This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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Songs and Ballads
by William Blake

Reflects the order in David Erdman's "The Complete Poetry & Prose" edition. Source: "Blake Archive".

575658Songs and BalladsWilliam Blake

[From Blake’s Notebook (c.1793)]

Never pain to tell thy Love
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
Silently invisibly

5I told my love I told my love
I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears
Ah she doth depart

Soon as she was gone from me
10A traveller came by
Silently invisibly
O was no deny [1]


I feard the fury of my wind
Would blight all blossoms fair & true
And my sun it shind & shind
And my wind it never blew

5But a blossom fair or true
Was not found on any tree
For all blossoms grew & grew
Fruitless false tho fair to see[2]


I saw a chapel all of gold
That none did dare to enter in
And many weeping stood without
Weeping mourning worshipping

5I saw a serpent rise between
The white pillars of the door
And he forcd & forcd & forcd
Down the golden hinges tore

And along the pavement sweet
10Set with pearls & rubies bright
All his slimy length he drew
Till upon the altar white

Vomiting his poison out
On the bread & on the wine
15So I turnd into a sty
And laid me down among the swine[3]


I laid me down upon a bank
Where love lay sleeping
I heard among the rushes dank
Weeping Weeping

5Then I went to the heath & the wild
To the thistles & thorns of the waste
And they told me how they were beguild
Driven out & compeld to be chaste[4]


Sleep Sleep beauty bright
Dreaming oer the joys of night
Sleep Sleep: in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit & weep

5Sweet Babe in thy face
Soft desires I can trace
Secret joys & secret smiles
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel
10Smiles as of the morning steal
Oer thy cheek & oer thy breast
Where thy little heart does rest

O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep
15When thy little heart does wake
Then the dreadful lightnings break

From thy cheek & from thy eye
Oer the youthful harvests nigh
Infant wiles & infant smiles
20Heaven & Earth of peace beguiles[5]


I asked a thief to steal me a peach
He turned up his eyest
I ask'd a lithe lady to lie her down
Holy & meek she cries—

5As soon as I went
An angel came.
He wink'd at the thief
And smild at the dame—

And without one word said
10Had a peach from the tree
And still as a maid
Enjoy'd the lady.[6]


To a lovely mirtle bound
Blossoms showring all around
O how sick & weary I
Underneath my mirtle lie
5Why should I be bound to thee
O my lovely mirtle tree[7]


[To go] on I Plate

O lapwing thou fliest around the heath
Nor seest the net that is spread beneath
Why dost thou not fly among the corn fields
They cannot spread nets where a harvest yields[8]


Why of the sheep do you not learn peace
Because I dont want you to shear my fleece[9]


Thou hast a lap full of seed
And this is a fine country
Why dost thou not cast thy seed
And live in it merrily

5Shall 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
10Some stinking weed[10]


The countless gold of a merry heart
The rubies & pearls of a loving eye
The indolent never can bring to the mart
Nor the secret hoard up in his treasury[11]


If you trap the moment before its ripe
The tears of repentance youll certainly wipe
But if once you let the ripe moment go
You can never wipe off the tears of woe[12]


He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise[13]


I heard an Angel singing
When the day was springing
Mercy Pity Peace
Is the worlds release

5Thus he sung all day
Over the new mown hay
Till the sun went down
And haycocks looked brown
I heard a Devil curse
10Over the heath & the furze
Mercy could be no more
If there was nobody poor

And pity no more could be
If all were as happy as we
15At his curse the sun went downt
And the heavens gave a frown

Down pourd the heavy rain
Over the new reapd grain
And Miseries increase
20Is Mercy Pity Peace[14]

Silent Silent Night
Quench the holy light
Of thy torches bright

For possessd of Day
5Thousand spirits stray
That sweet joys betray

Why should joys be sweet
Used with deceit
Nor with sorrows meet

10But an honest joy
Does itself destroy
For a harlot coy[15]


Why art thou silent & invisible
Father of jealousy
Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds
From every searching Eye

