Life of William Blake (1863), Volume 2/Poems Hitherto Unpublished


There is a smile of Love,
And there is a smile of Deceit,
And there is a snile of smiles
In which the two miles 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 sicks in the deep backbone.
And no smile ever was smiled
But only one smile alone
(And betwixt the cradle and grave
It only once smiled can be),
That when it once is smiled
There's an end to all misery.


Beneath 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—
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 intreating Flaming-fire,
Now intreating Iron-wire,
Now intreating Tears-aud-sighs—
O when will the morning rise!


'Awake, awake, my little boy!
Thou wast thy mother's only joy;
hy dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?
0 wake l thy father doth 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 clothed in white,
She walked 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 wandered all night in the land of dreams,
But, though calm and warm the waters wide,
I could not get to the other side.'

'Father, O father l 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.'


Sweet 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 conscions delight,
To augment with sweet smiles all the joys of the nght,
Nor once binshes to own to the rest of the fair
That sweet love and beauty are worthy our care.

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 reviled her still more,
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.
'O 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 hl 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 ruerit'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;
And if any girl's lover forsakes 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 wspt, sitting on the bed-side,
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 ild sorrow and care,
And thine is a face of wild terror and fear
That shall never be quiet till laid on its bier.


To see a world in a grain of sand
And a Heave 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 wolf's 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.

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 spiders enmity;
He who torments the chafer's sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeas 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 butchef'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.
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 fight;
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 Cesafs laurel-crown.
Naught can deform the human race
L;lre to the armourer's iron brace;
The soldier armed with sword and gun
Palsied strikes the s,mmer's sun;
When gold and gems adorn the plough,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow;
The boggafs rags fluttering in air
Do to rags the heavens tear;
The prince's robes and beggaffs rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags;
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
Than 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 winner's 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 rotting grave shall ne'er get out;
He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death;
The babe is more than swaddling hands
Throughout all these human lands;
Tools were made and horn were hands,
Every farmer understands.
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.
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 night
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.


The 'Mental Traveller' indicаtes an explorer of mental phænomena. The mental phænomenon here symbolized seems to be the career of any great Idea or intellectual movement—as, for instance, Christianity, chivalry, art, &c.—represented as going through the stages of—1. birth, 2. adversity and persecution, 3. triumph and maturity, 4. decadence through over-ripeness, 5. gradual transformation, under new conditions, into another renovated Idea, which again has to pass through all the same stages. In other words, the poem represents the action and re-action of Ideas upon society, and of society upon Ideas.

Argument of the stanzas: 2. The Idea, conceived with pain, is born amid enthusiasm. 3. If of masculine, enduring nature, it falls under the control and ban of the already existing state of society (the woman old). 5. As the Idea develops, the old society becomes moulded into a new society (the old woman grows young). 6. The Idea, now free and dominant, is united to society, as it were in wedlock. 8. It gradually grows old and effete, living now only upon the spiritual treasures laid up in the days of its early energy. 10. These still subserve many purposes of practical good, and outwardly the Idea is in its most flourishing estate, even when sapped at its roots. 11. The halo of authority and tradition, or prestige, gathering round the Idea, is symbolized in the resplendent babe born on his hearth. 13. This prestige deserts the Idea itself, and attaches to some individual, who usurps the honour due only to the Idea (as we may see in the case of papacy, royalty, &c.); and the Idea is eclipsed by its own very prestige, and assumed living representative. 14. The Idea wanders homeless till it can find a new community to mould ('until he can a maiden win'). 15 to 17. Finding whom, the Idea finds itself also living under strangely different conditions. 18. The Idea is now "beguiled to infancy"—becomes a new Idea, in working upon a fresh community, and under altered conditions. 20. Nor are they yet thoroughly at one; she flees away while he pursues. 22. Here we return to the first state of the case. The Idea starts upon a new course—is a babe; the society it works upon has become an old society—no longer a fair virgin, but an aged woman. 24. The Idea seems so new and unwonted that, the nearer it is seen, the more consternation it excites. 26. None can deal with the Idea so as to develop it to the full, except the old society with which it comes into contact; and this can deal with it only by misusing it at first, whereby (as in the previous stage, at the opening of the poem) it is to be again disciplined into ultimate triumph.


I 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 strong 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.


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 fillèd 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 anc the lover's sigh.


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 distress'd,
Until he can a maiden win.


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 fiat 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 off 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.


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 ecstacy
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.


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 it down upon the rock,
And all is done as I have told.


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.

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.

O 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?

'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 eyna'

Mary tremiled, and Mary chilled,
And Mary ell 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.

'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 uaked and outcast,--seek Love there.'

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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