Poems by William Blake
To the Muses
WHETHER 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 5
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 10
Wandering in many a coral grove;
Fair Nine forsaking Poetry;
How have you left the ancient love
That bards of old enjoy'd in you!
The languid strings do scarcely move 15
The sound is forced the notes are few.
O 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 one another and the listening 5
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd
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 perfum¨¨d garments; let us taste 10
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick 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 languish'd head 15
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.
MY silks and fine array
My smiles and languish'd air
By Love are driven away;
And mournful lean Despair
Brings me yew to deck my grave: 5
Such end true lovers have.
His face is fair as heaven
When springing buds unfold:
O why to him was 't given
Whose heart is wintry cold? 10
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 15
Let winds and tempests beat:
Then down I'll lie as cold as clay:
True love doth pass away!
Reeds 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:
'Pipe a song about a Lamb!' 5
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!' 10
So I sung 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 vanish'd from my sight; 15
And I pluck'd a hollow reed
And I made a rural pen
And I stain'd the water clear
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear. 20
The Little Black Boy
MY mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O, 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, 5
And, sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kiss¨¨d me,
And, pointing to the East, began to say:
'Look at the rising sun: there God does live,
And gives His light, and gives His heat away, 10
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 15
Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove.
'For when our souls have learn'd 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."' 20
Thus did my mother say, and kiss¨¨d 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 25
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.
Hear the Voice
HEAR the voice of the Bard
Who present past and future sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walk'd among the ancient trees; 5
Calling the laps¨¨d soul
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole
And fallen fallen light renew! 10
'O Earth O Earth return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass. 15
'Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor
The watery shore
Is given thee till the break of day.' 20
TIGER tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies 5
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? 10
And when thy heart began to beat
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp 15
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee? 20
Tiger tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
SLEEP sleep beauty bright
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.
Sweet babe in thy face 5
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 10
O'er thy cheek and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.
O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake 15
Then the dreadful night shall break.
THE 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 5
In heaven's high bower
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.
Farewell green fields and happy grove
Where flocks have took delight: 10
Where lambs have nibbled silent move
The feet of angels bright;
Unseen they pour blessing
And joy without ceasing
On each bud and blossom 15
And each sleeping bosom.
They look in every thoughtless nest
Where birds are cover'd warm;
They visit caves of every beast
To keep them all from harm: 20
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 25
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 30
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 cries 35
And walking round the fold:
Saying 'Wrath by His meekness
And by His health sickness
Are driven away
From our immortal day. 40
'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 wash'd in life's river 45
My bright mane for ever
Shall shine like the gold
As I guard o'er the fold.'
NEVER seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
I told my love I told my love 5
I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears.
Ah! she did depart!
Soon after she was gone from me
A traveller came by 10
He took her with a sigh.