5Why darkness & obscurity
In all thy words & laws
That none dare eat the fruit but from
The wily serpents jaws
Or is it because Secresy
10gains females loud applause[16]


Are not the joys of morning sweetert
Than the joys of night
And are the vigrous joys of youth
Ashamed of the light

5Let age & sickness silent rob
The vineyards in the night
But those who burn with vigrous youth
Pluck fruits before the light[17]


How came pride in Man
From Mary it began
How Contempt & Scorn
What a world is Man
5His Earth[18]


Love to faults is always blind
Always is to joy inclind
Lawless wingd & unconfind
And breaks all chains from every mind

5Deceit to secresy confind
Lawful cautious & refind
To every thing but interest blind
And forges fetters for the mind[19]


As I wanderd the forest
The green leaves among
I heard a wild flower
Singing a Song

5I slept in the earth
In the silent night
I murmurd my fears
And I felt delight

In the morning I went
10As rosy as morn
To seek for new Joy
But I met with scorn[20]


I walked abroad in a snowy day
I askd the soft snow with me to play
She playd & she melted in all her prime
And the winter calld it a dreadful crime[21]


The harvest shall flourish in wintry Weather
When two virginities meet together
The King & the Priest must be tied in a tether
Before two virgins can meet together[22]


Why should I care for the men of thames
Or the cheating waves of charterd streams
Or shrink at the little blasts of fear
That the hireling blows into my ear

5Tho born on the cheating banks of Thames
Tho his waters bathed my infant limbs
The Ohio shall wash his stains from me
I was born a slave but I go to be free[23]


The Sun arises in the East
Clothd in robes of blood & gold
Swords & spears & wrath increast
All around his bosom rolld
5Crownd with warlike fires & raging desires[24]


The sword sung on the barren heath
The sickle in the fruitful field
The sword he sung a song of death
But could not make the sickle yield[25]


Abstinence sows sand all over
The ruddy limbs & flaming hair
But Desire Gratified
Plants fruits of life & beauty there[26]


In a wife I would desire
What in whores is always found
The lineaments of Gratified desire[27]


Come hither my boy tell me what thou seest there
A fool tangled in a religious snare[28]


An old maid early eer I knew
Ought but the love that on me grew
And now Im coverd oer & oer
And wish that I had been a Whore

5O I cannot cannot find
The undaunted courage of a Virgin Mind
For Early I in love was crost
Before my flower of love was lost[29]


He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternitys sun rise


The look of love alarms
Because tis filld with fire
But the look of soft deceit
Shall Win the lovers hire


Soft deceit & Idleness
These are Beautys sweetest dress[30]


What is it men in women do require
The lineaments of Gratified Desire
What is it women do in men require
The lineaments of Gratified Desire[31]


Remove away that blackning church
Remove away that marriage hearse
Remove away that________of blood t
Youll quite remove the ancient curse[32]


Come hither my sparrows
My little arrows
If a tear or a smile
Will a man beguile
5If an amorous delay
Clouds a sunshiny day
If the step of a foot t
Smites the heart to its root
Tis the marriage ring
10Makes each fairy a king

So a fairy sung
From the leaves I sprung
He leapd from the spray
To flee away
15But in my hat caught t
He soon shall be taught
Let him laugh let him cry
Hes my butterfly t
For I've pulld out the Sting
20Of the marriage ring


Thou little Kid didst play

My Spectre around me night & day t
Like a Wild beast guards my way
My Emanation far within t
Weeps incessantly for my Sin

5A Fathomless & 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
10Wheresoever thou dost go
Thro the wintry hail & rain
When wilt thou return again

Dost thou not in Pride & scorn
Fill with tempests all my morn
15And with jealousies & 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 tearst
20And with cold & shuddering fears

Seven more loves weep night & day
Round the tombs where my loves lay
And seven more loves attend each night
Around my couch with torches bright

25And seven more Loves in my bed
Crown with wine my mournful headt
Pitying & forgiving all
Thy transgressions great & small

When wilt thou return & view
30My loves & them to life renew
When wilt thou return & live
When wilt thou pity as I forgive t

