned victorious, he should wed a maiden 

Fairer than snow, and rich as midsummer." 

Another wept, and wished health to his father. 

I chid them both, but gave them noble hopes. 



io6 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

These are the minds that glory in the battle, 
And leap and dance to hear the trumpet sound. 

KING. 

Sir Thomas Dagworth, be thou near our person ; 
Thy heart is richer than the vales of France : 
I will not part with such a man as thee. 
If Philip came armed in the ribs of death, 
And shook his mortal dart against my head, 
Thou'dst laugh his fury into nerveless shame ! 
Go now, for thou art suited to the work 
Throughout the camp : inflame the timorous, 
Blow up the sluggish into ardour, and 
Confirm the strong with strength, the weak inspire, 
And wing their brows with hope and expectation : 
Then to our tent return, and meet to council. 

\Exit DAGWORTH. 

CHANDOS. 

That man's a hero in his closet, and more 

A hero to the servants of his house 

Than to the gaping world ; he carries windows 

In that enlarged breast of his, that all 

May see what's done within. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 107 

PRINCE. 

He is a genuine Englishman, my Chandos, 
And hath the spirit of Liberty within him. 
Forgive my prejudice, Sir John ; I think 
My Englishmen the bravest people on 
The face of the earth. 

CHANDOS. 

Courage, my Lord, proceeds from self-dependence. 

Teach man to think he's a free agent, 

Give but a slave his liberty, he'll shake 

Off sloth, and build himself a hut, and hedge 

A spot of ground ; this he'll defend ; 'tis his 

By right of Nature. Thus set in action, 

He will still move onward to plan conveniences, 

Till glory fires his breast to enlarge his castle ; 

While the poor slave drudges all day, in hope 

To rest at night. 

KING. 

Liberty, how glorious art thou ! 

1 see thee hovering o'er my army, with 



io8 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

Thy wide-stretched plumes ; I see thee 

Lead them on to battle ; 

I see thee blow thy golden trumpet while 

Thy sons shout the strong shout of victory! 

O noble Chandos, think thyself a gardener, 

My son a vine, which I commit unto 

Thy care. Prune all extravagant shoots, and guide 

The ambitious tendrils in the path of wisdom ; 

Water him with thy advice, and heaven 

Rain freshening dew upon his branches ! And, 

O Edward, my dear son ! learn to think lowly of 

Thyself, as we may all each prefer other 

'Tis the best policy, and 'tis our duty. 

{Exit KING EDWARD. 

PRINCE. 

And may our duty, Chandos, be our pleasure. 
Now we are alone, Sir John, I will unburden 
And breathe my hopes into the burning air, 
Where thousand Deaths are posting up and down, 
Commissioned to this fatal field of Cressy. 
Methinks I see them arm my gallant soldiers, 
And gird the sword upon each thigh, and fit 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 109 

Each shining helm, and string each stubborn bow, 

And dance to the neighing of our steeds. 

Methinks the shout begins, the battle burns ; 

Methinks I see them perch on English crests, 

And roar the wild flame of fierce war upon 

The thronged enemy ! In truth, I am too full ; 

It is my sin to love the noise of war. 

Chandos, thou seest my weakness ; strong Nature 

Will bend or break us : my blood, like a springtide, 

Does rise so high to overflow all bounds 

Of moderation ; while Reason, in her frail bark, 

Can see no shore or bound for vast ambition. 

Come, take the helm, my Chandos, 

That my full-blown sails overset me not 

In the wild tempest. Condemn my venturous youth, 

That plays with danger, as the innocent child, 

Unthinking, plays upon the viper's den : 

I am a coward in my reason, Chandos. 

CHANDOS. 

You are a man, my prince, and a brave man, 
If I can judge of actions ; but your heat 
Is the effect of youth, and want of use : 



i io BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Use makes the armed field and noisy war 

Pass over as a summer cloud, unregarded, 

Or but expected as a thing of course. 

Age is contemplative ; each rolling year 

Brings forth fruit to the mind's treasure-house : 

While vacant youth doth crave and seek about 

Within itself, and findeth discontent, 

Then, tired of thought, impatient takes the wing, 

Seizes the fruits of time, attacks experience, 

Roams round vast Nature's forest, where no bounds 

Are set, the swiftest may have room, the strongest 

Find prey ; till, tired at length, sated and tired 

With the changing sameness, old variety, 

We sit us down, and view our former joys 

With distaste and dislike. 

PRINCE. 

Then, if we must tug for experience, 

Let us not fear to beat round Nature's wilds, 

And rouse the strongest prey : then, if we fall, 

We fall with glory. I know the wolf 

Is dangerous to fight, not good for food, 

Nor is the hide a comely vestment ; so 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. in 



We have our battle for our pains. I know 
That youth has need of age to point fit prey, 
And oft the stander-by shall steal the fruit 
Of the other's labour. This is philosophy ; 
These are the tricks of the world ; but the pure 

soul 

Shall mount on native wings, disdaining little sport, 
And cut a path into the heaven of glory, 
Leaving a track of light for men to wonder at. 
I'm glad my father does not hear me talk ; 
You can find friendly excuses for me, Chandos. 
But do you not think, Sir John, that, if it please 
The Almighty to stretch out my span of life, 
I shall with pleasure view a glorious action 
Which my youth mastered ? 

CHANDOS. 

Considerate age, my Lord, views motives, 

And not acts ; when neither warbling voice 

Nor trilling pipe is heard, nor pleasure sits 

With trembling age, the voice of Conscience then, 

Sweeter than music in a summer's eve, 

Shall warble round the snowy head, and keep, 



BLAKE^S POEMS. 



Sweet symphony to feathered angels, sitting 

As guardians round your chair ; then shall the 

pulse 
Beat slow, and taste and touch and sight and sound 

and smell, 
That sing and dance round Reason's fine- wrought 

throne, 

Shall flee away, and leave him all forlorn ; 
Yet not forlorn if Conscience is his friend. 

\Exeunl, 



SCENE. In SIR THOMAS DAGWORTH'S Tent. 
DAG WORTH and WILLIAM, his man. 

DAG WORTH. 

Bring hither my armour, William. 
Ambition is the growth of every clime. 

WILLIAM. 
Does it grow in England, sir? 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 113 

DAGWORTH. 

Ay, it grows most in lands most cultivated. 

WILLIAM. 

Then it grows most in France ; the vines here 
Are finer than any we have in England. 

DAGWORTH. 
Ay, but the oaks are not. 

WILLIAM. 

What is the tree you mentioned ? I don't think 
I ever saw it. 

DAGWORTH. 

Ambition. 

WILLIAM. 
Is it a little creeping root that grows in ditches ? 

DAGWORTH. 
Thou dost not understand me, \Villiam. 

H 



ii4 BLAK&S POEMS. 

It is a root that grows in every breast ; 
Ambition is the desire or passion that one man 
Has to get before another, in any pursuit after 

glory ; 
But I don't think you have any of it. 

WILLIAM. 

Yes, I have ; I have a great ambition to know 
everything, sir. 

DAGWORTH. 

But, when our first ideas are wrong, what follows 
must all be wrong, of course ; 'tis best to know a 
little, and to know that little aright. 

WILLIAM. 

Then, sir, I should be glad to know if it was not 
ambition that brought over our king to France to 
fight for his right. 

DAGWORTH. 

Though the knowledge of that will not profit thee 
much, yet I will tell you that it was ambition. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 115 

WILLIAM. 

Then, if ambition is a sin, we are all guilty in 
coming with him, and in fighting for him. 

DAGWORTH. 

Now, William, thou dost thrust the question 
home : but I must tell you that, guilt being an 
act of the mind, none are guilty but those whose 
minds are prompted by that same ambition. 

WILLIAM. 

Now, I always thought that a man might be 
guilty of doing wrong without knowing it was 
wrong. 

DAGWORTH. 

Thou art a natural philosopher, and knowst truth 
by instinct ; while reason runs aground, as we 
have run our argument. Only remember, William, 
all have it in their power to know the motives of 
their own actions, and 'tis a sin to act without 
some reason. 



n6 BLAK&S POEMS. 



WILLIAM. 

And whoever acts without reason may do a great 
deal of harm without knowing it. 

DAGWORTH. 

Thou art an endless moralist. 

WILLIAM. 

Now there's a story come into my head, that I 
will tell your honour, if you'll give me leave. 

DAGWORTH. 

No, William, save it till another time ; this is 
no time for story-telling. But here comes one who 
is as entertaining as a good story. 

Enter PETER BLUNT. 

PETER, 

Yonder's a musician going to play before the 
King ; it's a new song about the French and 
English. And the Prince has made the minstrel a 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 117 

squire, and given him I don't know what, and I 
can't tell whether he don't mention us all one by 
one ; and he is to write another about all us that 
are to die, that we may be remembered in Old 
England, for all our blood and bones are in France ; 
and a great deal more that we shall all hear by-and- 
by. And I came to tell your honour, because you 
love to hear war-songs. 

DAGWORTH. 
And who is this minstrel, Peter, dost know? 

PETER. 

Oh, ay, I forgot to tell that ; he has got the same 
name as Sir John Chandos that the Prince is 
always with the wise man that knows us all as 
well as your honour, only ain't so good-natured. 

DAGWORTH. 

I thank you, Peter, for your information, but not 
for your compliment, which is not true. There's 
as much difference between him and me as between 



n8 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

glittering sand and fruitful mould ; or shining glass 
and a wrought diamond, set in rich gold, and fitted 
to the finger of an Emperor ; such is that worthy 
Chandos. 

PETER. 

I know your honour does not think anything of 
yourself, but everybody else does. 

DAGWORTH. 

Go, Peter, get you gone ; flattery is delicious, 
even from the lips of a babbler. 

\Exit PETER. 

WILLIAM. 
/ never flatter your honour. 

DAGWORTH. 

I don't know that. 

WILLIAM. 

Why, you know, sir, when we were in England, 
at the tournament at Windsor, and the Earl of 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 119 

Warwick was tumbled over, you asked me if he did 
not look well when he fell ; and I said no, he 
looked very foolish ; and you were very angry with 
me for not flattering you. 

DAGWORTH. 

You mean that I was angry with you for not 
flattering the Earl of Warwick. 

\Exeunt. 



SCENE. Sir Thomas Daguuortfts Tent. 

SIR THOMAS DAGWORTH. To him enters SIR 
WALTER MANNY. 

SIR WALTER. 

Sir Thomas Dagworth, I have been weeping 
Over the men that are to die to-day. 

DAGWORTH. 
Why, brave Sir Walter, you or I may fall. 



120 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



SIR WALTER. 

I know this breathing flesh must lie and rot, 

Covered with silence and forgetfuJness. 

Death roams in cities' smoke, and in still night, 

When men sleep in their beds, walketh about. 

How many in walled cities lie and groan, 

Turning themselves upon their beds, 

Talking with Death, answering his hard demands ! 

How many walk in darkness, terrors are round 

The curtains of their beds, destruction is 

Ready at the door ! How many sleep 

In earth, covered with stones and deathy dust, 

Resting in quietness, whose spirits walk 

Upon the clouds of heaven, to die no more ! 

Yet death is terrible, though borne on angels' 

wings. 

How terrible then is the field of death. 
Where he doth rend the vault of heaven, 
And shake the gates of hell ! 
O Dagworth, France is sick ! the very sky, 
Though sunshine light it, seems to me as pale 
As the pale fainting man on his death-bed, 
Whose face is shown by light of sickly taper. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 121 



It makes me sad and sick at very heart ; 
Thousands must fall to-day. 

DAGWORTH. 

Thousands of souls must leave this prison-house, 

To be exalted to those heavenly fields 

Where songs of triumph, palms of victory, 

Where peace and joy and love and calm content, 

Sit singing in the azure clouds, and strew 

Flowers of heaven's growth over the banquet-table 

Bind ardent hope upon your feet like shoes, 

Put on the robe of preparation ! 

The table is prepared in shining heaven, 

The flowers of immortality are blown ; 

Let those that fight fight in good steadfastness, 

And those that fall shall rise in victory. 

SIR WALTER. 

I've often seen the burning field of war, 
And often heard the dismal clang of arms ; 
But never, till this fatal day of Cressy, 
Has my soul fainted with these views of death. 
I seem to be in one great charnel-house, 



122 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

And seem to scent the rotten carcases ; 
I seem to hear the dismal yells of Death, 
While the black gore drops from his horrid jaws : 
Yet I fear not the monster in his pride- 
But oh ! the souls that are to die to-day ! 

DAGWORTH. 

Stop, brave Sir Walter ; let me drop a tear, 

Then let the clarion of war begin ; 

I'll fight and weep, 'tis in my country's cause ; 

I'll weep and shout for glorious liberty. 

Grim War shall laugh and shout, decked in tears, 

And blood shall flow like streams across the 

meadows, 

That murmur down their pebbly channels, and 
Spend their sweet lives to do their country service : 
Then shall England's verdure shoot, her fields shall 

smile, 

Her ships shall sing across the foaming sea, 
Her mariners shall use the flute and viol, 
And rattling guns, and black and dreary war, 
Shall be no more. 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 123 

SIR WALTER. 

Well, let the trumpet sound, and the drum beat ; 
Let war stain the blue heavens with bloody 

banners ; 

I'll draw my sword, nor ever sheathe it up 
Till England blow the trump of victory, 
Or I lie stretched upon the field of death. 

\Exeunl. 

SCENE. In the Camp. 

Several of the Warriors meet at the Kings Tent 
with a Minstrel^ who sings the following Song: 

O sons of Trojan Brutus, clothed in war, 
Whose voices are the thunder of the field, 
Rolling dark clouds o'er France, muffling the sun 
In sickly darkness like a dim eclipse, 
Threatening as the red brow of storms, as fire 
Burning up nations in your wrath and fury ! 

Your ancestors came from the fires of Troy 
(Like lions roused by lightning from their dens, 
Whose eyes do glare against the stormy fires), 



124 B LAKERS POEMS. 

Heated with war, filled with the blood of Greeks, 
With helmets hewn, and shields covered with gore, 
In navies black, broken with wind and tide : 

They landed in firm array upon the rocks 

Of Albion ; they kissed the rocky shore ; 

" Be then our mother and our nurse," they said : 

" Our children's mother, and thou shalt be our 

grave, 

The sepulchre of Ancient Troy, from whence 
Shall rise cities, and thrones, and arms, and awful 

powers." 

Our fathers swarm from the ships. Giant voices 
Are heard from the hills, the enormous sons 
Of Ocean run from rocks and caves ; wild men, 
Naked and roaring like lions, hurling rocks, 
And wielding knotty clubs, like oaks entangled 
Thick as a forest, ready for the axe. 

Our fathers move in firm array to battle ; 
The savage monsters rush like roaring fire ; 
Like as a forest roars with crackling flames, 



KING EDWARD THE THIRD. 125 

When the red lightning, borne by furious storms, 
Lights on some woody shore ; the parched heavens 
Rain fire into the molten raging sea. 

The smoking trees are strewn upon the shore, 
Spoiled of their verdure. Oh how oft have they 
Defied the storm that howled o'er their heads ! 
Our fathers, sweating, lean on their spears, and view 
The mighty dead : giant bodies streaming blood, 
Dread visages frowning in silent death. 

Then Brutus spoke, inspired ; our fathers sit 

Attentive on the melancholy shore : 

Hear ye the voice of Brutus " The flowing waves 

Of time come rolling o'er my breast," he said ; 

" And my heart labours with futurity. 

Our sons shall rule the empire of the sea. 

"Their mighty wings shall stretch from east to west, 
Their nest is in the sea, but they shall roam 
Like eagles for the prey ; nor shall the young 
Crave or be heard ; for plenty shall bring forth, 



126 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Cities shall sing, and vales in rich array 
Shall laugh, whose fruitful laps bend down with 
fulness. 

" Our sons shall rise from thrones in joy, 
Each one buckling on his armour ; Morning 
Shall be prevented by their swords gleaming, 
And Evening hear their song of victory : 
Their towers shall be built upon the rocks, 
Their daughters shall sing, surrounded with shining 
spears. 

"Liberty shall stand upon the cliffs of Albion, 
Casting her blue eyes over the green ocean ; 
Or towering stand upon the roaring waves, 
Stretching her mighty spear o'er distant lands ; 
While with her eagle wings she covereth 
Fair Albion's shore, and all her families." 




PROLOGUE. 127 



PROLOGUE. 

INTENDED FOR A DRAMATIC PIECE OF KING 
EDWARD THE FOURTH. 

