Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Or were I in the wildest waste,

Sae black and bare, sae black and bare,
The desert were a paradise

If thou wert there, if thou wert there;
Or were I monarch of the globe,

Wi' thee to reign, wi' thee to reign,
The brightest jewel in my crown

Wad be my queen, wad be my queen. 1796.

1800.

15

WILLIAM BLAKE

SONG

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.

5

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.

10

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.

1783.

IS

INTRODUCTION

TO "SONGS OF INNOCENCE"

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

[merged small][ocr errors]

“Pipe a song about a lamb!"

So I piped with merry cheer. “Piper, pipe that song again l”

So I piped: he wept to hear.
“Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!"
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 may joy to hear.

15

20

1789.

5

THE ECHOING GREEN
The 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;
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."

15

20

[blocks in formation]

HOLY THURSDAY ’T was on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean, The 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.

5

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. 10 Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor; Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

1789.

[blocks in formation]

THE BOOK OF THEL

I

IO

The 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: 5
“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!”
The lily of the valley, breathing in the humble grass,

15 Answered the lovely maid, and said: “I am a watery weed, 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, 20 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? 25 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. Thel answered: “O thou little virgin of the peaceful valley, Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, the o'ertired, Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb; he smells thy milky garments,

30 He crops thy flowers, while thou sittest smiling in his face, Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all contagious taints. Thy wine doth purify the golden honey; thy perfume, Which thou dost scatter, on every little blade of grass that

springs,

« PreviousContinue »