Never Never I return t
Still for Victory I burn
35Living thee alone Ill have
And when dead Ill be thy Grave

Thro the Heavn & Earth & Hell
Thou shalt never never quell
I will fly & thou pursue
40Night & Morn the flight renew

Till I turn from Female Love t
And root up the Infernal Grove t
I shall never worthy be t
To Step into Eternity

45And to end thy cruel mockst
Annihilate thee on the rockst
And another form create
To be subservient to my Fate

Let us agree to give up Love
50And root up the infernal grove
Then shall we return & see
The worlds of happy Eternity

& Throughout all Eternity t
I forgive you you forgive me
55As our dear Redeemer said
This the Wine & this the Bread[34]



Oer my Sins Thou sit & moan t
Hast thou no Sins of thy own t
Oer my Sins thou sit & weep t
And lull thy own Sins fast asleep t

5What Transgressions I commit
Are for thy Transgressions fit
They thy Harlots thou their Slave
And my Bed becomes their Grave

Poor pale pitiable form
10That I follow in a Storm
Iron tears & groans of lead
Bind around my akeing head

And let us go to the highest downs
With many pleasing wiles
15The Woman that does not love your Frowns
Will never embrace your smiles


Mock on Mock on Voltaire Rousseau
Mock on Mock on! tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind
And the wind blows it back againt

5And every sand becomes a Gem
Reflected in the beams divine
Blown back they blind the mocking Eye t
But still in Israels paths they shine

The Atoms of Democritus
10And Newtons Particles of light
Are sands upon the Red sea shore
Where Israels tents do shine so bright


To find the western path
Right thro the gates of Wrath
I urge my way
Sweet Mercy leads me on
5With soft repentant moan
I see the break of day

The war of swords & spears
Melted by dewy tears
Exhales on high
10The Sun is freed from fears
And with soft grateful tears
Ascends the sky


Terror in the house does roar
But Pity stands before the door


He. Where 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

5She. Yonder stands a lonely tree
There I live & mourn for thee
Morning drinks my silent tear
And evening winds my sorrows bear

He. O thou Summers harmony
10I have livd & mournd for thee
Each day I mourn along the wood
And night hath heard my sorrows loud

She. Dost thou truly long for me
And am I thus sweet to thee
15Sorrow now is at an End
O my Lover & my Friend

He. Come on wings of joy well fly
To where my Bower hangs on high
Come & make thy calm retreat
20Among green leaves & blossoms sweet


Why was Cupid a Boy
And why a boy was he
He should have been a Girl
For ought that I can see

5For he shoots with his bow
And the Girl shoots with her Eye
And they both are merry & glad
And laugh when we do cry

And to make Cupid a Boy
10Was the Cupid Girls mocking plant
For a boy cant interpret the thing
Till he is become a man

And then hes so piercd with care
And wounded with arrowy smarts
15That the whole business of his life
Is to pick out the heads of the darts
Twas the Greeks love of war
Turnd Love into a Boy
And Woman into a Statue of Stone
20And away fled every joy


Now Art has lost its mental Charms
France shall subdue the World in Arms
So spoke an Angel at my birth
Then said Descend thou upon Earth

5Renew the Arts on Britains Shore
And France shall fall down & adore
With works of Art their Armies meet
And War shall sink beneath thy feet

But if thy Nation Arts refuse
10And if they scorn the immortal Muse
France shall the arts of Peace restore
And save thee from the Ungrateful shore

Spirit who lovst Brittannias Isle
Round which the Fiends of Commerce smile


[Dedication to Blake's Illustrations to Blair's Grave, printed 1808]

To the Queen

The Door of Death is made of Gold,
That Mortal Eyes cannot behold;
But, when the Mortal Eyes are clos'd,
And cold and pale the Limbs repos'd,
5The Soul awakes; and, wond'ring, 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,
10Behold this Gate of Pearl and Gold!