/""\H for a voice like thunder, and a tongue 

^^ To drown the throat of war I When the 

senses 

Are shaken, and the soul is driven to madness, 
Who can stand? When the souls of the oppressed 
Fight in the troubled air that rages, who can stand? 
When the whirlwind of fury comes from the throne 
Of God, when the frowns of His countenance 
Drive the nations together, who can stand ? 
When Sin claps his broad wings over the battle, 
And sails rejoicing in the flood of death ; 
When souls are torn to everlasting fire, 
And fiends of hell rejoice upon the slain, 
Oh who can stand ? Oh who hath caused this ? 
Oh who can answer at the throne of God ? 
The Kings and Nobles of the land have done it ! 
Hear it not, Heaven, thy ministers have done it ! 



128 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



PROLOGUE TO KING JOHN. 

JUSTICE hath heaved a sword to plunge in 
Albion's breast ; 

For Albion's sins are crimson-dyed, 
And the red scourge follows her desolate sons. 
Then Patriot rose ; full oft did Patriot rise, 
When Tyranny hath stained fair Albion's breast 
With her own children's gore. 
Round his majestic feet deep thunders roll ; 
Each heart does tremble, and each knee grows 

slack. [war, 

The stars of heaven tremble ; the roaring voice of 
The trumpet, calls to battle. Brother in brother's 

blood 

Must bathe, rivers of death. O land most hapless ! 
O beauteous island, how forsaken ! 
Weep from thy silver fountains, weep from thy 

gentle rivers ! 

The angel of the island weeps ; 
The widowed virgins weep beneath thy shades. 
Thy aged fathers gird themselves for war ; 



PROLOGUE TO KING JOHN. 129 

The sucking infant lives, to die in battle ; 

The weeping mother feeds him for the slaughter. 

The husbandman doth leave his bending harvest. 

Blood cries afar ! The land doth sow itself ! 

The glittering youth of courts must gleam in arms ; 

The aged senators their ancient swords assume ; 

The trembling sinews of old age must work 

The work of death against their progeny. 

For Tyranny hath stretched his purple arm, 

And " Blood ! " he cries : " The chariots and the 

horses, 
The noise of shout, and dreadful thunder of the 

battle heard afar ! " 

Beware, O proud ! thou shalt be humbled ; 
Thy cruel brow, thine iron heart is smitten, 
Though lingering Fate is slow. O yet may Albion 
Smile again, and stretch her peaceful arms, 
And raise her golden head exultingly ! 
Her citizens shall throng about her gates, 
Her mariners shall sing upon the sea, 
And myriads shall to her temples crowd 1 
Her sons shall joy as in the morning 
Her daughters sing as to the rising year ! 




SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 

(ENGRAVED 1789.) 
INTRODUCTION. 



down the valleys wild, 
Piping songs of pleasant glee, 
On a cloud I saw a child, 
And he laughing said to me : 

<JV Pipe a song about a Lamb ! " 
So I piped with merry cheer. 

" Piper, pipe that song again ; " 
So I piped : he wept to hear. 

" Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe ; 
Sing thy songs of happy cheer ! ' 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 131 

So I sang the same again, 
While he wept with joy to hear. 

" Piper, sit thee down and write 

In a book that all may read." 

So he vanished from my sight ; 

And I plucked a hollow reed, 

And I made a rural pen, 

And I stained the water clear, 

And I wrote my happy songs 
Every child my joy to hear. 




132 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



THE SHEPHERD. 

T T OW sweet is the shepherd's sweet lot ! 
^ -^ From the morn to the evening he strays ; 
He shall follow his sheep all the day, 
And his tongue shall be filled with praise. 

For he hears the lambs' innocent call, 
And he hears the ewes' tender reply ; 
He is watchful while they are in peace, 
For they know when their shepherd is nigh. 



THE ECHOING GREEN. 

''T^HE sun does arise, 

" And make happy the skies ; 
The merry bells ring, 
To welcome the Spring ; 
The skylark and thrush, 
The birds of the bush, 
Sing louder around 
To the bells' cheerful sound ; 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 133 

While our sports shall be seen 
On the echoing green. 

Old John, with white hair, 
Does laugh away care, 
Sitting under the oak, 
Among the old folk. 
They laugh at our play, 
And soon they all say, 
" Such, such were the joys 
When we all girls and boys 
In our youth-time were seen 
On the echoing green." 

Till the little ones, weary, 
No more can be merry : 
The sun does descend, 
And our sports have an end. 
Round the laps of their mothers 
Many sisters and brothers, 
Like birds in their nest, 
Are ready for rest, 
And sport no more seen 
On the darkening green. 



134 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



THE LAMB. 

T ITTLE lamb, who made thee ? 
-^ Dost thou know who made thee, 
Gave thee life, and bade thee feed 
By the stream and o'er the mead ; 
Gave thee clothing of delight, 
Softest clothing, woolly, bright ; 
Gave thee such a tender voice, 
Making all the vales rejoice ? 

Little lamb, who made thee ? 

Dost thou know who made thee ? 

Little lamb, I'll tell thee ; 

Little lamb, I'll tell thee : 
He is called by thy name, 
For He calls himself a lamb. 
He is meek, and He is mild, 
He became a little child. 
I a child, and thou a lamb, 
We are called by His name. 

Little lamb, God bless thee I 

Little lamb, God bless thee 1 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 135 



THE LITTLE BLACK BOY. 

1WT Y mother bore me in the southern wild, 

And I am black, but oh my soul is white, 
White as an angel is the English child, 
But I am black, as if bereaved of light. 

My mother taught me underneath a tree, 
And, sitting down before the heat of day, 

She took me on her lap and kissed me, 
And, pointing to the East, began to say : 

" Look on the rising sun : there God does live, 
And gives his light, and gives his heat away, 

And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive 
Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday. 

" And we are put on earth a little space, 
That we may learn to bear the beams of love ; 

And these black bodies and this sunburnt face 
Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove. 



136 B LAKERS POEMS. 

" For, when our souls have learned the heat to 

bear, 

The cloud will vanish, we shall hear his voice, 
Saying, ' Come out from the grove, my love and 

care, 
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' " 

Thus did my mother say, and kissed me, 
And thus I say to little English boy. 

When I from black, and he from white cloud free, 
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy, 

I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear 
To lean in joy upon our Father's knee ; 

And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, 
And be like him, and he will then love me. 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 137 



THE BLOSSOM. 

TV /f ERRY, merry sparrow ! 

^ ^ Under leaves so green 

A happy blossom 
Sees you, swift as arrow, 
" Seek your cradle narrow, 

Near my bosom. 

Pretty, pretty robin 1 
Under leaves so green 
A happy blossom 
Hears you sobbing, sobbing, 
Pretty, pretty robin, 
Near my bosom. 



THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER. 



TlfT'HEN m Y mother died I was very young, 

* " And my father sold me while yet my tongue 
Could scarcely cry, " Weep ! weep ! weep ! weep 1 " 
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep. 



138 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his 

head, 
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved ; so I 

said, 
" Hush, Tom ! never mind it, for, when your head's 

bare, 
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white 

hair." 

And so he was quiet, and that very night, 

As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight ! 

That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and 

Jack, 
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black. 

And by came an angel, who had a bright key, 
And he opened the coffins and set them all free ; 
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they 

run, 
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun. 

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind, 
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind ; 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 139 

And the angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy, 
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy. 

And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark, 
And got with our bags and our brushes to work. 
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy 

and warm : 
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm. 



THE LITTLE BOY LOST. 



, father, where are you going ? 
Oh do not walk so fast ! 
Speak, father, speak to your little boy, 
Or else I shall be lost." 

The night was dark, no father was there, 

The child was wet with dew ; 
The mire was deep, and the child did weep, 

And away the vapour flew. 



140 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



THE LITTLE BOY FOUND. 

E little boy lost in the lonely fen, 
Led by the wandering light, 
Began to cry, but God, ever nigh, 
Appeared like his father, in white. 

He kissed the child, and by the hand led, 

And to his mother brought, 
Who in sorrow pale, through the lonely dale, 

The little boy weeping sought. 



LAUGHING SONG. 

T Ji THEN the green woods laugh with the voice 
VV ofjoy, 

And the dimpling stream runs laughing by ; 
When the air does laugh with our merry wit, 
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it ; 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 141 

When the meadows laugh with lively green, 
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene ; 
When Mary, and Susan, and Emily 
With their sweet round mouths sing, " Ha, ha, he ! '' 

When the painted birds laugh in the shade, 
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread : 
Come live, and be merry, and join with me, 
To sing the sweet chorus of " Ha, ha, he ! " 



A CRADLE SONG. 

WEET dreams, form a shade 

O'er my lovely infant's head ! 
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams 
By happy, silent, moony beams ! 

Sweet sleep, with soft down 
Weave thy brows an infant crown ! 
Sweet sleep, angel mild, 
Hover o'er my happy child ! 



142 BLAKE '5 POEMS. 

Sweet smiles, in the night 
Hover over my delight ! 
Sweet smiles, mother's smile, 
All the livelong night beguile. 

Sweet moans, dovelike sighs, 
Chase not slumber from thine eyes !. 
Sweet moan, sweeter smile, 
All the dovelike moans beguile 

Sleep, sleep, happy child ! 
All creation slept and smiled. 
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep, 
While o'er thee doth mother weep. 

Sweet babe, in thy face 
Holy image I can trace ; 
Sweet babe, once like thee 
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me : 

Wept for me, for thee, for all, 
When He was an infant small. 
Thou His image ever see, 
Heavenly face that smiles on thee ! 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 143 

Smiles on thee, on me, on all, 
Who became an infant small ; 
Infant smiles are His own smiles : 
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles. 



THE DIVINE IMAGE. 

HHO Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, 

*- All pray in their distress, 
And to these virtues of delight 
Return their thankfulness. 

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, 

Is God our Father dear ; 
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, 

Is man, his child and care. 

For Mercy has a human heart ; 

Pity, a human face ; 
And Love, the human form divine ; 

And Peace, the human dress. 



144 BLAK&S POEMS. 

Then every man, of every clime, 
That prays in his distress, 

Prays to the human form divine : 
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace. 

And all must love the human form, 
In heathen, Turk, or Jew. 

Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell, 
There God is dwelling too. 



T 



HOLY THURSDAY. I/ 

'WAS on a Holy Thursday, their innocent 
faces clean, 



Came children walking two and two, in red, and 

blue, and green : 
Grey-headed beadles walked before, with wands as 

white as snow, 
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames 

waters flow. 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 145 

Oh what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of 

London town ! 
Seated in companies they sit, with radiance all 

their own. 
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of 

lambs, 
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their 

innocent hands. 

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the 

voice of song, 
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven 

among : 
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of 

the poor. 
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from 

your door. 



146 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



NIGHT. 

T^HE sun descending in the west, 
** The evening star does shine . 
The birds are silent in their nest, 
And I must seek for mine. 

The moon like a flower 

In heaven's high bower, 

With silent delight, 

Sits and smiles on the night. 

Farewell, green fields and happy grove, 
Where flocks have ta'en delight. 
Where lambs have nibbled, silent move 
The feet of angels bright ; 

Unseen, they pour blessing, 

And joy without ceasing, 

On, each bud and blossom, 

And each sleeping bosom. 

They look in every thoughtless nest 
Where birds are covered warm ; 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 147 

They visit caves of every beast, 
To keep them all from harm : 

If they see any weeping 

That should have been sleeping, 

They pour sleep on their head, 

And sit down by their bed. 

When wolves and tigers howl for prey, 
They pitying stand and weep, 
Seeking to drive their thirst away, 
And keep them from the sheep. 

But, if they rush dreadful, 

The angels, most heedful, 

Receive each mild spirit, 

New worlds to inherit. 



And there the lion's ruddy eyes 
Shall flow with tears of gold : 
And pitying the tender crie's, 
And walking round the fold : 

Saying : " Wrath by His meekness, 
And, by His health, sickness, 



148 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Are driven away 

From our immortal day. 

"And now beside thee, bleating lamb, 

I can lie down and sleep, 

Or think on Him who bore thy name, 

Graze after thee, and weep. 
For, washed in life's river, 
My bright mane for ever 
Shall shine like the gold, 
As I guard o'er the fold." 



SPRING. 

OOUND the flute 1^ 
^^ Now 'tis mute ; 
Birds dejight, 
Day and night, 
Nightingale, 
In the dale, 
Lark in sky 
Merrily, 
Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year. 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 149 

Little boy, 
Full of joy ; 
Little girl, 
Sweet and small, 
Cock does crow, 
So do you ; 
Merry voice, 
Infant noise ; 
Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year. 

Little lamb, 
Here I am ; 
Come and lick 
My white neck ; 
Let me pull 
Your soft wool ; 
Let me kiss 
Your soft face ; 
Merrily, merrily we welcome in the year. 



ISO BLAK&S POEMS. 



NURSE'S SONG. v ' 

\X 7HEN the voices of children are heard on the 
* * green, 

And laughing is heard on the hill, 
My heart is at rest within my breast, 

And everything else is still. 

"Then come home, my children, the sun is gone 
down, 

And the dews of night arise ; 
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away, 

Till the morning appears in the skies." 

*" No, no, let us play, for it is yet day, 

And we cannot go to sleep ; 
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly, 

And the hills are all covered with sheep." 
"Well, well, go and play till the light fades away, 

And then go home to bed." 
The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed, 

And all the hills echoed. 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. i;i 



INFANT JOY. 

; T HAVE no name ; 
* I am but two days old." 
What shall I call thee? 
" I happy am, 
Joy is my name," 
Sweet joy befall thee ! 

Pretty joy ! 

Sweet joy, but two days old. 

Sweet joy I call thee ; 

Thou dost smile, 

I sing the while ; 

Sweet joy befall thee 1 



A DREAM, 



a dream did weave a shade 
O'er my angel-guarded bed, 
That an emmet lost its way 
Where on grass methought I lay. 



i $2 B LAKERS POEMS. 

Troubled, wildered, and forlorn, 
Dark, benighted, travel- worn, 
Over many a tangled spray, 
All heart-broke, I heard her say : 

" Oh, my children ! do they cry, 
Do they hear their father sigh ? 
Now they look abroad to see, 
Now return and weep for me." 

Pitying, I dropped a tear : 
But I saw a glow-worm near, 
Who replied, " What wailing wight 
Calls the watchman of the night ? 

" I am set to light the ground, 
While the beetle goes his round : 
Follow now the beetle's hum ; 
Little wanderer, hie thee home 1 






SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 153 



ON ANOTHER'S SORROW. 

N I see another's woe, 

nd not be in sorrow too ? 
Can I see another's grief, 
And not seek for kind relief? 

Can I see a falling tear, 
And not feel my sorrow's share ? 
Can a father see his child 
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled ? 

Can a mother sit and hear 
An infant groan, an infant fear ? 
No, no ! never can it be ! 
Never, never can it be ! 

And can He who smiles on all 
Hear the wren with sorrows small, 
Hear the small bird's grief and care 
Hear the woes that infants bear 

And not sit beside the nest, 
Pouring pity in their breast, 



154 B 'LAKE'S POEMS. 

And not sit the cradle near, 
Weeping tear on infant's tear ? 

And not sit both night and day, 
Wiping all our tears away ? 
Oh no ! never can it be ! 
Never, never can it be ! 

He doth give His joy to all : 
He becomes an Infant small, 
He becomes a Man of Woe, 
He doth feel the sorrow too. 

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh, 
And thy Maker is not by : 
Think not thou canst weep a tear, 
And thy Maker is not near. 

Oh, He gives to us His joy, 
That our grief He may destroy : 
Till our grief is fled and gone 
He doth sit by us and moan. 



SONGS OF INNOCENCE. 155 



THE VOICE OF THE ANCIENT BARD. 

"WOUTH of delight ! come hither 

* And see the opening morn, 
Image of Truth new-born. 
Doubt is fled, and clouds of reason, 
Dark disputes and artful teazing. 
Folly is an endless maze ; 
Tangled roots perplex her ways ; 
How many have fallen there ! 
They stumble all night over bones of the dead ; 
And feel they know not what, but care ; 
And wish to lead others, when they should be led. 





SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 



(ENGRAVED 1794.) 
INTRODUCTION. 

T T EAR the voice of the Bard, 

^ Who present, past, and future sees 

Whose ears have heard 

The Holy Word 

That walked among the ancient trees ; 

Calling the lapsed soul, 

And weeping in the evening dew ; \S 

That might control 

The starry pole, 

And fallen, fallen light renew 1 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 157 

" O Earth, O Earth, return ! 

Arise from out the dewy grass 1 ^ 

Night is worn, 

And the morn 

Rises from the slumb'rous mass. 

" Turn away no more ; 

Why wilt thou turn away ? 

