Selected Poems by William Blake
THE NEW JERUSALEM 1804-1810 And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England's pleasant pastures seen? And did the Countenance Divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here Among these dark Satanic Mills? Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire! Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold! Bring me my charriot of fire! I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand Till we have built Jerusalem In England's green and pleasant land.
THE CRYSTAL CABINET 1803? The Maiden caught me in the wild, Where I was dancing merrily; She put me into her Cabinet, And lock'd me up with a golden key. This cabinet is form'd 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 bower. Another Maiden like herself, Translucent, lovely, shining clear, Threefold each in the other clos'd O, what a pleasant trembling fear! O, what a smile! a threefold smile Fill'd me, that like a flame I burn'd; I bent to kiss the lovely Maid, And found a threefold kiss return'd. I strove to seize the inmost form With ardor 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 reclin'd, And in the outward air again, I fill'd with woes the passing wind.
THE LAND OF DREAMS 1800-1810 Awake, awake, my little boy! Thou wast thy mother's only joy; Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep? Awake! thy father does thee keep. “O, what land is the Land of Dreams? What are its mountains, and what are its streams? O father! I saw my mother there, Among the lilies by waters fair. “Among the lambs, clothéd in white, She walk'd with her Thomas in sweet delight. I wept for joy, like a dove I mourn; O! when shall I again return?” Dear child, I also by pleasant streams Have wander'd all night in the Land of Dreams; But tho' calm and warm the waters wide, I could not get to the other side. “Father, O father! what do we here In this land of unbelief and fear? The Land of Dreams is better far Above the light of the morning star.”
LOVE'S SECRET 1793-1799 Never seek to tell thy love, Love that never told can be; For the gentle wind does 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! Soon as she was gone from me, A traveler came by, Silently, invisibly He took her with a sigh.
MAD SONG 1769-1777 The wild winds weep, And the night is a-cold; Come hither, Sleep, And my griefs unfold: But lo! the morning peeps Over the eastern steeps, And the rustling birds 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 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.
MY SPECTRE AROUND ME &ante; 1827 My 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. He scents thy footsteps in the snow, Wheresoever thou dost go Through the wintry hail and rain. When wilt thou return again? Dost thou not in pride and scorn Fill with tempests all my morn, And with jealousies and fears Fill my pleasant nights with tears? Seven of my sweet loves thy knife Has bereaved of their life. Their marble tombs I built with tears And with cold and shuddering fears. Seven more loves weep night and day Round the tombs where my loves lay, And seven more loves attend each night Around my couch with torches bright. And seven more loves in my bed Crown with wine my mournful head, Pitying and forgiving all Thy transgressions, great and small. When wilt thou return and view My loves and them to life renew? When wilt thou return and live? When wilt thou pity as I forgive? “Never, Never, I return: Still for Victory I burn. Living, thee alone I'll have And when dead I'll be thy Grave. “Thro' the Heaven and Earth and Hell Thou shalt never never quell: I will fly and thou pursue, Night and Morn the flight renew.” Till I turn from Female Love, And root up the Infernal Grove, I shall never worthy be. To Step into Eternity. And, to end thy cruel mocks, Annihilate thee on the rocks, And another form create To be subservient to my Fate. Let us agree to give up Love, And root up the infernal grove; Then shall we return and see The worlds of happy Eternity. And Throughout all Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me. As our dear Redeemer said: “This the Wine and this the Bread.” Additional Stanzas O'er my Sins thou sit and moan: Hast thou no sins of thy own? O'er my Sins thou sit and weep, And lull thy own Sins fast asleep. What Transgressions I commit Are for they Transgressions fit. They thy Harlots, thou their slave, And my Bed becomes their Grave. Poor pale pitiable form That I follow in a Storm, Iron tears and groans of lead Bind around my aking head.
SILENT, SILENT NIGHT 1793-1799 Silent, silent night, Quench the holy light Of thy torches bright; For possessed of Day Thousand spirits stray That sweet joys betray. Why should joys be sweet Used with deceit, Nor with sorrows meet? But an honest joy Does itself destroy For a harlot coy.
SLEEP! SLEEP! BEAUTY BRIGHT 1793-1799 Sleep! sleep! beauty bright, Dreaming o'er the joys of night; Sleep! sleep! in thy sleep Little sorrows sit and weep. Sweet Babe, in thy face Soft desires I can trace, Secret joys and secret smiles, Little pretty infant wiles. As thy softest limbs I feel, Smiles as of the morning steal O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast Where thy little heart does rest. O! the cunning wiles that creep In thy little heart asleep. When thy little heart does wake Then the dreadful lightnings break, From thy cheek and from thy eye, O'er the youthful harvests nigh. Infant wiles and infant smiles Heaven and Earth of peace beguiles.