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,
15From the vast regions of the Grave,
Before Her Throne my Wings I wave;
Bowing before my Sov'reign's Feet,
“The Grave produc'd these Blossoms sweet
“In mild repose from Earthly strife;
20“The Blossoms of Eternal Life!”


________________________________________ [From Blake’s Notebook]

The Caverns of the Grave Ive seen
And these I shewd to Englands Queen
But now the Caves of Hell I view
Who shall I dare to shew them to
5What mighty Soul in Beautys form
Shall dauntless View the Infernal Storm
Egremonts Countess can controll
The flames of Hell that round me roll
If she refuse I still go on
10Till the Heavens & Earth are gone
Still admird by Noble minds
Followd by Envy on the winds
Reengravd Time after Time
Ever in their Youthful prime
15My Designs unchangd remain
Time may rage but rage in vain
For above Times troubled Fountains
On the Great Atlantic Mountains
In my Golden House on high
20There they Shine Eternally


I rose up at the dawn of day
Get thee away get thee away
Prayst thou for Riches away away
This is the Throne of Mammon grey

5 Said I this sure is very odd
I took it to be the Throne of God
For every Thing besides I have
It is only for Riches that I can crave

I have Mental Joy & Mental Health
10And Mental Friends & Mental wealth
Ive a Wife I love & that loves me
Ive all But Riches Bodily

I am in Gods presence night & day
And he never turns his face away
15The accuser of sins by my side does stand
And he holds my money bag in his hand

For my worldly things God makes him pay
And hed pay for more if to him I would pray
And so you may do the worst you can do
20Be assurd Mr Devil I wont pray to you

Then If for Riches I must not Pray
God knows I little of Prayers need say
So as a Church is known by its Steeple
If I pray it must be for other People

25He says if I do not worship him for a God
I shall eat coarser food & go worse shod
So as I dont value such things as these
You must do Mr Devil just as God please

________________________________________ [A Separate Manuscript]

A fairy skipd upon my knee t
Singing & dancing merrily
I said Thou thing of patches rings
Pins Necklaces & such like things
5Disguiser of the Female Form
Thou paltry gilded poisnous worm
Weeping he fell upon my thigh
And thus in tears did soft reply
Knowest thou not O Fairies Lord
10How much by us Contemnd Abhorrd
Whatever hides the Female form
That cannot bear the Mental storm
Therefore in Pity still we give
Our lives to make the Female live
15And what would turn into disease
We turn to what will joy & please t


[With Blake's Illustrations to Gray's Poems ]

Around the Springs of Gray my wild root weaves
Traveller repose & Dream among my leaves,


A little Flower grew in a lonely Vale
Its form was lovely but its colours. pale
One standing in the Porches of the Sun
When his Meridian Glories were begun
5Leapd from the steps of fire & on the grass
Alighted where this little flower was
With hands divine he movd the gentle Sod
And took the Flower up in its native Clod
Then planting it upon a Mountains brow
10'Tis your own fault if you dont flourish now



[The Pickering Manuscript]

There 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

5And 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 Hearts deep Core
10And it sticks in the deep Back bone
And no Smile that ever was smild
But only one Smile alone

That betwixt the Cradle & Grave
It only once Smild can be
15But when it once is Smild
Theres an end to all Misery


Three Virgins at the break of day
Whither young Man whither away
Alas for woe! alas for woe! t
They cry & tears for ever flow
5The one was Clothd in flames of firet
The other Clothd in iron wire t
The other Clothd in tears & sighs t
Dazling bright before my Eyes
They bore a Net of Golden twine
10To hang upon the Branches fine
Pitying I wept to see the woe t
That Love & Beauty undergo
To be consumd in burning Fires
And in ungratified Desires
15And in tears clothd Night & day
Melted all my Soul away
When they saw my Tears a Smile
That did Heaven itself beguile
Bore the Golden Net aloft
20As on downy Pinions soft t
Over the Morning of my Day t
Underneath the Net I stray
Now intreating Burning Fire t
Now intreating Iron Wire t
25Now intreating Tears & Sighs
O when will the morning rise t