The starry floor, 

The watery shore, 

Are given thee till the break of day." 



EARTH'S ANSWER. 

T^ARTH raised up her head 

-'-' From the darkness dread and drear, v 

Her light fled, 

Stony, dread, 

And her locks covered with grey despair. 



158 BLAK&S POEMS. 

11 Prisoned on watery shore, 

Starry jealousy does keep my den 

Cold and hoar : 

Weeping o'er, 

I hear the father of the ancient men, 

" Selfish father of men ! 

Cruel, jealous, selfish fear 1 

Can delight, 

Chained in night, 

The virgins of youth and morning bear 1 

" Does spring hide its joy, 

When buds and blossoms grow? 

Does the sower 

Sow by night, 

Or the ploughman in darkness plough ? 

" Break this heavy chain, 

That does freeze my bones around ! 

Selfish, vain, 

Eternal bane, 

That free love with bondage bound." 



SONGS OF EXPEDIENCE. 159 



THE CLOD AND THE PEBBLE. 

" T OVE 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 sang 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." 



160 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



HOLY THURSDAY. '/ 

TS this a holy thing to see 
-* In a rich and fruitful land 
Babes reduced to misery, 
Fed with cold and usurous hand ? 



Is that trembling cry a song ? 

Can it be a song of joy? 
And so many children poor? 

It is a land of poverty ! 

And their sun does never shine, 
And their fields are bleak and bare, 

And their ways are filled with thorns : 
It is eternal winter there. 



For where'er the sun does shine, 
And where'er the rain does fall, 

Babes should never hunger there, 
Nor poverty the mind appal. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 161 



THE LITTLE GIRL LOST, ^ 



T N futurity 
* I prophetic see 
That the earth from sleep 
(Grave the sentence deep) 

Shall arise and seek 
For her Maker meek ; 
And the desert wild 
Become a garden mild. 

In the southern clime, 
Where the Summer's prime 
Never fades away, 
Lovely Lyca lay. 

Seven summers old 
Lovely Lyca told. 
She had wandered long, 
Hearing wild birds' song. 
L 



1 62 B 'LAKE'S POEMS. 

" Sweet sleep, come to me 
Underneath this tree ; 
Do father, mother, weep? 
Where can Lyca sleep ? 

" Lost in desert wild 
Is your little child. 
How can Lyca sleep 
If her mother weep ? 

u If her heart does ache, 
Then let Lyca wake ; 
If my mother sleep, 
Lyca shall not weep. 

" Frowning, frowning night, 
O'er this desert bright 
Let thy moon arise, 
While I close my eyes." 

Sleeping Lyca lay 
While the beasts of prey, 
Come from caverns deep, 
Viewed the maid asleep. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 163 



The kingly lion stood, 
And the virgin viewed : 
Then he gambolled round 
O'er the hallowed ground. 

Leopards, tigers play 
Round her as she lay ; 
While the lion old 
Bowed his mane of gold, 

And her breast did lick, 
And upon her neck, 
From his eyes of flame, 
Ruby tears there came ; 

While the lioness 
Loosed her slender dress, 
And naked they conveyed 
To caves the sleeping maid. 



1 64 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



THE LITTLE GIRL FOUND. 

A LLjthe Jiight in woe 
'** Lyca's parents go 
Over valleys deep, 
While the deserts weep. 



Tired and woe-begone, 
Hoarse with making moan, 
Arm in arm, seven days 
They traced the desert ways. 

Seven nights they sleep 
Among shadows deep, 
And dream they see their child 
Starved in desert wild. 

Pale through pathless ways 
The fancied image strays, 
Famished, weeping, weak, 
With hollow piteous shr,iek. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 165 

Rising from unrest, 
The trembling woman pressed 
With feet of weary woe ; 
She could no further go. 

In his arms he bore 

Her, armed with sorrow sore ; 

Till before their way 

A crouching lion lay. 

Turning back was vain : 
Soon his heavy mane 
Bore them to the ground. 
Then he stalked around, 

Smelling to his prey ; 
But their fears allay 
When he licks their hands, 
And silent by them stands. 

They look upon his eyes, 
Filled with deep surprise ; 
And wondering behold 
A spirit armed in gold. 



i66 BLAKfrS POEMS. 

On his head a crown, 
On his shoulders down 
Flowed his golden hair. 
Gone was all their care. 

" Follow me," he said ; 
" Weep not for the maid ; 
In my palace deep 
Lyca lies asleep." 

Then they followed 
Where the vision led, 
And saw their sleeping child 
Among tigers wild. 

To this day they dwell 
In a lonely dell, 
Nor fear the wolvish howl 
Nor the lion's growl. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 167 



THE CHIMNEY SWEEPER.^ 

A LITTLE black thing among the snow, 
**" Crying, " Weep ! weep ! " in notes of woe ! 
" Where are thy father and mother ? Say ! " 
" They are both gone up to the church to pray. 

" Because I was happy upon the heath, 
And smiled among the winter's snow, 
They clothed me in the clothes of death, ^ 
And taught me to sing the notes of woe. 

"And because I am happy and dance and sing, 
They think they have done me no injury, 
And are gone to praise God and his priest and king, 
Who make up a heaven of our misery." 



THE SICK ROSE. L 

ROSE, thou art sick ! 
The invisible worm, 
That flies in the night, ^ 
In the howling storm, 



i68 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



Has found out thy bed 

Of crimson joy, 
And his dark secret love 

Does thy life destroy. 



NURSE'S SONG. 

\ 71 JTHEN the voices of children are heard on the 
* V green, 

And whisperings are in the dale, 
The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind, 

My face turns green and pale. 

Then come home, my children, the sun is gone 
down, 

And the dews of night arise ; V 
Your spring and your day are wasted in play, 

And your winter and night in disguise. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 169 



THE FLY. 



T ITTLE Fly, 
*-^ Thy summer's play 
My thoughtless hand 
Has brushed away. 

Am not 1 
A fly like thee? 
Or art not thou 
A man like me ? 

For I dance, 
And drink, and sing, 
Till some blind hand : 
Shall brush my wing. 

If thought is life 

And strength and breath, 

And the want 

Of thought is death ; 



i;o B LAKERS POEMS. 

Then am I 
A happy fly, 
If I live, 
Or if I die. 



THE ANGEL. 

T DREAMT a dream ! What can it mean ? 
* And that I was a maiden Queen 
Guarded by an Angel mild : 
Witless woe was ne'er beguiled ! 

And I wept both night and day, v 
And he wiped my tears away ; 
And I wept both day and night, 
And hid from him my heart's delight. 

So he took his wings, and fled ; 
Then the morn blushed rosy red. 
I dried my tears, and armed my fears 
With ten thousand shields and spears. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 171 

Soon my Angel came again ; 
I was armed, he came in vain ; 
For the time of youth was fled, 
And grey hairs were on my head. 



THE TIGER. 

r "TMGER, tiger, burning bright 
A In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry ? 

In what distant deeps or skies 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes ? 
On what wings dare he aspire ? 
What the hand dare seize the fire ? 

And what shoulder and what art 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart ? 
And, when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand and what dread feet ? 



172 BLAK&S POEMS. 

What the hammer? what the chain ? 
In what furnace was thy brain ? 
What the anvil ? what dread grasp 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp ? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 
And watered heaven with their tears, 
Did He smile his work to see ? 
Did He who made the lamb make thee ? 

Tiger, tiger, burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry ? 



MY PRETTY ROSE TREE. 

A FLOWER was offered to me, 
*** Such a flower as May never bore ; 
But I said, " I've a pretty rose tree," 
And I passed the sweet flower o'er. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 173 

Then I went to my pretty rose tree, 
To tend her by day and by night ; 

But my rose turned away with jealousy, 
And her thorns were my only delight. 



AH, SUNFLOWER. 

A H, Sunflower, weary of time, 
^""^ Who countest the steps of the sun ; 
Seeking after that sweet golden clime 
Where the traveller's journey is done ; 

Where the Youth pined away with desire, 
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow, 

Arise from their graves, and aspire 
Where my Sunflower wishes to go ! 



174 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



THE LILY. 

HT^HE modest Rose puts forth a thorn, 

* The humble sheep a threat'ning horn ; 
While the Lily white shall in love delight, 
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright. 



THE GARDEN OF LOVE. 

T LAID me down upon a bank 
A Where Love lay sleeping ; 
I heard among the rushes dank 
Weeping, weeping. 

Then I went to the heath and the wild, 
To the thistles and thorns of the waste ; 

And they told me how they were beguiled, 
Driven out, and compelled to be chaste. 

I went to the Garden of Love, 
And saw what I never had seen ; 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 175 

A chapel was built in the midst, 
Where I used to play on the green. 

And the gates of this chapel were shut, 
And " Thou shalt not " writ over the door ; 

So I turned to the Garden of Love, 
That so many sweet flowers bore. 

And I saw it was filled with graves, 

And tombstones where flowers should be ; 
And priests in black gowns were walking their 

rounds, 
And binding with briars my joys and desires. 



THE LITTLE VAGABOND. u 

1T\EAR mother, dear mother, the Church is cold ; 
-*-^ But the Alehouse is healthy, and pleasant, 

and warm. 

Besides, I can tell where I am used well ; 
The poor parsons with wind like a blown bladder 
swell. 



176 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

But, if at the Church they would give us some ale, 
And a pleasant fire our souls to regale, 
We'd sing arid we'd pray all the livelong day, 
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray. 

Then the Parson might preach, and drink, and sing, 
And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring ; 
And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church, 
Would not havebandychildren,norfasting, nor birch. 

And God, like a father, rejoicing to see 

His children as pleasant and happy as he, 

Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the 

barrel, 
But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel. 



LONDON. 

T WANDER through each chartered street, 
-* Near where the chartered Thames does 

flow, 

A mark in every face I meet 
Marks of weakness, marks of woe. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 177 

In every cry of every man, 

In every infant's cry of fear, 
In every voice, in every ban, 

The mind-forged manacles I hear : 

How the chimney-sweeper's cry 
Every blackening church appals, 

And the hapless soldier's sigh 
Runs in blood down palace-walls. 

But most, through midnight streets I hear 
How the youthful harlot's curse 

Blasts the new-born infant's tear, 
And blights with plagues the marriage- 
hearse. 



THE HUMAN ABSTRACT. u 



p 



>ITY would be no more 

If we did not make somebody poor, 
And Mercy no more could be 
If all were as happy as we. 



M 



1 78 BLAK&S POEMS. 

And mutual fear brings Peace, 
Till the selfish loves increase ; 
Then Cruelty knits a snare, 
And spreads his baits with care. 

He sits down with holy fears, 
And waters the ground with tears ; 
Then Humility takes its root 
Underneath his foot. 

Soon spreads the dismal shade \/ 
Of Mystery over his head, 
And the caterpillar and fly 
Feed on the Mystery. 

And it bears the fruit of Deceit, 
Ruddy and sweet to eat, 
And the raven his nest has made v 
In its thickest shade. 

The gods of the earth and sea 
Sought through nature to find this tree, 
But their search was all in vain : 
There grows one in the human Brain. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 179 



INFANT SORROW. 

1\ yTY mother groaned, my father wept : 

* A Into the dangerous world I leapt, 
Helpless, naked, piping loud, 
Like a fiend hid in a cloud. 

Struggling in my father's hands 
Striving against my swaddling-bands, 
Bound and weary, I thought best 
To sulk upon my mother's breast. 



CHRISTIAN FORBEARANCE. 

T WAS angry with my friend : 

-* I told my wrath, my wrath did end. 

I was angry with my foe : 

I told it not, my wrath did grow. 

And I watered it in fears 

Night and morning with my tears, 



i8o B 'LAKE'S POEMS. 

And I sunned it with smiles 
And with soft deceitful wiles. 

And it grew both day and night 
Till it bore an apple bright, 
And my foe beheld it shine, 
And he knew that it was mine, 

And into my garden stole 

When the night had veiled the pole ; 

In the morning, glad, I see 

My foe outstretched beneath the tree. 



A LITTLE BOY LOST. 

" 1\T OUGHT loves another as itself, 

Nor venerates another so, 
Nor is it possible to thought 
A greater than itself to know. 

" And, father, how can I love yon 
Or any of my brothers more ? 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 181 

I love you like the little bird 
That picks up crumbs around the door." 

The Priest sat by and heard the child ; 

In trembling zeal he seized his hair, 
He led him by his little coat, 

And all admired the priestly care. 

And standing on the altar high, 

" Lo, what a fiend is here ! " said he : 

" One who sets reason up for judge 
Of our most holy mystery." 

The weeping child could not be heard, 
The weeping parents wept in vain : 

They stripped him to his little shirt, 
And bound him in an iron chain, 

And burned him in a holy place 

Where many had been burned before ; 

The weeping parents wept in vain. 

Are such things done on Albion's shore? 

i 



1 82 BLAKE* S POEMS. 



A LITTLE GIRL LOST. 

/CHILDREN of the future age, 
^-"' Reading this indignant page, 
Know that in a former time 
Love, sweet love, was thought a crime. 

In the age of gold, 

Free from winter's cold, 

Youth and maiden bright, 

To the holy light, 

Naked in the sunny beams delight. 

Once a youthful pair, 

Filled with softest care, 

Met in garden bright 

Where the holy light 

Had just removed the curtains of the night. 

Then, in rising day, iX 

On the grass they play ; 

Parents were afar, 

Strangers came not near, 

And the maiden soon forgot her fear. 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE, 



Tired with kisses sweet, 

They agree to meet 

When the silent sleep 

Waves o'er heaven's deep, 

And the weary tired wanderers weep. 

To her father white 

Came the maiden bright ; 

But his loving look, 

Like the holy book, 

All her tender limbs with terror shook. 

" Ona, pale and weak, 

To thy father speak ! 

Oh, the trembling fear ! 

Oh, the dismal care 

That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair ! " 



1 84 BLAK&S POEMS. 



A DIVINE IMAGE. - 

/CRUELTY has a human heart, 
^- / And Jealousy a human face ; 
Terror the human form divine, 
And Secrecy the human dress. 

The human dress is forged iron, 
The human form a fiery forge, 

The human face a furnace sealed, 
The human heart its hungry gorge. 



THE SCHOOLBOY. 

T LOVE to rise on a summer morn, 

When birds are singing on every tree ; 
The distant huntsman winds his horn, 

And the skylark sings with me : 

Oh what sweet company ! 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 185 

But to go to school in a summer morn 

Oh, it drives all joy away ! 
Under a cruel eye outworn, 

The little ones spend the day 

In sighing and dismay. 

Ah, then at times I drooping sit, 
And spend many an anxious hour ; 

Nor in my book can I take delight, 
Nor sit in learning's bower, 
Worn through with the dreary shower. 

How can the bird that is born for joy 

Sit in a cage and sing ? 
How can a child, when fears annoy, 

But droop his tender wing, 

And forget his youthful spring ? 

Ah, father and mother, if buds are nipped, 

And blossoms blown away ; 
And if the tender plants are stripped 

Of their joy in the springing day, 

By sorrow and care's dismay 



1 86 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



How shall the summer arise in joy, 
Or the summer fruits appear? 

Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy, 
Or bless the mellowing year, 
When the blasts of winter appear ? 



TO TIRZAH. 

1X7HATE'ER is born of mortal birth 

" * Must be consumed with the earth, 
To rise from generation free : 
Then what have I to do with thee ? 

The sexes sprang from shame and pride, 
Blown in the morn, in evening died ; 
But mercy changed death into sleep ; 
The sexes rose to work and weep. 

Thou, mother of my mortal part, 
With cruelty didst mould my heart, 
And with false self-deceiving tears 
Didst bind my nostrils, eyes, and ears,*/ 



SONGS OF EXPERIENCE. 



187 



Didst close my tongue in senseless clay, 
And me to mortal life betray. 
The death of Jesus set me free*: 
Then what have I to do with thee ? 




THE BOOK OF THEL. 

(ENGRAVED 1789.) 

Does the Eagle know what is in the pit, 
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole ? 

Can wisdom be put in a silver rod, 
Or love in a golden bowl? 



'T"^HE Daughters of the Seraphim led round their 

** sunny flocks 
All but the youngest : she in paleness sought the 

secret air, 
To fade away like morning beauty from her mortal 

day. 

Down by the river of Adona her soft voice is heard, 
And thus her gentle lamentation falls like morning 

dew. 