SONG 1783 My silks and fine array, My smiles and languish'd air, By love are driv'n away; And mournful lean Despair Brings me yew to deck my grave; Such end true lovers have. His face is fair as heav'n When springing buds unfold; O why to him was't giv'n Whose heart is wintry cold? His breast is love's all-worshipp'd 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!
TO AUTUMN 1783 O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainéd With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest, And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe, And all the daughters of the year shall dance! 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; Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve, Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing, And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head. “The spirits of the air live in 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 SPRING 1783 O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down Thro' 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 love-sick land that mourns for thee. O 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 1783 O thou who passest thro' our valleys in Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer, Oft pitched'st here thy goldent tent, and oft Beneath our oaks hast 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 Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream: Our valleys love the Summer in his pride. Our bards are fam'd 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.
THE WILD FLOWER'S SONG 1793-1799 As I wandered 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 fears And I felt delight. “In the morning I went As rosy as morn, To seek for new joy; But oh! met with scorn.”
AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE &ante; 1827 To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour A Robin Red breast in a Cage Puts all Heaven in a Rage A dove house filld with doves & Pigeons Shudders Hell thro all its regions A dog starvd at his Masters Gate Predicts the ruin of the State A Horse misusd upon the Road Calls to Heaven for Human blood Each outcry of the hunted Hare A fibre from the Brain does tear A Skylark wounded in the wing A Cherubim does cease to sing The Game Cock clipd & armd for fight Does the Rising Sun affright Every Wolfs & Lions howl Raises from Hell a Human Soul The wild deer wandring here & there Keeps the Human Soul from Care The Lamb misusd breeds Public strife And yet forgives the Butchers Knife The Bat that flits at close of Eve Has left the Brain that wont Believe The Owl that calls upon the Night Speaks the Unbelievers fright He who shall hurt the little Wren Shall never be belovd by Men He who the Ox to wrath has movd Shall never be by Woman lovd The wanton Boy that kills the Fly Shall feel the Spiders enmity He who torments the Chafers sprite Weaves a Bower in endless Night The Catterpiller on the Leaf Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly For the Last Judgment draweth nigh He who shall train the Horse to War Shall never pass the Polar Bar The Beggers Dog & Widows Cat Feed them & thou wilt grow fat The Gnat that sings his Summers song Poison gets from Slanders tongue The poison of the Snake & Newt Is the sweat of Envys Foot The Poison of the Honey Bee Is the Artists Jealously The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags A truth thats told with bad intent Beats all the Lies you can invent It is right it should be so Man was made for Joy & Woe And when this we rightly know Thro the World we safely go Joy & Woe are woven fine A Clothing for the Soul divine Under every grief & pine Runs a joy with silken twine The Babe is more than swadling Bands Throughout all these Human Lands Tools were made & Born were hands Every Farmer Understands Every Tear from Every Eye Becomes a Babe in Eternity This is caught by Females bright And returned to its own delight The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath Writes Revenge in realms of death The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air Does to Rags the Heavens tear The Soldier armd with Sword & Gun Palsied strikes the Summers Sun The poor Mans Farthing is worth more Than all the Gold on Africs Shore One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands Or if protected from on high Does that whole Nation sell & buy He who mocks the Infants Faith Shall be mock'd in Age & Death He who shall teach the Child to Doubt The rotting Grave shall neer get out He who respects the Infants faith Triumphs over Hell & Death The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons Are the Fruits of the Two seasons 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 The Strongest Poison ever known Came from Caesars Laurel Crown Nought can deform the Human Race Like to the Armours iron brace When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow A Riddle or the Crickets Cry Is to Doubt a fit Reply The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile Make Lame Philosophy to smile He who Doubts from what he sees Will neer Believe do what you Please If the Sun & Moon should doubt Theyd immediately Go out To be in a Passion you Good many do But no Good if a Passion is in you The Whore & Gambler by the State Licencd build that Nations Fate The Harlots cry from Street to Street Shall weave Old Englands winding Sheet The Winners Shout the Losers Curse Dance before dead Englands Hearse Every Night & every Morn Some to Misery are Born Every Morn & every Night Some are Born to sweet delight Some are Born to sweet delight Some are Born to Endless Night We are led to Believe a Lie When we see not Thro the Eye Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light God Appears & God is Light To those poor Souls who dwell in Night But does a Human Form Display To those Who Dwell in Realms of day
A DIVINE IMAGE 1790-1791 Cruelty has a human heart, And Jealousy a human face; Terror the human form divine, And Secresy 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.