I traveld thro' a Land of Men
A Land of Men & Women too
And heard & saw such dreadful things
As cold Earth wanderers never knew

5For 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
10He'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 & feet
15She cuts his heart out at his side
To make it feel both cold & heat

Her fingers number every Nerve
Just as a Miser counts his gold
She lives upon his shrieks & cries
20And 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

25He plants himself in all her Nerves
Just as a Husbandman his mould
And She becomes his dwelling place
And Garden fruitful Seventy fold

An aged Shadow soon he fades
30Wandring round an Earthly Cot
Full filled all with gems & gold
Which he by industry had got

And these are the gems of the Human Soul
The rubies & pearls of a lovesick eye
35The countless gold of the akeing heart
The martyrs groan & the lovers sigh

They are his meat they are his drink
He feeds the Beggar & the Poor
And the way faring Traveller
40For ever open is his door

His grief is their eternal joy
They make the roofs & walls to ring
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring

45And she is all of solid fire
And gems & 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
50If young or old or rich or poor
They soon drive out the aged Host
A Begger at anothers door

He wanders weeping far away
Untill some other take him in
55Oft blind & age-bent sore distrest
Untill 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
60The Garden & its lovely Charms

The Guests are scatterd thro' the land
For the Eye altering alters all
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball

65The Stars Sun Moon all shrink away
A desart vast without a bound
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desart all around

The honey of her Infant lips
70The bread & wine of her sweet smile
The wild game of her roving Eye
Does him to Infancy beguile

For as he eats & drinks he grows
Younger & younger every day
75And on the desart wild they both
Wander in terror & dismay

Like the wild Stag she flees away
Her fear plants many a thicket wild
While he pursues her night & day
80By various arts of Love beguild

By various arts of Love & Hate
Till the wide desart planted oer
With Labyrinths of wayward Love
Where roams the Lion Wolf & Boart

85Till he becomes a wayward Babe t
And she a weeping Woman Old t
Then many a Lover wanders here
The Sun & Stars are nearer rolld
The trees bring forth sweet Extacy
90To all who in the desart roam
Till many a City there is Built
And many a pleasant Shepherds home

But when they find the frowning Babe
Terror strikes thro the region wide
95They cry the Babe the Babe is Born
And flee away on Every side t

For who dare touch the frowning form
His arm is witherd to its root
Lions Boars Wolves all howling flee
100And every Tree does 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


Awake awake my little Boy
Thou wast thy Mothers only joy
Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep
Awake thy Father does thee keep
5O what Land is the Land of Dreams
What are its Mountains & what are its Streams
O Father I saw my Mother there
Among the Lillies by waters fair
Among the Lambs clothed in white
10She walkd 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 wanderd all Night in the Land of Dreams
15But tho calm & warm the Waters wide
I could not get to the other side

Father O Father what do we here
In this Land of unbelief & fear
The Land of Dreams is better far
520Above 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 & Maidens around her throng
And these are the words upon every tongue

5An Angel is here from the heavenly Climes
Or again does return the Golden times t
Her eyes outshine every brilliant ray
She opens her lips tis the Month of May

Mary moves in soft beauty & conscious delight
10To augment with sweet smiles all the joys of the Night
Nor once blushes to own to the rest of the Fair
That sweet Love & Beauty are worthy our care

In the Morning the Villagers rose with delight
And repeated with pleasure the joys of the night
15And Mary arose among Friends to be free
But no Friend from henceforward thou Mary shalt see

Some said she was proud some calld her a whore
And some when she passed by shut to the door
A damp cold came oer her her blushes all fled
20Her lillies & roses are blighted & shed

O why was I born with a different Face
Why was I not born like this Envious Race t
Why did Heaven adorn me with bountiful hand
And then set me down in an envious Land

25To be weak as a Lamb & smooth as a Dove
And not to raise Envy is calld Christian Love
But if you raise Envy your Merits to blame
For planting such spite in the weak & the tame

I will humble my Beauty I will not dress fine
30I will keep from the Ball & my Eyes shall not shine
And if any Girls Lover forsakes her for me
I'll refuse him my hand & from Envy be free t