THE BOOK OF THEL. 189 

" O life of this our Spring ! why fades the lotus of 

the water ? 
Why fade these children of the Spring, born but to 

smile and fall ? 
Ah ! Thel is like a watery bow, and like a parting 

cloud, 
Like a reflection in a glass, like shadows in the 

water, 
Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an 

infant's face, 
Like the dove's voice, like transient day, like music 

in the air. 
Ah ! gentle may I lay me down, and gentle rest 

my head, 
And gentle sleep the sleep of death, and gentle 

hear the voice 
Of Him that walketh in the garden in the evening 

time ! " 

f 

The Lily of the Valley, breathing in the humble 

grass, 
Answered the lovely maid, and said : " I am a 

watery weed, 



1 90 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

And I am very small, and love to dwell in lowly 

vales ; 
So weak, the gilded butterfly scarce perches on my 

head. 
Yet I am visited from heaven ; and He that smiles 

on all 
Walks in the valley, and each morn over me 

spreads his hand, 

Saying, * Rejoice, thou humble grass, thou new- 
born lily-flower, 
Thou gentle maid of silent valleys and of modest 

brooks ; 
For thou shalt be clothed in light, and fed with 

morning manna, 
Till summer's heat melts thee beside the fountains 

and the springs, 
To flourish in eternal vales.' Then why should 

Thel complain ? 
Why should the mistress of the vales of Har utter 

a sigh ? " 

She ceased, and smiled in tears, then sat down in 
her silver shrine. 



THE BOOK OF THEL. 191 



Thel answered : " O thou little virgin of the peace- 
ful valley, 

Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, 
the o'ertired, 

Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb ; he 
smells thy milky garments, 

He crops thy flowers, while thou sittest smiling in 
his face, 

Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all con- 
tagious taints. 

Thy wine doth purify the golden honey ; thy 
perfume, 

Which thou dost scatter on every little blade of 
grass that springs, 

Revives the milked cow, and tames the fire- 
breathing steed. 

But Thel is like a faint cloud kindled at the rising 
sun : 

I vanish from my pearly throne, and who shall find 
my place ? " 

" Queen of the vales," the Lily answered, " ask the 
tender Cloud, 






192 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

And it shall tell thee why it glitters in the morning 

sky, 
And why it scatters its bright beauty through the 

humid air. 
Descend, O little Cloud, and hover before the eyes 

ofThel." 

The Cloud descended ; and the Lily bowed her 

modest head, 
And went to mind her numerous charge among the 

verdant grass. 



n. 



" O little cloud," the virgin said, " I charge thee 

tell to me 
Why thou complainest not, when in one hour thou 

fad'st away : 
Then we shall seek thee, but not find. Ah ! Thel 

is like to thee 
I pass away ; yet I complain, and no one hears my 

voice." 



THE BOOK OF THEL. 193 

The Cloud then showed his golden head, and his 

bright form emerged, 
Hovering and glittering on the air, before the face 

ofThel. 

" O virgin, know'st thou not our steeds drink of the 

golden springs 
Where Luvah doth renew his horses ! Look'st 

thou on my youth, 
And fearest thou because I vanish and am seen no 

more ? 
Nothing remains. O maid, I tell thee, when I 

pass away, 
It is to tenfold life, to love, to peace, and raptures 

holy. 
Unseen descending weigh my light wings upon 

balmy flowers, 
And court the fair-eyed Dew to take me to her 

shining tent : 
The weeping virgin trembling kneels before the 

risen sun, 
Till we arise, linked in a golden band, and never 

part, 



194 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

But walk united, bearing food to all our tender 
, flowers." 

" Dost thou, O little Cloud ? I fear that I am not 

like thee ; 
For I walk through the vales of Har, and smell the 

sweetest flowers, 
But I feed not the little flowers : I hear the 

warbling birds, 
But I feed not the warbling birds, they fly and 

seek their food. 
But Thel delights in these no more ! because I 

fade away, 
And all shall say, ' Without a use this shining 

woman lived, 
Or did she only live to be at death the food of 

worms ? ' " 

The Cloud reclined upon his airy throne, and 
answered thus : 

" Then if thou art the food of worms, O virgin of 
the skies, 



THE BOOK OF THEL. 195 

How great thy use, how great thy blessing ! Every 

thing that lives 
Lives not alone nor for itself. Fear not, and I 

will call 
The weak Worm from its lowly bed, and thou shalt 

hear its voice. 
Come forth, Worm of the silent valley, to thy 

pensive queen." 

The helpless Worm arose, and sat upon the Lily's 

leaf, 
And the bright Cloud sailed on to find his partner 

in the vale. 

III. 

Then Thel, astonished, viewed the Worm upon its 
dewy bed. 

" Art thou a worm, image of weakness ? art thou 

but a worm ? 

I see thee, like an infant, wrapped in the Lily's leaf. 
Ah ! weep not, little voice ; thou canst not speak, 

but thou canst weep. 



196 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Is this a worm ? I see thee lie helpless and naked, 

weeping, 
And none to answer, none to cherish thee with 

mother's smiles." 

The Clod of Clay heard the Worm's voice, and 

raised her pitying head : 
She bowed over the weeping infant, and her life 

exhaled 
In milky fondness : then on Thel she fixed her 

humble eyes. 

" O beauty of the vales of Har ! we live not for 

ourselves. 
Thou seest me, the meanest thing, and so I am 

indeed. 

My bosom of itself is cold, and of itself is dark ; 
But He that loves the lowly pours his oil upon my 

head, 
And kisses me, and binds his nuptial bands around 

my breast, 
And says : * Thou mother of my children, I have 

loved thee, 



THE BOOK OF THEL. 197 

And I have given thee a crown that none can take 

away.' 
But how this is, sweet maid, I know not, and I 

cannot know ; 
I ponder, and I cannot ponder : yet I live and 

love ! " 

The Daughter of Beauty wiped her pitying tears 

with her white veil, 
And said : " Alas ! I knew not this, and therefore 

did I weep. 
That God would love a worm I knew, and punish 

the evil foot 
That wilful bruised its helpless form ; but that he 

cherished it 
With milk and oil I never knew, and therefore did 

I weep. 
And I complained in the mild air, because I fade 

away, 
And lay me down in thy cold bed, and leave my 

shining lot." 

" Queen of the vales," the matron Clay answered, 
" I heard thy sighs, 



i 9 8 BLAK&S POEMS. 

And all thy moans flew o'er my roof, but I have 

called them down. 
Wilt thou, O queen, enter my house ? 'Tis given 

thee to enter, 
And to return : fear nothing, enter with thy virgin 

feet." 

IV. 

The eternal gates' terrific Porter lifted the northern 

bar ; 
The! entered in, and saw the secrets of the land 

unknown. 
She saw the couches of the dead, and where the 

fibrous root 
Of every heart on earth infixes deep its restless 

twists : 
A land of sorrows and of tears, where never smile 

was seen. 

She wandered in the land of clouds, through valleys 

dark, listening 
Dolours and lamentations, wailing oft beside a 

dewy grave. 



THE BOOK OF THEL. 199 



She stood in silence, listening to the voices of the 

ground, 
Till to her own grave-plot she came, and there she 

sat down, 
And heard this voice of sorrow breathed from the 

hollow pit. 

u Why cannot the ear be closed to its own 

destruction? 

Or the glistening eye to the poison of a smile ? 
Why are eyelids stored with arrows ready 

drawn, 

Where a thousand fighting-men in ambush lie, 
Or an eye of gifts and graces showering fruits and 

coined gold ? 
Why a tongue impressed with honey from every 

wind? 
Why an ear, a whirlpool fierce to draw creations 

in? 
Why a nostril wide inhailing terror, trembling, and 

affright ? 
Why a tender curb upon the youthful burning 

boy? 



200 BtAKE*S POEMS. 

Why a little curtain of flesh on the bed of our 
desire ? " 

The Virgin started from her seat, and with a 

shriek 
Fled back unhindered till she came into the vales 

of Har. 




LATER POEMS. 



THE CRYSTAL CABINET. 

E maiden caught me in the wild, 
Where I was dancing merrily ; 
She put me into her cabinet, 
And locked me up with a golden key. 

This cabinet is formed of gold, 

And pearl and crystal shining bright, 

And within it opens into a world 
And a little lovely moony night. 

Another England there I saw, 
Another London with its Tower, 

Another Thames and other hills, 
And another pleasant Surrey bovver. 



202 BLAKE>S POEMS. 

Another maiden like herself, 

Translucent, lovely, shining clear, 

Threefold, each in the other closed 
Oh what a pleasant trembling fear ! 

Oh, what a smile ! A threefold smile 
Filled me that like a flame I burned ; 

I bent to kiss the lovely maid, 
And found a threefold kiss returned. 

I strove to seize the inmost form 
With ardour fierce and hands of flame, 

But burst the crystal cabinet, 
And like a weeping babe became : 

A weeping babe upon the wild, 
And weeping woman pale reclined, 

And in the outward air again 

I filled with woes the passing wind. 



SMILE AND FROWN. 203 



SMILE AND FROWN. 



is a smile of Love, 
And there is a smile of Deceit, 
And there is a smile of smiles 
In which these two smiles meet. 

And there is a frown of Hate, 
And there is a frown of Disdain, 

And there is a frown of frowns 
Which you strive to forget in vain, 

For it sticks in the heart's deep core 
And it sticks in the deep backbone. 

And no smile ever was smiled 
But only one smile alone 

(And 'tvvixt the cradle and grave 
It only once smiled can be), 

That when it once is smiled 
There's an end to all misery. 



204 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



THE LAND OF DREAMS. 

" A WAKE, awake, my little boy ! 

**' Thou wast thy mother's only joy. 
Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep ? 
Oh, wake 1 thy father doth thee keep." 

" Oh, what land is the land of dreams ? 

What are its mountains and what are its streams ? 

Oh, father ! I saw my mother there, 

Among the lilies by waters fair. 

" Among the lambs clothed in white, 

She walked with her Thomas in sweet delight. 

I wept for joy, like a dove I mourn 

Oh, when shall I again return ?" 

" Dear child ! I also by pleasant streams 
Have wandered all night in the land of dreams ; 
But, though calm and warm the waters wide, 
I could not get to the other side." 



MARY. 205 



" Father, O father ! what do we hear, 
In this land of unbelief and fear ? 
The land of dreams is better far, 
Above the light of the morning star." 



MARY. 

C WEET Mary, the first time she ever was there, 
^ Came into the ball-room among the fair ; 
The young men and maidens around her throng, 
And these are the words upon every tongue : 

" An angel is here from the heavenly climes, 
Or again return the golden times ; 
Her eyes outshine every brilliant ray, 
She opens her lips 'tis the month of May." 

Mary moves in soft beauty and conscious delight, 
To augment with sweet smiles all the joys of the 

night, 

Nor once blushes to own to the rest of the fair 
That sweet love and beauty are worthy our care. 



206 BLAKE >S POEMS. 

In the morning the villagers rose with delight, 
And repeated with pleasure the joys of the night, 
And Mary arose among friends to be free, 
But no friend from henceforward thou, Mary, shalt 
see. 

Some said she was proud, some called her a whore, 
And some when she passed by shut-to the door ; 
A damp cold came o'er her, her blushes all fled, 
Her lilies and roses are blighted and shed. 

" Oh, why was I born with a different face ? 
Why was I not born like this envious race ? 
Why did Heaven adorn me with bountiful hand, 
And then set me down in an envious land ? 

" To be weak as a lamb and smooth as a dove, 
And not to raise envy, is called Christian love ; 
But, if you raise envy, your merit's to blame 
For planting such spite in the weak and the tame. 

" I will humble my beauty, I will not dress fine, 
I will keep from the ball, and my eyes shall not 
shine ; 



MARY. 207 

And, if any girl's lover forsake her for me, 

I'll refuse him my hand, and from envy be free." 

She went out in the morning attired plain and neat; 
"Proud Mary's gone mad," said the child in the 

street ; 

She went out in the morning in plain neat attire, 
And came home in the evening bespattered with 

mire. 

She trembled and wept, sitting on the bedside, 
She forgot it was night, and she trembled and cried ; 
She forgot it was night, she forgot it was morn, 
Her soft memory imprinted with faces of scorn ; 

With faces of scorn and with eyes of disdain, 
Like foul fiends inhabiting Mary's mild brain ; 
She remembers no face like the human divine ; 
All faces have envy, sweet Mary, but thine. 

And thine is a face of sweet love in despair, 
And thine is a face of mild sorrow and care, 
And thine is a face of wild terror and fear 
That shall never be quiet till laid on its bier. 



208 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE. 

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. 

A Robin Redbreast in a cage 

Puts all heaven in a rage ; 

A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons 

Shudders hell through all its regions. 

A dog starved at his master's gate 

Predicts the ruin of the state ; 

A game-cock clipped and armed for fight 

Doth the rising sun affright ; 

A horse misused upon the road 

Calls to Heaven for human blood. 

Every wolfs and lion's howl 

Raises from hell a human soul ; 

Each outcry of the hunted hare 

A fibre from the brain doth tear ; 

A skylark wounded on the wing 

Doth make a cherub cease to sing. 



AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE. 209 

He who shall hurt the little wren 
Shall never be beloved by men ; 
He who the ox to wrath has moved 
Shall never be by woman loved ; 
He who shall train the horse to war 
Shall never pass the Polar Bar. 
The wanton boy that kills the fly 
Shall feel the spider's enmity ; 
He who torments the chafer's sprite 
Weaves a bower in endless night. 
The caterpillar on the leaf 
Repeats to thee thy mother's grief; 
The wild deer wandering here and there 
Keep the human soul from care : 
The lamb misused breeds public strife, 
And yet forgives the butcher's knife. 
Kill not the moth nor butterfly, 
For the last judgment draweth nigh ; 
The beggar's dog and widow's cat, 
Feed them and thou shalt grow fat. 
Every tear from every eye 
Becomes a babe in eternity ; 
The bleat, the bark, bellow and roar, 
Are waves that beat on Heaven's shore. 
o 



210 BLAK&S POEMS. 

The bat that flits at close of eve 

Has left the brain that won't believe ; 

The owl that calls upon the night 

Speaks the unbeliever's fright. 

The gnat that sings his summer's song 

Poison gets from Slander's tongue ; 

The poison of the snake and newt 

Is the sweat of Envy's foot ; 

The poison of the honey-bee 

Is the artist's jealousy ; 

The strongest poison ever known 

Came from Caesar's laurel-crown. 

Nought can deform the human race 
Like to the armourer's iron brace ; 
The soldier armed with sword and gun 
Palsied strikes the summer's sun. 
When gold and gems adorn the plough, 
To peaceful arts shall Envy bow. 
The beggar's rags fluttering in air 
Do to rags the heavens tear ; 
The prince's robes and beggar's rags 
Are toadstools on the miser's bags, 



A UG URIES OF IN NO CENCE. 2 1 1 

One mite wrung from the labourer's hands 
Shall buy and sell the miser's lands, 
Or, if protected from on high, 
Shall that whole nation sell and buy ; 
The poor man's farthing is worth more 
Then all the gold on Afric's shore. 
The whore and gambler, by the state 
Licensed, build that nation's fate ; 
The harlot's cry from street to street 
Shall weave Old England's winding-sheet ; 
The winners shout, the loser's curse, 
Shall dance before dead England's hearse. 

He who mocks the infant's faith 
Shall be mocked in age and death ; 
He who shall teach the child to doubt 
The rotten grave shall ne'er get out ; 
He who respects the infant's faith 
Triumphs over hell and death. 
The babe is more than swaddling-bands 
Throughout all these human lands ; 
Tools were made, and born were hands, 
Every farmer understands. 



BLAKE'S POEMS. 



The questioner who sits so sly 

Shall never know how to reply. 

He who replies to words of doubt 

Doth put the light of knowledge out ; 

A puddle, or the cricket's cry, 

Is to doubt a fit reply. 

The child's toys and the old man's reasons 

Are the fruits of the two seasons. 

The emmet's inch and eagle's mile 

Make lame philosophy to smile. 

A truth that's told with bad intent 

Beats all the lies you can invent. 

He who doubts from what he sees 

Will ne'er believe, do what you please ; 

If the sun and moon should doubt, 

They'd immediately go out. 

Every night and every morn 
Some to misery are born ; 
Every morn and every night 
Some are born to sweet delight ; 
Some are born to sweet delight, 
Some are born to endless night. 



A UG URIES OF INNOCENCE. 2 1 3 

Joy and woe are woven fine, 
A clothing for the soul divine ; 
Under every grief and pine 
Runs a joy with silken twine. 
It is right it should be so ; 
Man was made for joy and woe ; 
And, when this we rightly know, 
Safely through the world we go. 

We are led to believe a lie 

When we see with not through the eye, 

Which was born in a night to perish in a nigh' 

When the soul slept in beams of light. 

God appears and God is light 

To those poor souls who dwell in night : 

But doth a human form display 

To those who dwell in realms of day. 