She went out in Morning attird plain & neat
Proud Marys gone Mad said the Child in the Street
35She went out in Morning in plain neat attire
And came home in Evening bespatterd with mire

She trembled & wept sitting on the Bed side
She forgot it was Night & she trembled & cried
She forgot it was Night she forgot it was Morn
40Her soft Memory imprinted with Faces of Scorn

With Faces of Scorn & with Eyes of disdain
Like foul Fiends inhabiting Marys mild Brain
She remembers no Face like the Human Divine
All Faces have Envy sweet Mary but thine

45And thine is a Face of sweet Love in Despair
And thine is a Face of mild sorrow & care
And thine is a Face of wild terror & fear
That shall never be quiet till laid on its bier


The Maiden caught me in the Wild
Where I was dancing merrily
She put me into her Cabinet
And Lockd me up with a golden Key
5This Cabinet is formd of Gold
And Pearl & Crystal shining bright
And within it opens into a World
And a little lovely Moony Night t

Another England there I saw
10Another London with its Tower
Another Thames & other Hills
And another pleasant Surrey Bower

Another Maiden like herself
Translucent lovely shining clear
15Threefold each in the other closd
O what a pleasant trembling fear

O what a smile a threefold Smile
Filld me that like a flame I burnd
I bent to Kiss the lovely Maid
20And found a Threefold Kiss returnd

I strove to sieze the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame
But burst the Crystal Cabinet
And like a Weeping Babe became

25A weeping Babe upon the wild
And Weeping Woman pale reclind
And in the outward air again
I filld with woes the passing Wind


I die I die the Mother said
My Children die for lack of Bread t
What more has the merciless Tyrant said
The Monk sat down on the Stony Bed t

5The blood red ran from the Grey Monks side
His hands & feet were wounded wide
His Body bent his arms & knees
Like to the roots of ancient trees

His eye was dry no tear could flow
10A hollow groan first spoke his woe
He trembled & shudderd upon the Bedt
At length with a feeble cry he said

When God commanded this hand to write t
In the studious hours of deep midnight
15He told me the writing I wrote should provet
The Bane of all that on Earth I lovd t

My Brother starvd between two Walls
His Childrens Cry my Soul appalls
I mockd at the wrack & griding chain t
20My bent body mocks their torturing pain t

Thy Father drew his sword in the North
With his thousands strong he marched forth t
Thy Brother has armd himself in Steel t
To avenge the wrongs thy Children feel t

25But vain the Sword & vain the Bow
They never can work Wars overthrow
The Hermits Prayer & the Widows tear
Alone can free the World from fear

For a Tear is an Intellectual Thing t
30And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King
And the bitter groan of the Martyrs woe t
Is an Arrow from the Almighties Bow

The hand of Vengeance found the Bed t
To which the Purple Tyrant fled
35The iron hand crushd the Tyrants head
And became a Tyrant in his steadt


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

5A 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
10Predicts 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
15A 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
20Raises 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
25The 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
30Shall 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
35He 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
40For 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
45The 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
50Is the Artists jealousy
The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags
Are Toadstools on the Misers Bagst
A truth thats told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent
55It 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
60A 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
65Tools were made & Born were hands
Every Farmer Understands
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity
This is caught by Females bright
70And returnd 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
75The 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
80Than 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
85He 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
90Triumphs 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
95He 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
100Like 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
105The 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
110Theyd immediately Go out
To be in a Passion you Good may Do
But no Good if a Passion is in you
The Whore & Gambler by the State
Licencd build that Nations Fate
115The 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
120Some 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
125We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye t
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
130To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day


Little Mary Bell had a Fairy in a Nut t
Long John Brown had the Devil in his Gut
Long John Brown lovd Little Mary Bell
And the Fairy drew the Devil into the Nut-shell
5Her Fairy skipd out & her Fairy skipd in
He laughd at the Devil saying Love is a Sin
The devil he raged & the Devil he was wroth
And the devil enterd into the Young Mans broth
He was soon in the Gut of the loving Young Swain
10For John eat & drank to drive away Loves pain
But all he could do he grew thinner & thinner
Tho he eat & drank as much as ten Men for his dinner
Some said he had a Wolf in his stomach day & night
Some said he had the Devil & they guessd right
15The fairy skipd about in his glory Joy & Pride
And he laughd at the Devil till poor John Brown died
Then the Fairy skipd out of the old Nut shell
And woe & alack for Pretty Mary Bell
For the Devil crept in when The Fairy skipd out
20And there goes Miss Bell with her fusty old Nut


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

5He went to Church in a May morning
Attended by Fairies one two & three
But the Angels Of Providence drove them away
And he returnd home in Misery

He went not out to the Field nor Fold
10He went not out to the Village nor Town
But he came home in a black black cloud
And took to his Bed & there lay down

And an Angel of Providence at his Feet
And an Angel of Providence at his Head
15And 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 thro the black black Cloud
20To drive away the sick mans pain

O William if thou dost another Love t
Dost another Love better than poor Mary
Go & take that other to be thy Wife
And Mary Green shall her Servant be

25Yes 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
30And on thy Head is the cold Moons shine
But she is ruddy & bright as day
And the sun beams dazzle from her eyne

Mary trembled & Mary chilld
And Mary fell down on the right hand floor
35That William Bond & his Sister Jane
Scarce could recover Mary more

When Mary woke & found her Laid
On the Right hand of her William dear
On the Right hand of his loved Bed
40And 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

45I thought Love livd in the hot sun Shine
But O 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
50In the gentle relief of anothers care
In the darkness of night & the winters snow
In the naked & outcast Seek Love there


The sow came in with the saddle,
The little pig rocked the cradle,
The dish jumped o' top of the table
To see the brass pot swallow the ladle.
5The old pot behind the door
Called the kettle a blackamoor.
'Odd bobbs' said the gridiron, 'can't you agree?
I'm the head constable, bring them to me.'