2i 4 B LAKE'S POEMS. 



THE MENTAL TRAVELLER. 

T TRAVELLED through a land of men 
* A land of men and women too ; 
And heard and saw such dreadful things 
As cold earth-wanderers never knew. 

For there the babe is born in joy 
That was begotten in dire woe ; 

Just as we reap in joy the fruit 
Which we in bitter tears did sow. 

And, if the babe is born a boy, 

He's given to a woman old, 
Who nails him down upon a rock, 

Catches his shrieks in cups of gold. 

She binds iron thorns around his head 
She pierces both his hands and feet, 

She cuts his heart out at his side, 
To make it feel both cold and heat. 



THE MENTAL TRAVELLER. 215 

Her fingers number every nerve 

Just as a miser counts his gold ; 
She lives upon his shrieks and cries, 

And she grows young as he grows old. 

Till he becomes a bleeding youth, 
And she becomes a virgin bright ; 

Then he rends up his manacles, 
And binds her down for his delight. 

He plants himself in all her nerves 
Just as a husbandman his mould, 

And she becomes his dwelling-place 
And garden fruitful seventyfold. 

An aged shadow soon he fades, 

Wandering round an earthly cot, 
Full-filled all with gems and gold 

Which he by industry had got. 

And these are the gems of the human soul, 
The rubies and pearls of a lovesick eye, 

The countless gold of the aching heart, 
The martyr's groan and the lover's sigh. 



216 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

They are his meat, they are his drink ; 

He feeds the beggar and the poor ; 
To the wayfaring traveller 

For ever open is his door. 

His grief is their eternal joy, 

They make the roofs and walls to ring ; 
Till from the fire upon the hearth 

A little female babe doth spring. 

And she is all of solid fire 

And gems and gold, that none his hand 
Dares stretch to touch her baby form, 

Or wrap her in his swaddling-band. 

But she comes to the man she loves, 
If young or old or rich or poor ; 

They soon drive out the aged host, 
A beggar at another's door. 

He wanders weeping far away, 
Until some other take him in ; 

Oft blind and age-bent, sore distressed, 
Until he can a maiden win. 



THE MENTAL TRAVELLER. 217 

And, to allay his freezing age, 

The poor man takes her in his arms ; 

The cottage fades before his sight, 
The garden and its lovely charms. 

The guests are scattered through the land ; 

For the eye altering alters all ; 
The senses roll themselves in fear, 

And the flat earth becomes a ball. 

The stars, sun, moon, all shrink away, 

A desert vast without a bound, 
And nothing left to eat or drink, 

And a dark desert all around. 

The honey of her infant lips, 

The bread and wine of her sweet smile, 
The wild game of her roving eye, 

Do him to infancy beguile. 

For as he eats and drinks he grows 

Younger and younger every day, 
And on the desert wild they both 

Wander in terror and dismay. 



218 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Like the wild stag she flees away ; 

Her fear plants many a thicket wild, 
While he pursues her night and day, 

By various arts of love beguiled ; 

By various arts of love and hate, 
Till the wild desert's planted o'er 

With labyrinths of wayward love, 
Where roam the lion, wolf, and boar. 

Till he becomes a wayward babe, 
And she a weeping woman old ; 

Then many a lover wanders here, 
The sun and stars are nearer rolled ; 

The trees bring forth sweet ecstasy 
To all who in the desert roam ; 

Till many a city there is built, 
And many a pleasant shepherd's home. 

But, when they find the frowning babe, 
Terror strikes through the region wide : 

They cry" The babe the babe is born ! " 
And flee away on every side. 



WILLIAM BOND. 219 

For who dare touch the frowning form, 

His arm is withered to its root : 
Bears, lions, wolves, all howling flee, 

And every tree doth shed its fruit. 

And none can touch that frowning form 

Except it be a woman old ; 
She nails him down upon the rock, 

And all is done as I have told. 



WILLIAM BOND. 

I WONDER whether the girls are mad, 
And I wonder whether they mean to kill, 
And I wonder if William Bond will die, 
For assuredly he is very ill. 

He went to church on a May morning, 
Attended by fairies one, two, and three ; 

But the angels of Providence drove them away, 
And he returned home in misery. 



BLAKE^S POEMS. 



He went not out to the field nor fold, 
He went not out to the village nor town, 

But he came home in a black, black cloud, 
And took to his bed, and there lay down. 

And an angel of Providence at his feet, 
And an angel of Providence at his head, 

And in the midst a black, black cloud, 
And in the midst the sick man on his bed. 

And on his right hand was Mary Green, 
And on his left hand was his sister Jane, 

And their tears fell through the black, black cloud 
To drive away the sick man's pain. 

" Oh, William if thou dost another love, 
Dost another love better than poor Mary, 

Go and take that other to be thy wife, 
And Mary Green shall her servant be." 

" Yes, Mary, I do another love, 

Another I love far better than thee, 
And another I will have for my wife : 

Then what have I to do with thee ? 



WILLIAM BOND. 221 



" For thou art melancholy pale, 

And on thy head is the cold moon's shine, 
But she is ruddy and bright as day, 

And the sunbeams dazzle from her eyne." 

Mary trembled, and Mary chilled, 

And Mary fell down on the right-hand floor, 
That William Bond and his sister Jane 

Scarce could recover Mary more. 

When Mary woke and found her laid 
On the right hand of her William dear, 

On the right hand of his loved bed. 
And saw her William Bond so near ; 

The fairies that fled from William Bond 
Danced around her shining head ; 

They danced over the pillow white, 
And the angels of Providence left the bed. 

" I thought Love lived in the hot sunshine, 
But, oh, he lives in the moony light ! 

I thought to find Love in the heat of day, 
But sweet Love is the comforter of night. 



BLAK&S POEMS. 



" Seek Love in the pity of others' woe, 
In the gentle relief of another's care, 

In the darkness of night and the winter's snow, 
With the naked and outcast seek Love there." 



THE GOLDEN NET. 

TJENEATH a white-thorn's lovely may, 

*~* Three virgins at the break of day. 

"Whither, young man, whither away? 

Alas for woe ! alas for woe ! " 

They cry, and tears for ever flow. 

The first was clothed in flames of fire, 

The second clothed in iron wire ; 

The third was clothed in tears and sighs, 

Dazzling bright before my eyes. 

They bore a net of golden twine 

To hang upon the branches fine. 

Pitying, I wept to see the woe 

That love and beauty undergo 



THE GOLDEN NET. 223 

To be clothed in burning fires 

And in ungratified desires, 

And in tears clothed night and day ; 

It melted all my soul away. 

When they saw my tears, a smile 

That might heaven itself beguile 

Bore the golden net aloft, 

As on downy pinions soft, 

Over the morning of my day. 

Underneath the net I stray, 

Now entreating Flaming-fire, 

Now entreating Iron-wire, 

Now entreating tears-and-sighs. 

Oh, when will the morning rise ? 



THE GREY MONK. 

" T SEE, I see," the Mother said, 

* " My children die for lack of bread ! 
What more has the merciless tyrant said ? " 
The Monk sat him down on her stony bed. 



224 BLAK&S POEMS. 

The blood red ran from the Grey Monk's side, 
His hands and feet were wounded wide, 
His body bent, his arms and knees 
Like to the roots of ancient trees. 

His eye was dry, no tear could flow, 

A hollow groan bespoke his woe ; 

He trembled and shuddered upon the bed ; 

At length with a feeble cry he said : 

" When God commanded this hand to write 
In the shadowy hours of deep midnight, 
He told me that all I wrote should prove 
The bane of all that on earth I love. 

" My brother starved between two walls, 
His children's cry my soul appals 
I mocked at the rack and the grinding chain 
My bent body mocks at their torturing pain. 

" Thy father drew his sword in the north, 
With his thousands strong he is marched forth. 
Thy brother hath armed himself in steel, 
To revenge the wrongs thy children feel. 



THE GREY MONK. 225 

" But vain the sword, and vain the bow 
They never can work war's overthrow ; 
The hermit's prayer and the widow's 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 a martyr's woe 
Is an arrow from the Almighty's bow." 

The hand of vengeance found the bed 
To which the purple tyrant fled ; 
The iron hand crushed the tyrant's head, 
And became a tyrant in his stead. 



THE TIGER. 
(SECOND VERSION.) 

, Tiger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Framed thy fearful symmetry ? 



226 BLAK&S POEMS. 

In what distant deeps or skies 
Burned that fire within thine eyes ? 
On what wings dared he aspire ? 
What the hand dared seize the fire ? 

And what shoulder and what art 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart ? 
When thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand formed thy dread feet ? 

What the hammer, what the chain, 
Knit thy strength and forged thy brain ? 
What the anvil 1 What dread grasp 
Dared thy deadly terrors clasp ? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 
And watered heaven with their tears, 
Did He smile his work to see ? 
Did He who made the lamb make thee ? 



THE GATES OF PARADISE. 227 



THE GATES OF PARADISE. 

TV/T UTUAL forgiveness of each vice, 
*** Such are the Gates of Paradise, 
Against the Accuser's chief desire, 
Who walked among the stones of fire. 
Jehovah's ringers wrote the Law : 
He wept ; then rose in zeal and awe, 
And, in the midst of Sinai's heat, 
Hid it beneath His Mercy-Seat. 

O Christians ! Christians ! tell me why 
You rear it on your altars high ! 

THE KEYS OF THE GATES. 

THE caterpillar on the leaf 
Reminds thee of thy mother's grief. 
My Eternal Man set in repose, 
The Female from his darkness rose ; 
And she found me beneath a tree, 
A mandrake, and in her veil hid me. 
Serpent reasonings us entice 
Of good and evil, virtue, vice. 



228 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



Doubt self-jealous, watery folly, 
Struggling through Earth's melancholy, 
Naked in air, in shame, and fear, 
Blind in fire, with shield and spear, 
Two horrid reasoning cloven fictions, 
In doubt which is self-contradiction, 
A dark hermaphrodite I stood 
Rational truth, root of evil and good, 
Round me, flew the flaming sword ; 
Round her, snowy whirlwinds roared, 
Freezing her veil, the mundane shell. 
I rent the veil where the dead dwell : 
When weary man enters his cave, 
He meets his Saviour in the grave. 
Some find a female garment there, 
And some a male, woven with care, 
Lest the sexual garments sweet 
Should grow a devouring winding-sheet. 
One dies ! alas ! the living and dead ! 
One is slain, and one is fled ! 
In vain-glory hatched and nursed, 
By double spectres, self-accursed. 
My son ! my son ! thou treatest me 



THE GATES OF PARADISE. 229 

But as I have instructed thee. 

On the shadows of the moon, 

Climbing through night's highest noon : 

In Time's ocean falling, drowned : 

In aged ignorance profound, 

Holy and cold, I clipped the wings 

Of all sublunary things : 

And in depths of icy dungeons 

Closed the father and the sons. 

But, when once I did descry 

The Immortal Man that cannot die, 

Through evening shades I haste away 

To close the labours of my day. 

The door of Death I open found, 

And the worm weaving in the ground : 

Thou'rt my mother, from the womb ; 

Wife, sister, daughter, to the tomb : 

Weaving to dreams the sexual strife, 

And weeping over the web of life. 



230 BLAK&S POEMS. 



THE BIRDS. 

HE. 
T X rHERE thou dwellest, in what grove, 

* * Tell me, fair one, tell me, love ; 
Where thou thy charming nest dost build, 
O thou pride of every field ! 

SHE. 

Yonder stands a lonely tree : 
There I live and mourn for thee. 
Morning drinks my silent tear, 
And evening winds my sorrow bear. 

HE. 

thou summer's harmony, 

1 have lived and mourned for thee ; 
Each day I moan along the wood, 
And night hath heard my sorrows loud. 

SHE. 

Dost thou truly long for me ? 
And am I thus sweet to thee ? 
Sorrow now is at an end, 
O my lover and my friend ! 






BLAIR 'S " GRA VE 231 

HE. 

Come ! on wings of joy we'll fly 
To where my bower is hung on high ; 
Come, and make thy calm retreat 
Among green leaves and blossoms sweet. 



DEDICATION OF THE DESIGNS TO 
BLAIR'S "GRAVE." 

To QUEEN CHARLOTTE. 

r "pHE door of Death is made of gold, 
* That mortal eyes cannot behold : 
But, when the mortal eyes are closed, 
And cold and pale the limbs reposed, 
The soul awakes, and, wondering, sees 
In her mild hand the golden keys. 
The grave is heaven's golden gate, 
And rich and poor around it wait : 
O Shepherdess of England's fold, 
Behold this gate of pearl and gold ! 



232 ' BLAKE'S POEMS. 

To dedicate to England's Queen 
The visions that my soul has seen, 
And by her kind permission bring 
What I have borne on solemn wing 
From the vast regions of the grave. 
Before her throne my wings I wave, 
Bowing before my sovereign's feet. 
The Grave produced these blossoms sweet, 
In mild repose from earthly strife ; 
The blossoms of eternal life. 



BROKEN LOVE. 

TV/IT Y Spectre around me night and day 
Like a wild beast guards my way ; 
My Emanation far within 
Weeps incessantly for my sin. 

A fathomless and boundless deep, 
There we wander, there we weep ; 
On the hungry craving wind 
My Spectre follows thee behind. 



BROKEN LO VE. 233 

He scents thy footsteps in the snow, 
Wheresoever thou dost go ; 
Through the wintry hail and rain 
When wilt thou return again ? 

Poor, pale, pitiable form, 
That I follow in a storm, 
From sin I never shall be free 
Till thou forgive and come to me. 

A deep winter, dark and cold, 
Within my heart thou dost unfold ; 
Iron tears and groans of lead 
Thou bind'st around my aching head. 

Dost thou not in pride and scorn 
Fill with tempests all my morn, 
And with jealousies and fears ? 
And fill my pleasant nights with tears ? 

O'er my sins thou dost sit and moan : 
Hast thou no sins of thine own? 
O'er my sins thou dost sit and weep, 
And lull thine own sins fast asleep. 



234 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Thy weeping thou shalt ne'er give o'er ; 
I sin against thee more and more, 
And never will from sin be free 
Till thou forgive and come to me. 

What transgressions I commit 
Are for thy transgressions fit 
They, thy harlots, thou their slave; 
And my bed becomes their grave. 

Seven of my sweet loves thy knife 
Hath bereaved of their life : 
Their marble tombs I built with tears 
And with cold and shadowy fears. 

Seven more loves weep night and day 
Round the tombs where my loves lay, 
And seven more loves attend at night 
Around my couch with torches bright. 

And seven more loves in my bed 
Crown with vine my mournful head ; 
Pitying and forgiving all 
Thy transgressions, great and small. 



YOUNG LOVE. 235 

When wilt thou return, and view 

- My loves, and them in life renew I 

When wilt thou return and live ? 

When wilt thou pity as I forgive ? 

Throughout all eternity 

I forgive you, you forgive me. 

As our dear Redeemer said : 

" This the wine, and this the bread." 



YOUNG LOVE. 

A RE not the joys of morning sweeter 
-"- Than the joys of night ? 
And are the vigorous joys of youth 
Ashamed of the light ? 

Let age and sickness silent rob 

The vineyard in the night ; 
But those who burn with vigorous youth 

Pluck fruits before the light. 



236 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



THE TWO SONGS. 

T HEARD an Angel singing 
A When the day was springing : 
" Mercy, pity, and peace, 
Are the world's release." 

So he sang all day 
Over the new-mown hay, 
Till the sun went down, 
And haycocks looked brown. 

I heard a devil curse 
Over the heath and the furse : 
" Mercy could be no more 
If there were nobody poor, 
And pity no more could be 
If all were happy as ye : 
And mutual fear brings peace. 
Misery's increase 
Are mercy, pity, peace." 

At his curse the sun went down, 
And the heavens gave a frown. 



RICHES. 237 



RICHES. 

OINCE all the riches of this world 
^ May be gifts from the devil and earthly kings, 
I should suspect that I worshipped the devil 
If I thanked my God for worldly things. 

The countless gold of a merry heart, 
The rubies and pearls of a loving eye, 

The idle man never can bring to the mart, 
Nor the cunning hoard up in his treasury. 



CUPID. 

H Y was Cupid a boy ? 

And why a boy was he ? 
He should have been a girl, 
For aught that I can see. 

For he shoots with his bow, 

And the girl shoots with her eye ; 

And they both are merry and glad, 
And laugh when we do cry. 



238 BLAKE^S POEMS. 

Then to make Cupid a boy 
Was surely a woman's plan, 

For a boy never learns so much 
Till he has become a man. 

And then he's so pierced with cares, 
And wounded with arrowy smarts, 

That the whole business of his life 
Is to pick out the heads of the darts. 



LOVE'S SECRET. 

j^TEVER seek to tell thy love, 
* Love that never told can be ; 
For the gentle wind doth move 
Silently, invisibly. 

I told my love, I told my love, 

I told her all my heart, 
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears. 

Ah ! she did depart ! 



THE WILD FLOWERS SONG. 239 

Soon after she was gone from me, 

A traveller came by, 
Silently, invisibly : 

He took her with a sigh. 



THE WILD FLOWER'S SONG. 

A S I wandered in the forest 
** The green leaves among, 
I heard a wild-flower 
Singing a song. 

" I slept in the earth 

In the silent night ; 
I murmured my thoughts, 

And I felt delight. 

" In the morning I went, 

As rosy as morn, 
To seek for new joy, 

But I met with scorn." 



240 BLAK&S POEMS. 



OPPORTUNITY. 

T T E who bends to himself a joy 
A -* Does the winged life destroy ; 
But he who kisses the joy as it flies 
Lives in eternity's sunrise. 

If you trap the moment before it's ripe, 
The tears of repentance you'll certainly wipe . 
But, if once you let the ripe moment go, 
You can never wipe off the tears of woe. 



SEED-SOWING. 



hast a lapful of seed, 
And this is a fair country. 
Why dost thou not cast thy seed, 
And live in it merrily ? " 

" Shall I cast it on the sand, 

And turn it into fruitful land ? 

For on no other ground can I sow my seed 

Without tearing up some stinking weed." 



BARREN BL OSSOM. 24 1 

BARREN BLOSSOM. 

T FEARED the fury of my wind 
* Would blight all blossoms fair and true 
And my sun it shined and shined, 
And my wind it never blew. 

But a blossom fair or true 

Was not found on any tree ; 
For all blossoms grew and grew 

Fruitless, false, though fair to see. 



NIGHT AND DAY. 

ILENT, silent Night, 

Quench the holy light 
Of thy torches bright ; 

For, possessed of Day, 
Thousand spirits stray 
That sweet joys betray. 
Q 



242 BLAKE*S POEMS. 

Why should joys be sweet 

Used with deceit, 

Nor with sorrows meet ? 

But an honest joy 
Doth itself destroy 
For a harlot coy. 



IN A MYRTLE SHADE, 

TO a lovely myrtle bound, 
Blossoms showering all around. 
Oh, how weak and weary I 
Underneath my myrtle lie ! 

Why should I be bound to thee, 
O my lovely myrtle-tree "? 
Love, free love, cannot be bound 
To any tree that grows on ground. 




PROSE EXTRACTS. 

The following extracts are from Blake's Illustrated 
Catalogue of Pictures. (Pub. 1809.) 



CHAUCER'S CANTERBURY PILGRIMS. 

E time chosen is early morning before sun- 
L rise, when the jolly company are just quitting 
the Tabarde Inn. The Knight and Squire, with the 
squire's yeomen, lead the procession ; next follow 
the youthful Abbess, her Nun, and three Priests. 
Her greyhounds attend her ; 

" Of small hounds had she that she fed 
With roast flesh, milk, and wasted bread." 

Next follow the Friar and Monk, then the Tapiser, 
the Pardoner, and the Sompnour and Manciple. 
After these " Our Host," who occupies the centre of 
the cavalcade, directs them to the Knight as the 
person who would be likely to commence their 
task of each telling a tale in their order. After 
the Host follow the Shipman, the Haberdasher, 
the Dyer, the Franklin, the Physician, the Plough- 
man, the Lawyer, the poor Parson, the Merchant, 



244 BLAKE S POEMS. 

the Wife of Bath, the Miller, the Cook, the Oxford 
Scholar, Chaucer himself; and the Reeve comes 
as Chaucer has described ; 

" And ever he rode hinderest of the rout." 

These last are issuing from the gateway of 
the inn ; the Cook and the Wife of Bath are 
both taking their morning's draught of comfort. 
Spectators stand at the gateway of the inn, and 
are composed of an old man, a woman, and 
children. The landscape is an eastward view of 
the country from the Tabarde Inn, in South wark, 
as it may be supposed to have appeared in 
Chaucer s time ; interspersed with cottages and 
villages. The first beams of the sun are seen 
above the horizon ; some buildings and spires 
indicate the situation of the Great City. The inn 
is a Gothic building, which Thynne, in his glossary, 
says was the lodging of the Abbot of Hyde, by 
Winchester. On the inn is inscribed its title, and 
a proper advantage is taken of this circumstance to 
describe the subject of the picture. The words 
written over the gateway of the inn are as follows 
"The Tabarde Inn, by Henry Baillie, the 
lodgynge-house for Pilgrims who journey to St. 
Thomas' Shrine at Canterbury." The characters 
of Chaucer's Pilgrims are the characters which 
compose all ages and nations. As one age falls 
another rises, different to mortal sight, but to 
immortals only the same ; for we see the same 
characters repeated again and again, in animals, 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 245 



vegetables, and minerals, and in men. Nothing 
new occurs in identical existence ; accident ever 
varies, substance can never suffer change or decay. 
Of Chaucer's characters, as described in his 
44 Canterbury Tales," some of the names or titles 
are altered by time, but the characters themselves 
for ever remain unaltered ; and, consequently, they 
are the physiognomies or lineaments of universal 
human life, beyond which nature never steps. 
Names alter, things never alter. I have known 
multitudes of those who would have been monks in 
the age of monkery, who in this deistical age are 
Deists. As Newton numbered the stars, and as 
Linnaeus numbered the plants, so Chaucer num- 
bered the classes of men. The painter has con- 
sequently varied the heads and forms of his 
personages into all nature's varieties ; the horses he 
has also varied to accord to their riders ; the 
costume is correct according to authentic monu- 
ments. The Knight and Squire, with the Squire's 
yeomen, lead the procession, as Chaucer has also 
placed them first in his prologue. The Knight is a 
true hero, a good, great, and wise man. His whole 
length portrait on horse-back, as written by 
Chaucer, cannot be surpassed. He has spent his 
life in the field, has ever been a conqueror, and is 
that species of character which in every age stands 
as the guardian of man against the oppressor. 
His son is like him, with the germ of perhaps 
greater perfection still, as he blends literature and 
the arts with his warlike studies. 



246 BLAK&S POEMS. 



Their dress and their horses are of the first rate, 
without ostentation, and with all the true grandeur 
that unaffected simplicity, when in high rank, 
always displays. The Squire's Yeoman is also a 
great character, a man perfectly knowing in his 
profession. 

"And in his hand lie bare a mighty bow." 

Chaucer describes here a mighty man, one who in 
war is the worthy attendant on noble heroes. The 
Prioress follows these with her female chaplain 

" Another nonne also with her had she, 
That was her chaplain, and priestes three." 

This lady is described also as of the first rank, rich 
and honoured ; she has certain peculiarities and 
little delicate affectations, not unbecoming in her, 
being accompanied with what is truly grand and 
really polite. Her person and face Chaucer has 
described with minuteness. It is very elegant, and 
was the beauty of our ancestors till after Elizabeth's 
time, when voluptuousness and folly began to be 
accounted beautiful. Her companion and her 
three priests were no doubt all perfectly delineated 
in those parts of Chaucer's work which are now 
lost ; we ought to suppose them suitable attendants 
on rank and fashion. The Monk follows these 
with the Friar. The painter has also grouped with 
these the Pardoner, and the Sompnour, and the 
Manciple, and has here also introduced one of the 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 247 



rich citizens of London characters likely to ride 
in company, all being above the common rank in 
life or attendants on those who were so. For the 
Monk is described by Chaucer as a man of the 
first rank in society, noble, rich, and expensively 
attended ; he is a leader of the age, with certain 
humorous accompaniments in his character, that 
do not degrade, but render him an object of 
dignified mirth, but also with other accompani- 
ments not so respectable. The Friar is a character 
also of a mixed kind. 

" A friar there was, a wanton and a merry." 

But in his office he is said to be a "full solemn 
man," eloquent, amorous, witty, and satirical ; 
young, handsome, and rich ; he is a complete 
rogue, with constitutional gaiety enough to make 
him a master of all pleasures of the world 

" His neck was white as the flowerdelis, 
Thereto strong he was a champioun." 

It is necessary here to speak of Chaucer's own 
character, that I may set certain mistaken critics 
right in their conception of the humour and fun 
that occur on the journey. Chaucer is himself the 
great poetical observer of men, who in every age is 
born to record and eternise its acts. This he does 
as a master, as a father and superior, who looks 
down on their little follies, from the Emperor to 
the Miller, sometimes with severity, oftener with 



248 BLAK&S POEMS. 



joke and sport. Accordingly Chaucer has made 
his Monk a great tragedian, one who studied 
poetical art. So much so, that the generous 
Knight is, in the compassionate dictates of his 
soul, compelled to cry out 

" ' Ho,' quoth the Knight ' good sir, no more of this, 
That ye have said is right ynough, I wis. 
And mokell more for little heaviness 
Is right enough for much folk, as I guess. 
I say, for me, it is a great disease, 
Whereas men have been in wealth and ease, 
To heare of their sudden fall, alas ! 
And the contrary is joy and solas.' " 

The Monk's definition of tragedy in the proem 
to his tale is worth repeating 

" Tragedy is to tell a certain story, 
As olde books us niaken memory, 
Of him that stood in great prosperity, 
And be fallen out of high degree 
Into misery and ended wretchedly ! " 

Though a man of luxury, pride, and pleasure, 
he is a master of art and learning, though affecting 
to despise it. Those who think that to the proud 
Huntsman and noble Housekeeper Chaucer's 
Monk is intended for a buffoon or burlesque 
character, know little of Chaucer. For the Host 
who follows this group and holds the centre of 
the cavalcade is a first-rate character, and his jokes 
are no trifles ; they are always, though uttered with 
audacity, equally free with the Lord and Peasant, 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 249 



they are always substantially and weightily ex- 
pressive of knowledge and experience. Henry 
Baillie, the keeper of the greatest inn of the 
greatest city for such was the Tabarde Inn in 
Southwark, near London our host, was also a 
leader of the age. By way of illustration, I instance 
Shakespeare's witches in " Macbeth." Those who 
dress them for the stage consider them as wretched 
old women, and not as Shakespeare intended, the 
Goddesses of Destiny. This shows how much 
Chaucer has been misunderstood in his sublime 
work. Shakespeare's fairies also are the rulers of 
the vegetable world, and so are Chaucer's. Let 
them be so considered, and then the poet will be 
understood, and not else. But I have omitted to 
speak of a very prominent character, the Par- 
doner the Age's Knave who always commands 
and domineers over the high and low vulgar. 
This man is sent in every age for a rod and scourge, 
and for a blight, for a trial of men, to divide the 
classes of men ; he is in the most holy sanctuary, 
and he is suffered by Providence for wise ends, 
and has also his use, and grand leading destiny. 

His companion, the Sompnour, is also a devil 
of the first magnitude grand, terrific, rich, and 
honoured in the rank of which he holds the destiny. 
The uses to society are perhaps equal of the Devli 
and of the Angel ; their sublimity who can dispute? 

" In daunger had he at his owne gise, 
The younge girles of his diocese, 
And he knew well their counsel," etc. 



250 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



The principal figure in the next group is the Good 
Parson an Apostle, a real Messenger of Heaven, 
sent in every age for its light and its warmth. 
This man is beloved and venerated by all, and 
neglected by all : he serves all, and is served by 
none. He is, according to Christ's definition, the 
greatest of his age ; yet he is a Poor Parson of a 
town. Read Chaucer's description of the Good 
Parson, and bow the head and knee to Him who, 
in every age, sends us such a burning and a shining 
light. Search, O ye rich and powerful, for these 
men, and obey their counsel ; then shall the 
Golden Age return. But alas ! you will not easily 
distinguish him from the Friar or the Pardoner ; 
they also are "full solemn men," and their counsel 
you will continue to follow. I have placed by his 
side the Sergeant-at-Lawe, who appears delighted 
to ride in his company, and between him and his 
brother the Ploughman, as I wish men of law would 
always ride with them and take their counsel, 
especially in all difficult points. Chaucer's Lawyer 
is a character of great venerableness a judge, and 
a real master of the jurisprudence of his age. The 
Doctor of Physic is in this group, and the Frank- 
lin, the voluptuous country gentleman, contrasted 
with the Physician ; and, on his other hand, the 
two Citizens of London. Chaucer's characters live 
age after age. Every age is a Canterbury Pilgrim- 
age ; we all pass on, each sustaining one or other 
of these characters ; nor can a child be born who 
is not one of these characters of Chaucer. The 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 251 



Doctor of Physic is described as the first of his 
profession perfect, learned, completely Master and 
Doctor in his art. Thus the reader will observe 
that Chaucer makes every one of his characters 
perfect in his kind ; every one is an Antique 
Statue, the image of a class, and not an imperfect 
individual. This group also would furnish substan- 
tial matter, on which volumes might be written. 
The Franklin is one who keeps open table, who is 
the genius of eating and drinking the Bacchus ; 
as the Doctor of Physic is the ^Esculapius, the 
Host is the Silenus, the Squire is the Apollo, the 
Miller is Hercules, etc. Chaucer's characters are 
a description of the eternal principles that exist in 
all ages. The Franklin is voluptuousness itself 
most nobly portrayed. 

" It snowed in his house of meat and drink." 

The Ploughman is simplicity itself, with wisdom 
and strength for its stamina. Chaucer has divided 
the ancient character of Hercules between his 
Miller and his Ploughman. Benevolence is the 
Ploughman's great characteristic ; he is thin with 
excessive labour, and not with old age as some 
have supposed 

"He woulde thresh and thereto dike and delve, 
For Christe's sake, for every poore wight, 
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might." 

Visions of these eternal principles or characters 
of human life appear to poets in all ages. The 
Grecian gods were the ancient Cherubim of 



252 BLAKE'S POEMS. 

Phoenicia ; but the Greeks, and since them the 
Moderns, have neglected to subdue the gods of 
Priam. These gods are visions of the eternal 
attributes, or divine names, which, when erected 
into gods, become destructive to humanity. They 
ought to be the servants, and not the masters, of man 
or of society. They ought to be made to sacrifice 
to man, and not man compelled to sacrifice to 
them ; for, when separated from man or humanity, 
who is Jesus the Saviour, the vine of eternity? 
They are thieves and rebels, they are destroyers. 
The Ploughman of Chaucer is Hercules in his 
supreme eternal state, divested of his spectrous 
shadow, which is the Miller, a terrible fellow, such 
as exists in all times and places, for the trial of 
men, to astonish every neighbourhood with brutal 
strength and courage, to get rich and powerful, to 
curb the pride of man. The Reeve and the Man- 
ciple are two characters of the most consummate 
worldly wisdom. The Shipman or Sailor is a 
similar genius of Ulyssean art, but with the highest 
courage superadded. The Citizens and their Cook 
are each leaders of a class. Chaucer has been 
somehow made to number four citizens, which 
would make his whole company, himself included, 
thirty-one. But he says there were but nine-and- 
twenty in his company 

"Full nine -and -twenty in a company." 
The Webbe, or Weaver, and the Tapiser, or 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 253 



Tapestry Weaver, appear to me to be the same 
person ; but this is only an opinion, for full nine- 
and-tvventy may signify one more or less. But I 
dare say Chaucer wrote " A Webbe Dyer," that is, 
a Cloth Dyer 

"A Webbe Dyer and a Tapiser." 

The merchant cannot be one of the Three Citizens, 
as his dress is different, and his character is 
more marked, whereas, Chaucer says of his rich 
citizens : 

" All were yclothed in o liverie." 

The character of woman Chaucer has divided 
into two classes the Lady Prioress and the 
Wife of Bath. Are not these leaders of the ages 
of men? The Lady Prioress in some ages pre- 
dominates, and in some the Wife of Bath, in whose 
character Chaucer has been equally minute and 
exact, because she is also a scourge and a blight. 
I shall say no more of her, nor expose what 
Chancer has left hidden ; let the young reader 
study what he has said of her it is useful as a 
scarecrow. There are of such characters born too 
many for the peace of the world. I come at length 
to the Clerk of Oxenford. This character varies 
from that of Chaucer, as the contemplative philoso- 
pher varies from the poetical genius. There are 
always these two classes of learned sages the poeti- 
cal and the philosophical. The painter has put 



254 BLAKE* S POEMS. 

them side by side, as if the youthful clerk had put 
himself under the tuition of the mature poet. Let the 
philosopher always be the servant and scholar of 
inspiration, and all will he happy. Such ^ are the 
characters that compose this picture, which was 
painted in self-defence against the insolent and 
envious imputation of unfitness for finished and 
scientific art ; and this imputation most artfully and 
industriously endeavoured to be propagated among 
the public by ignorant hirelings. The painter 
courts comparison with his competitors, who having 
received fourteen hundred guineas, and more, from 
the profits of his designs in that well-known work, 
Designs for Blair's "Grave," have left him to shift for 
himself ; while others more obedient to an 
employer's opinions and directions are employed, 
at a great expense, to produce works in succession 
to his by which they acquired public patronage. 
This has hitherto been his lot to get patronage 
for others and then to be left and neglected, and 
his work, which gained that patronage, cried down 
as eccentricity and madness as unfinished and 
neglected by the artist's violent temper ; he is sure 
the works now exhibited will give the lie to such 
aspersions. Those who say that men are led by 
interest are knaves. A knavish character will 
often say, Of what interest is it to me to do so 
and so ? I answer, Of none at all, but the con- 
trary, as you know well. It is of malice and envy 
that you have done this ; hence I am aware of you, 
because I know that you act not from interest, but 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 255 



from malice, even to your own destruction. It is, 

therefore, become a duty which Mr. B owes to the 

public, who have alway recognised him and 
patronised him, however hidden by artifices, that 
he should not suffer such things to be done, or 
be hindered from the pubic exhibition of his 
finished productions by any calumnies in future. 
The character and expression in this picture could 
never have been produced with Rubens' light and 
shadow, or with Rembrandt's, or anything Venetian 
or Flemish. The Venetian and Flemish practice 
is broken lines, broken masses, and broken colours. 

Mr. B 's practice is unbroken lines, unbroken 

masses, and unbroken colours. Their art is to 
lose form ; his art is to find form and to keep it. 
His arts are opposite to theirs in all things. As 
there is a class of men whose whole delight is in 
the destruction of men, so there is a class of 
artists whose whole art and science is fabricated 
for this purpose of destroying art. Who these are 
is soon known ; " by their works ye shall know 
them." All who endeavour to raise up a style 
against Raphael, Michael Angelo, and he Antique 
those who separate Painting from Drawing ; who 
look if a picture is well drawn, and, if it is, im- 
mediately cry out that it cannot be well coloured 
those are the men. But to show the stupidity of 
this class of men, nothing need be done but to 
examine my rival's prospectus. The two first 
characters in Chaucer the Knight and the Squire 
he has put amongst his rabble ; and indeed his 



256 BLAK&S POEMS. 



prospectus calls the Squire "the fop of Chaucer's 
age." Now hear Chaucer 

" Of his stature, he was even length 
And wonderly deliver, and of great strength ; 
And he had be sometime in Chivanchy, 
In Flanders, in Antonis, and in Picardy, 
And borne him well as of so little space." 

Was this a fop ? 

" Well could he sit a horse, and faire ride. 
He could songs make, and eke well indite, 
Joust, and eke dance, portray, and well wiite." 

Was this a fop ? 

" Curteis he was, and meek, and serviceable ; 
And kerft before his fader at the table." 

Was this a fop ? 

It is the same with all his characters ; he has done 
all by chance, or perhap his fortune, money, money. 
Acording to his prospectus he has Three Monks ; 
these he cannot find in Chaucer, who has only One 
Monk, and that no vulgar character as he has 
endeavoured to make him. When men cannot 
read, they should not pretend to paint. To be 
sure Chaucer is a little difficult to him who has only 
blundered over novels or catchpenny trifles of 
booksellers ; yet a little pains ought to be taken, 
even by the ignorant and weak. He has put the 
Reeve, a vulgar fellow, between his Knight and 
Squire, as if he was resolved to go contrary in 
everything to Chaucer, who says of the Reeve 

"And ever he rode hinderest of the rout." 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 257 



In this manner he has jumbled his dumb dollies 
together, and is praised by his equals for it ; for 
both himself and his friend are equally masters of 
Chaucer's language. They both think the Wife 
of Bath is a young, beautiful, blooming damsel ; 

and H says that she is the "Fair Wife of 

Bath," and that " the Spring appears in her 
cheeks." Now hear what Chaucer has made her 
say of herself, who is no modest one 

" But Lord ! when it remembreth me, 
Upon my youth, and on my jollity, 
It tickleth me about the hearte root, 
Unto this day it doth my hearte boot 
That I have had my world as in my time ; 
But age, alas ! that all will envenime, 
Hath me bereft, my beauty and my pith 
Let go ; farewell ! the devil go therewith ! 
The flour is gone, there is no more to tell, 
The bran, as best I can, I now mote sell, 
And yet to be right merry, will I fond 
Now forth to telle of my fourth husband." 

She has had four husbands, a fit subject for this 
Painter ; yet the painter ought to be very much 

offended with his friend H , who has called his 

"a common scene," and "very ordinary forms," 
which is the truest part of all ; for it is so, and very 
wretchedly so, indeed. What merit can there be in 
a picture of which such words are spoken with 
truth ? But the prospectus says that the Painter 
has represented Chaucer himself as a knave who 
thrusts himself among honest people to make game 
R 



258 BLAKE'S POEMS, 



of and laugh at them ; though I must do justice to 
the Painter, and say that he has made him look 
more like a fool than a knave. But it appears in 
all the writings of Chaucer, and particularly in his 
" Canterbury Tales," that he was very devout, and 
paid respect to true enthusiastic superstition. He 
has laughed at his knave and fools, as I do now. 
But he has respected his True Pilgrims, who are a 
majority of his company, and not thrown together 

in the random manner that Mr. S has done. 

Chaucer has nowhere called the Ploughman old 
worn out with " age and labour," as the prospectus 
has represented him, and says that the picture has 
done so too. He is worn down with labour, but 
not with age. How spots of brown and yellow, 
smeared about at random, can be either young 
or old, I cannot see. It may be an old man ; it 
may be a young one ; it may be anything that 
the prospectus pleases. But I know that where 
there are no lineaments, there can be no character. 
And what connoisseurs call touch, I know by 
experience, must be the destruction of all character 
and expression, as it is of every lineament. The 

scene of Mr. S 's picture is by Dulwich Hills, 

which was not the way to Canterbury ; but perhaps 
the Painter thought he would give them a ride 
round about, because they were a burlesque set of 
scarecrows not worth any man's respect or care. 
But the Painter's thoughts being always upon gold, 
he has introduced a character that Chaucer has not 
namely, a Goldsmith, for so the prospectus tells 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 259 



us. Why he has introduced a Goldsmith, and what 
is the wit of it, the prospectus does not explain. 
But it takes care to mention the reserve and 
modesty of the Painter; this makes a good 
epigram enough 

" The fox, the mole, the beetle, and the bat, 
By sweet reserve and modesty get fat." 

But the prospectus tells us that the Painter has 
introduced a " Sea-Captain." Chaucer has a Ship- 
man, a Sailor, a Trading Master of a Vessel, called 
by courtesy captain, as every master of a boat is ; 
but this does not make him a sea-captain. Chaucer 
has purposely omitted such a personage, as it only 
exists in certain periods : it is the soldier by sea. 
He who would be a soldier in inland nations, is a 
sea-captain in commercial nations. All is miscon- 
ceived, and its misexecution is equal to its miscon- 
ception. I have no objection to Rubens and 
Rembrandt being employed, or even to their living 
in a palace ; but its hall not be at the expense of 
Raphael or Michael Angelo living in a cottage and 
in contempt and derision. I have been scorned 
long enough by these fellows, who owe to me all 
that they have ; it shall be so no longer. 



2 6o SLAKES POEMS. 



THE BARD, FROM GRAY. 

" On a rock, whose haughty brow 

Frowned o'er old Conway's foaming flood, 
Robed in the sable garb of woe, 
With haggard eyes the Poet stood. 
Loose his beard, and hoary hair 
Streamed like a meteor to' the troubled air ; 
Weave the warp, and weave the woof, 
The winding-sheet of Edward's race." 

WEAVING the winding-sheet of Edward's race 
by means of sounds of spiritual music, and 
its accompanying expressions of articulated speech, 
is a bold, and daring, and most masterly concep- 
tion, that the pjblic have embraced and approved 
with avidity. Poetry consists in these conceptions, 
and shall Painting be confined to the sordid 
drudgery of facsimile representations of merely 
mortal and perishing substances, and not be as 
poetry and music are, elevated into its own proper 
sphere of invention and visionary conception ? No, 
it shall not be so ! Painting, as well as poetry and 
music, exists and exults in immortal thoughts. If 

Mr. B 's Canterbury Pilgrims had been done 

by any other power than that of the poetic vision- 
ary, it would have been as dull as his adversary's. 
The spirits of the murdered bards assist in weaving 
the deadly woof; 

" With me in dreadful harmony they join 
And weave, with bloody hands, the tissue of thy line." 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 261 



The connoisseurs and artists who have made 

objections to Mr. B 3 s mode of representing 

spirits with real bodies would do well to consider 
that the Venus, the Minerva, the Jupiter, and 
Apollo, which they admire in Greek statues, are all 
of them representations of spiritual existences of 
gods immortal, to the mortal perishing organ of 
sight ; and yet they are embodied and organised in 
solid marble. Mr. B requires the same lati- 
tudes, and all is well The Prophets describe what 
they saw in Vision as real and existing men, whom 
they saw with their imaginative and immortal 
organs ; the Apostles the same ; the clearer the 
organ, the more distinct the object. A Spirit and 
a Vision are not, as the modern philosophy 
supposes, a cloudy vapour, or a nothing ; they are 
organised and minutely articulated beyond all that 
the mortal and perishing nature can produce. He 
who does not imagine in stronger and better linea- 
ments, and in stronger and better light, than his 
perishing mortal eye can see, does not imagine at 
all. The painter of this work asserts that all his 
imaginations appear to him infinitely more perfect 
and more minutely organised, than anything seen 
by his mortal eye. Spirits are organised men. 
Moderns wish to draw figures without lines, and 
with great and heavy shadows ; are not shadows 
more unmeaning than lines, and more heavy? Oh, 
who can doubt this ! King Edward and his Queen 
Eleanor are prostrated, with their horses, at the 
foot of a rock on which the Bard stands ; prostrated 



262 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



by the terrors of his harp, on the margin of the 
river Convvay, whose waves bear up a corpse of a 
slaughtered Bard at the foot of the rock. The 
armies of Edward are seen winding among the 
mountains 

" He wound with toilsome march his long array." 

Mortimer and Gloucester lie spellbound behind 
their king. 

The execution of the picture is also in water-colours, 
or fresco. 



THE ANCIENT BRITONS. 

IN the last Battle of King Arthur, only three 
Britons escaped these were, the Strongest 
Man, the Beautifullest Man, and the Ugliest Man. 
These three marched through the field unsubdued, 
as gods, and the sun of Britain set, but shall arise 
again with tenfold splendour when Arthur shall 
awake from sleep, and resume his dominion over 
earth and ocean. The three general classes of men 
who are represented by the most Beautiful, the 
most Strong, and the most Ugly, could not be 
represented by any historical facts but those of our 
own country, the ancient Britons, without violating 
costume. The Britons (say historians) were naked 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 263 



civilised men, learned, studious, abstruse in thought 
and contemplation, naked, simple, plain in their 
acts and manners, wiser than after ages. They 
were overwhelmed by brutal arms ; all but a small 
remnant, Strength, Beauty, and Ugliness, escaped 
the wreck, and remained for ever unsubdued, age 
after age. The British Antiquities are now in the 
artist's hands, all his visionary contemplations 
relating to his own country and its ancient 
glory, when it was, as it again shall be, the 
source of learning and inspiration (Arthur was 
a name for the Constellation Arcturus, or Bootes, 
the Keeper of the North Pole) and all the 
fables of Arthur and his Round Table ; of the 
warlike naked Britons of Merlin ; of Arthur's 
conquest of the whole world ; of his death or 
sleep, and promise to return again ; of the Druid 
monuments or temples ; of the pavement of 
Watling Street ; of London Stone ; of the caverns 
in Cornwall, Wales, Derbyshire, and Scotland ; of 
the Giants of Ireland an</ Britain; of the elemental 
beings, called by us by the general name of 
Fairies ; and of these three who escaped namely, 
Beauty, Strength, and Ugliness. Mr. B has on 
his hand poems of the highest antiquity. Adam 
was a Druid, and Noah also ; Abraham was called 
to succeed the Druidical age, which began to turn 
allegoric and mental signification into corporeal 
command, whereby human sacrifice would have 
depopulated the earth. All these things are 
written in Eden. The Artist is an inhabitant of 



264 BLAKE* S POEMS. 



that happy country, and if everything goes on as it 
has begun, the world of vegetation and generation 
may expect to be opened again in heaven, through 
Eden as it was in the beginning. The Strong 
Man represents the human sublime ; the Beautiful 
Man represents the human pathetic, which was in 
the wars of Eden divided into male and female ; 
the Ugly man represents the human reason. They 
were originally one man, who was fourfold ; he 
was self-divided, and his real humanity slain on the 
stems of generation, and the form of the fourth was 
like the Son of God. How he became divided is a 
subject of great sublimity and pathos. The artist 
has written it under inspiration, and will, if God 
please, publish it. It is voluminous, and contains 
the ancient history of Britain, and the world of 
Satan and of Adam. In the meantime he has 
painted this picture, which supposes that in the 
reign of that British prince, who lived in the fifth 
century, they were remains of those naked heroes 
in the Welsh mountains ; they are there now 
Gray saw them in the person of his Bard on 
Snowdon ; there they dwell in naked simplicity ; 
happy is he who can see and converse with them 
above the shadows of generation and death. The 
Giant Albion was Patriarch of the Atlantic ; his is 
the Atlas of the Greeks, one of those the Greeks 
call Titian. The Stories of Arthur are the acts of 
Albion applied to a prince of the fifth century, who 
conquered Europe, and held the empire of the 
world in the dark age, which the Romans never 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 265 



again recovered. In this picture, believing with 

Milton the ancient British history, Mr B has 

done all as the ancients did, and as all the moderns 
who are worthy of fame given the historical fact 
in its poetical vigour, so as it always happens, and 
not in that dull way that some historians pretend, 
who being weakly organised themselves cannot see 
either miracle or prodigy. All is to them a dull 
round of probabilities and possibilities ; but the 
history of all times and places is nothing else but 
improbabilities and impossibilities what we should 
say was impossible if we did not see it always 
before our eyes. The antiquities of every nation 
under heaven are no less sacred than those of the 
Jews. They are the same thing, as Jacob Bryant 
and all antiquaries have proved. How other an- 
tiquities came to be neglected and disbelieved, 
while those of the Jews are collected and arranged, 
is an inquiry worthy of both antiquarian and 
divine. All had originally one language and one 
religion ; this was the religion of Jesus, the ever- 
lasting gospel. Antiquity preaches the gospel of 
Jesus. The reasoning historian, turner and twister 
of causes and consequences such as Hume, 
Gibbon, and Voltaire cannot with all his artifice, 
turn or twist one fact, or disarrange self-evident 
action and reality. Reasons and opinions con- 
cerning acts are not history ; acts themselves alone 
are history, and these are not the exclusive 
property of either Hume, Gibbon, or Voltaire, 
Echard, Rapin, Plutarch, or Herodotus. Tell me 



266 B * LAKE'S POEMS. 



the acts, O historian, and leave me to reason upon 
them as I please ; away with your reasoning and 
your rubbish ! All that is not action is not worth 
reading. Tell me the What ; I do not want you to 
tell me the Why, and the How ; I can find that out 
myself as well as you can, and I will not be fooled 
by you into opinions that you please to impose, to 
disbelieve what you think improbable or im- 
possible. His opinion who does not see spiritual 
agency is not worth any man's reading ; he who 
rejects a fact because it is improbable must reject 
all history, and retain doubts only. 

It has been said to the artist, take the Apollo for 
the model of your Beautiful Man, and the Hercules 
for your Strong Man, and the Dancing Faun for 
your Ugly Man. Now he comes to his trial. He 
knows what he does is not inferior to the grandest 
antiques. Superior it cannot be, for human power 
cannot go beyond either what he does or what 
they have done ; it is the gift of God, it is inspira- 
tion and vision. He had resolved to emulate these 
precious remains of antiquity ; he has done so, and 
the result you behold his ideas of strength and 
beauty have not been greatly different. Poetry as 
it exists now on earth in the various remains of 
ancient authors, music as it exists in old tunes or 
melodies, painting and sculpture as they exist in 
the remains of antiquity and in the works of more 
modern genius each is inspiration and cannot be 
surpassed : it is perfect and eternal. Milton, 
Shakespeare, Michael Angelo, Raphael the finest 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 267 



specimens of ancient sculpture, and painting, and 
architecture, Gothic, Grecian, Hindoo, and 
Egyptian are the extent of the human mind. The 
human mind cannot go beyond the gift of God, the 
Holy Ghost. To suppose that art can go beyond 
the finest specimens of art that are now in the 
world is not knowing what art is ; it is being blind 
to the gifts of the Spirit. 

It will be necessary for the Painter to say some- 
thing concerning his ideas of Beauty, Strength, 
and Ugliness. The Beauty that is annexed and 
appended to folly, is a lamentable accident and 
error of the mortal and perishing life ; it does but 
seldom happen, but with this unnatural mixture the 
sublime Artist can have nothing to do ; it is fit for 
the burlesque. The Beauty proper for sublime art 
is lineaments, or forms and features that are 
capable of being the receptacles of intellect ; accord- 
ingly the Painter has given in his Beautiful Man 
his own ideas of intellectual Beauty. The face and 
limbs that deviate or alter least, from infancy to old 
age, are the face and limbs of greatest beauty and 
perfection. The Ugly, likewise, when accompanied 
and annexed to imbecility and disease, is a subject 
for burlesque, and not for historical grandeur. The 
Artist has imagined his Ugly Man one approach- 
ing to the beast in features and form, his forehead 
small, without frontals, his jaws large, his nose high 
on the ridge, and narrow his chest, and the stamina 
of his make comparatively little, and his joints and 
his extremities large, his eyes with scarce any 



268 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



whites, narrow and cunning, and everything tending 
toward what is truly Ugly the incapability of 
intellect. The Artist has considered his Strong 
Man as a receptacle of Wisdom, a sublime ener- 
giser, his features and limbs do not spindle out into 
length without strength, nor are they too large and 
unwieldy for his brain and bosom. Strength con- 
sists in accumulation of power to the principal seat, 
and from thence a regular graduation and subor- 
dination ; strength is compactness, not extent nor 
bulk. 

The Strong Man acts from conscious superiority, 
and marches on in fearless dependence on the 
divine decrees raging with the inspirations of a 
prophetic mind. The Beautiful Man acts from 
duty and anxious solicitude for the fates of those 
for whom he combats. The Ugly Man acts from 
love of carnage, and delights in the savage barbari- 
ties of war, rushing with sportive precipitation intc 
the very teeth of the affrighted enemy. 

The Roman Soldiers, rolled together in a heap 
before them, " like the rolling thing before the 
whirlwind," show each a different character and a 
different expression of fear, or revenge, or envy, or 
blank horror, or amazement, or devout wonder and 
unresisting awe. The dead and dying Britons 
naked, mingled with armed Romans, strew the 
field beneath. Among these the last of the Bards 
who was capable of attending warlike deeds is seen 
falling, outstretched among the dead and dying, 
singing to his harp in the pains of death. 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 269 



Distant among the mountains are Druid Temples 
similar to Stonehenge. The Sun sets behind the 
mountains, bloody with the day of battle. 

The flush of health is flesh exposed to the open 
air, nourished by the spirits of forests and floods ; 
in that ancient happy period which history has 
recorded cannot be the sickly daubs of Titian or 
Rubens. Where will the copier of nature, as it now 
is, find a civilised man who has been accustomed 
to go naked ? Imagination only can furnish us 
with colouring appropriate, such as is found in the 
Frescoes of Raphael and Michael Angelo ; the 
disposition of forms always directs colouring in 
works of true art. As to a modern man, stripped 
from his load of clothing, he is like a dead corpse. 
Hence Rubens, Titian, Correggio, and all of that 
class, are like leather and chalk ; their men are like 
leather, and their women like chalk ; for the dis- 
position of their forms will not admit of grand 

colouring. In Mr. B 's Britons the blood is 

seen to circulate in their limbs ; he defies com- 
petition in colouring. 




270 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



RUTH. A DRAWING. 

THIS design is taken from that most pathetic 
passage in the Book of Ruth, where Naomi, 
having taken leave of her daughters-in-law, with 
intent to return to her own country, Ruth cannot 
leave her, but says, " Wither thou goest, I will go, 
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge ; thy people 
shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where 
thou diest, will 1 die, and there will I be buried ; 
God do so to me, and more also, if aught but death 
part thee and me." 

The distinction that is made in modern times 
between a painting and a drawing proceeds from 
ignorance of art. The merit of a picture is the 
same as the merit of a drawing. The dauber 
daubs his drawings ; he who draws his drawings 
draws his pictures. There is no difference between 
Raphael's cartoons and his frescoes or pictures, 
except that the frescoes or pictures are more 

finished. When Mr. B formerly painted in oil 

colours, his pictures were shown to certain painters 
and connoisseurs, who said they were very admir- 
able drawings on canvas, but not pictures ; but they 
said the same of Raphael's pictures. Mr. B 
thought this the greatest of compliments, though it 
was meant otherwise. If losing and obliterating the 
outline constitutes a picture, Mr. B will never be 
so foolish as to do one. Such art of losing the 
outlines is the art of Venice and Flanders : it loses 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 271 



all character, and leaves what some people call 
expression ; but this is a false notion of expression. 
Expression cannot exist without character as its 
stamina, and neither character nor expression can 
exist without firm and determinate outline. Fresco 
painting is susceptible of higher finishing than 
drawing on paper, or than any other method of 
painting. But he must have a strange organisa- 
tion of sight who does not prefer a drawing on 
paper to a daubing in oil by the same master, 
supposing both to be done with equal care. The 
great and golden rule of art, as well as of life, is 
this That the more distinct, sharp, and wiry the 
bounding line, the more perfect the work of art, 
and the less keen and sharp, the greater is the 
evidence of weak imitation, plagiarism, and bung- 
ling. Great inventors in all ages knew this. 
Protogenes and Apelles knew each other by this 
line. Raphael, and Michael Angelo, and Albert 
Durer are known by this, and this alone. The 
want of this determinate and bounding form 
evidences the idea of want in the artist's mind, 
and the pretence of plagiary in all its branches. 
How do we distinguish the oak from the beech, 
the horse from the ox, but by the bounding out- 
line ? How do we distinguish one face or coun- 
tenance from another, but by the bounding line 
and its infinite inflections and movements? What 
is it that builds a house and plants a garden but 
the definite and determinate ? What is it that 
distinguishes honesty from knavery, but the hard 



272 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



and wiry line of rectitude and certainty in the 
actions and intentions ? Leave out this line, and 
you leave out life itself; all is chaos again, and the 
line of the Almighty must be drawn out upon it 
before man or beast can exist. Talk no more 
then of Correggio, or Rembrandt, or any other 
of those plagiaries of Venice or Flanders. They 
were but the lame imitators of lines drawn by their 
predecessors, and their works prove themselves 
contemptible disarranged imitations, and blunder- 
ing misapplied copies. 



THE TRUE AND FALSE IN LITERATURE AND ART. 

(From a Public Address.) 

WHILE the works of Pope and Dryden are 
looked upon as the same art with those of 
Shakespeare and Milton ; while the works of 
Strange and Woolett are looked upon as the same 
art with those of Raphael and Albert Durer, there 
can be no art in a nation but such as is subservient 
to the interest of the monopolising trader. 
Englishmen, arouse yourselves from the fatal 
slumber into which booksellers and trading dealers 
have thrown you, under the artfully propagated 
pretence that a translation or a copy of any kind 
can be as honourable to a nation as an original, 
belieing the English character in that well-known 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 273 



saying, " Englishmen improve what others invent." 
This even Hogarth's works prove a detestable 
falsehood. No man can improve an original 
invention ; nor can an original invention exist 
without execution organised, delineated, and 
articulated, either by God or man. I do not 
mean smoothed up, and niggled, and poco-pen'd, 
and all the beauties paled out, blurred, and blotted, 
but drawn with a firm and decided hand at once, 
like Michael Angelo, Shakespeare, and Milton. I 
have heard many people say, " Give me the ideas, 
it is no matter what words you put them into," and 
others say, " Give me the design, it is no matter 
for the executions." These people knew enough of 
artifice, but nothing of art. Ideas cannot be given 
but in their minutely appropriate words, nor can a 
design be made without its minutely appropriate 
execution. The unorganized blots and blurs of 
Reubens and Titian are not art, nor can their 
method ever express ideas or imaginations, any 
more than Pope's metaphysical jargon of rhyming. 
Unappropriate execution is the most nauseous of 
all affectation and foppery. He who copies does 
not execute ; he only imitates what is already 
executed. Execution is only the result of inven- 
tion. 



274 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



OPINIONS. 



THE nature of visionary fancy or imagination 
is very little known, and the eternal nature 
and permanence of its ever-existent images are con- 
sidered as less permanent than the things of 
vegetable and generative nature. Yet the oak dies 
as well as the lettuce ; but its eternal image or 
individuality never dies, but renews by its seed. 
Just so the imaginative image returns by the seed 
of contemplative thought. The writings of the 
prophets illustrate these conceptions of the vision- 
ary fancy by their various sublime and divine 
images as seen in the worlds of vision. 

2. 

Aristotle says, characters are either good or 
bad : now, goodness or badness has nothing to do 
with character. An apple-tree, a pear-tree, ahorse, 
a lion, are characters ; but a good apple-tree or a 
bad, is an apple-tree still. A horse is not more a 
lion for being a bad horse that is its character. 
Its goodness or badness is another consideration. 






Oil has falsely been supposed to give strength to 
colours ; but a little consideration must show the 
fallacy of this opinion. Oil will not drink or absorb 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 275 



colour enough to stand the test of very little time 
and of the air. It deadens every colour it is mixed 
with, at its first mixture, and in a little time 
becomes a yellow mask over all that it touches. 
Let the works of modern artists since Ruben's time 
witness the villainy of some one at that time, who 
first brought oil painting into general opinion and 
practice, since which we have never had a picture 
painted that could show itself by the side of an 
earlier production. Whether Rubens or Vandyke, 
or both, were guilty of this villainy is to be inquired 
in another work on painting, and who first forged 
the silly story and known falsehood about John of 
Bruges inventing oil colours. In the meantime let 
it be observed, that before Vandyke's time, and in 
his time, all the genuine pictures are on plaster or 
whiting grounds, and none since. 



This subject an experiment picture is taken 
from the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg. The 
learned who strive to ascend into heaven by means 
of learning appear to children like dead horses 
when repelled by the celestial spheres. The works 
of this visionary are well worthy the attention of 
painters and poets ; they are foundations for grand 
things. The reason they have not been more 
attended to is, because corporeal demons have 
gained a predominance. Who the leaders of these 
are will be shown below. Unworthy men, who 
gain fame among men, continue to govern man- 



276 BLAK&S POEMS. 



kind after death, and in their spiritual bodies oppose 
the spirits of those who worthily are famous, and as 
Swedenborg observes, shut the doors of mind and of 
thought by placing learning above inspiration. 

5- 

The drawing, " The penance of Jane Shore in 
Saint Paul's Church," was done above thirty years 
ago, and proves to the author, and he thinks will to 
any discerning eye, that the productions of our 
youth and of our maturer age are not equal in all 
essential points. If a man is master of his pro- 
fession, he cannot be ignorant that he is so ; and if 
he is not employed by those who pretend to 
encourage art, he will employ himself, and laugh 
in secret at the pretences of the ignorant, while he 
has every night dropped into his shoe as soon as 
he puts it off, and puts out the candle, and gets into 
bed a reward for the labours of the day, such as 
the world cannot give ; and patience and time 
await to give him all that the world can give. 

6. 

All frescoes are as high finished as miniatuies 
or enamels, and they are known to be unchange- 
able ; but oil, being a body itself, will drink or 
absorb very little colour, and changing yellow, and 
at length brown, destroys every colour it is mixed 
with, especially every delicate colour. It turns 
every permanent white to a yellow and brown 
putty, and has compelled the use of that destroyer 
of colour, white lead, which, when its protecting oil 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 277 



is evaporated, will become lead again. This is an 
awful thing to say to oil painters ; they may call it 
madness, but it is true. All the genuine old little 
pictures, called cabinet pictures, are in fresco and 
not in oil. Oil was not used except by blundering 
ignorance till after Vandyke's time ; but the art of 
fresco painting being lost, oil became a fetter to 
genius and a dungeon to art. But one convincing 
proof among many others that these assertions are 
true is, that real gold and silver cannot be used 
with oil, as they are in all the old pictures, and in 

Mr. B 's frescoes. 

7- 

Every poem must necessarily be a perfect unity, 
but why Homer's is peculiarly so I cannot tell. 
He has told the story of Bellerophon and omitted 
the Judgment of Paris, which is not only a part, 
but a principal part of Homer's subject. But when 
a work has unity, it is as much so in a part as in 
the whole. The torso is as much a unity as the 
Laocoon. 

8. 

The world of imagination is the world of eternity. 
It is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after 
the death of the vegetated body. This world of 
imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the 
world of generation, or vegetation, is finite and 
temporal. There exist in that eternal world the 
permanent realities of every thing which we see 
reflected in this vegetable glass of nature. 



278 BLAKE^S POEMS. 



NOTE. 

The Mr. S mentioned so often in Extracts was 

his old friend and rival artist, Mr. Stothard, who 
had been prompted by Cromek to produce a design 
of Canterbury Pilgrimage in rival to Blake's own 
remarkable work. Blake, who believed his old 
friend to have filched his idea from himself, criti- 
cises Mr. Stothard's work in these extracts. J. S. 




PROSE EXTRACTS. 279 



PROVERBS. 

IN seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. 
Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of 

the dead. 

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. 
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by 

Incapacity. 

The cut worm forgives the plough. 
Dip him in the river who loves water. 
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. 
He whose face gives no light shall never become a 

star. 

Eternity is in love with the productions of time. 
The busy bee has no time for sorrow. 
The hours of Folly are measured by the clock, but 

of Wisdom no clock can measure. 
All wholesome food is caught without a net or a 

trap. 
Bring out number, weight, and measure in a year 

of dearth . 

The most sublime act is to set another before you. 
If the fool would persist in his folly he would 

become wise. 
Shame is Pride's cloak. 

Excess of sorrow laughs ; excess of joy weeps. 
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the 

raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive 

sword are portions of eternity too great for the 

eye of man. 



280 BLAKE'S POEMS. 



The fox condemns the trap, not himself. 

Joys impregnate, sorrows bring forth. 

Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece 

of the sheep. 

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship. 
The selfish, smiling fool and the sullen, frowning 

fool shall both be thought wise, that they may 

be a rod. 

What is now proved was once only imagined. 
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit, watch the 

roots; the lion, the tiger, the horse, the elephant 

the fruits. 

The cistern contains, the fountain overflows. 
One thought fills immensity. 
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base 

man will avoid you. 
Everything possible to be believed is an image of 

truth. 
The eagle never lost so much time as when he 

submitted to learn of the crow. 
The fox provides for himself, but God provides for 

the lion. 

He who has suffered you to impose on him knows you. 
The tigers of wrath are wiser than horses of in- 
struction. 

Expect poison from the standing water. 
You never know what is enough, unless you know 

what is more than enough. 

Listen to thefool's reproach ; it is a kingly title ! 
The eyes of fire ; the nostrils of air ; the mouth of 

water ; the beard of earth. 



PROSE EXTRACTS. 281 



The weak in courage is strong in cunning. 

The apple-tree never asks the beech how he shall 

grow, nor the lion the horse how he shall take 

his prey. 

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest. 
If others had not been foolish we should be so. 
The soul of sweet delight can never be defiled. 
When thou seest an eagle thou seest a portion of 

genius ; lift up thy head ! 
One law for the lion and ox is oppression. 
To create a little flower is the labour of ages. 
Damn braces. Bless relaxes. 
The best wine is the oldest, the best water the 

newest. 

Prayers plough not ! Praises reap not ! 
Joys laugh not ! Sorrows weep not ! 
As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish, so is con- 
tempt to the contemptible. 
The crow wished everything was black, the owl 

that everything was white. 
Exuberance is beauty. 
Improvement makes straight road, but the crooked 

roads without improvement are roads of genius. 
Where man is not, Nature is barren. 
Truth can never be told so as to be understood 

and not be believed. 
Enough or too much. 



282 



BLAKE>S POEMS. 



NOTE TO SAMSON (Page 75). 

In this poem, which was originally printed as prose, 
I have followed the example of Mr, W. M. Rosetti in hia 
excellent edition of Blake's Complete Poems, Bell and 
Daldy, 1874, in printing it as verse, as it is undoubtedly 
written in metre, though that metre is aught but 
perfect. J. S. 



WALTER SCOTT, 
NEWCAS 




fOOTT, PRINTER, \ T, 
ITLE-ON-TYNE. k~J^ 



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