  1. "Never pain to tell thy Love..." N 115 rev The poem developed out of the first four lines, and these were then deleted line by line. Editors are in agreement that the poem cannot stand without its first stanza—as Blake would surely have discovered if he had chosen to transfer it to copper. (Lines deleted in ms were restored in such poems as “Earth's Answer” [third stanza].)
    1 pain] seek 1st rdg del
    12 O was no deny] He took her with a sigh 1 st rdg del
  2. "I feard the fury of my wind..." N 113 rev
    1 fury] roughness 1st rdg del
    4 And] But 1st rdg del
  3. "I saw a chapel all of gold..." N 115 rev
    8 Down … tore) Till he broke the pearly door 1st rdg del
  4. "I laid me down upon a bank..." N 115 rev
  5. A cradle song N 114 rev
    Line 3 was written first, followed by 4, 1, and 2; after much revision these were rearranged by numbering in the present order.
    2 Dreaming oer] Thou shalt taste 1st rdg del
    4 Little sorrows sit & weep] Thou wilt every secret keep 1st rdg del; Canst thou any secret keep 2 nd rdg changed to Thou canst any Secret keep, then del
    An abortive 2nd stanza was begun but deleted: “Yet a little while the moon / Silent”
    Lines 5-8 were written as the 4th stanza, then numbered "2" when all stanzas were numbered in the final sequence.
    8 Little pretty infant wiles] Such as burning youth beguiles 1st rdg del
    9 feel] touch 1st rdg del; stroke 2nd rdg del
    10 steal] broke 1st rdg del
    17 From … eye] O the cunning wiles that creep 1st rdg del
    19 Infant … infant] Female … female 1 st rdg del
  6. "I asked a thief to steal me a peach..." N 114 rev Punctuation and line and stanza divisions follow the fair copy in Princeton University Library inscribed “W Blake / Lambeth / 1796”, the text of which is identical to final rdg in the Notebook (in which lines 5-6 were written as one and line 9 did not begin a new stanza).
    1 to steal] if he'd steal 1st rdg
    2 He turned] And he turnd 1st rdg del
    4 Holy] And holy 1st rdg del
    7 He] And he 1st rdg del
    8 And] And he 1st rdg del
    9 said] spoke 1st rdg del
    11 And twixt earnest & game 1st rdg ; … joke 2nd rdg, del
    12 He enjoyd the da[me] 1st rdg; … lady 2nd rdg
  7. To my Mirtle N 106 rev Salvaging unused lines from the “Infant Sorrow” stanzas of p 111 (see above, p 798), Blake first wrote down the “O how sick” couplet but then erased it before the ink was dry. He then copied the stanza numbered “1” and then canceled its second couplet, perhaps not before continuing with two more couplets from p 111 on the “bound-ground” rhyme:
    To a lovely mirtle bound
    Blossoms showring all around
    Like to dung upon the ground
    Underneath my mirtle bound
    He then canceled, selected, and rearranged lines to make the present poem, all that remains not lined through in the Notebook, and he gave it a title. (A similar process of reduction takes place with the “Fayette” lines. See below.)
  8. [To go] on 1 Plate Five poems are grouped here in accordance with Blake's penciled memorandum, on p 101 reversed (see text p 695). “Thou hast a lap full of seed” is included conjecturally: it seems to be the only current poem that would fit the title “Experiment”. No plate is extant containing these five poems; indeed none of these poems is lined through vertically to indicate transfer to a plate, except the “lap full” poem. "O lapwing thou fliest around the heath..." N 113 rev
  9. An answer to the parson N 103 rev
  10. Experiment. "Thou hast a lap full of seed..." N 111 rev
    5 Shall I] Oft Ive 1st rdg del
    6 turn] turnd 1st rdg del
    7 For] But 1st rdg del
    9 tearing] pulling 1st rdg del
  11. Riches N 103 rev 1 countless we 1st rdg del; count 2nd rdg del (the poet wavering between “wealth” and “countless”) 3 indolent] idle man 1st rdg del 4 secret] cunning 1st rdg del
  12. "If you trap the moment before its ripe..." N 105 rev 1 trap] catch 1st rdg del 4 You can] Youll 1st rdg
  13. Eternity N 105 rev 1 binds] Previous editors have wavered between “bends” and “binds”, but the dot on the i is visible in strong light (the whole poem is in pencil) to himself] himself to 1st rdg 3 who kisses] who just kisses 1st rdg 4 eternity's] an eternal 1st rdg del
  14. "I heard an Angel singing..." N 114 rev Second attempt at an “Experience” counterpart to “The Divine Image”; written after A Divine Image (which see); very faintly lined through vertically and abandoned for a quite different version, “The Human Abstract”, which became a Song of Experience. 3 Pity Peace] Pity & Peace 1st rdg 15 At his curse] Thus he sang & 1 st rdg del 17 Down] And down 1st rdg 19-20 And … Peace]
    And Mercy & Pity & Peace descended
    The Farmers were ruind & harvest was ended 1st rdg del
    And Mercy Pity & Peace
    Joyd at their increase
    With Povertys Increase
    Are 2nd rdg del
    And by distress increase
    Mercy Pity Peace 3rd rdg del
    By Misery to increase
    Mercy Pity Peace 4th rdg del
  15. "Silent Silent Night..." N 113 rev
  16. To Nobodaddy N 109 rev Lined through vertically, as if after copying, but not extant elsewhere. Title crowded in after composition; first written without the “To”. 2 Father] Man 1st rdg del Lines 9-10 were an afterthought, crowded in as one line. 10 females loud] feminine 1st rdg del
  17. "Are not the joys of morning sweeter..." ”N 109 rev Lined through vertically, but not extant elsewhere.
  18. "How came pride in Man..." N 107 rev Heavily deleted, and unfinished. Visually, the poem that immediately follows, “The Human Abstract” (see Songs of Experience), looks like a continuation of the same poem, the title being inserted later.
  19. How to know Love from DeceitN 107-106 rev Blake may only tentatively have considered these two stanzas, written on separate pages, as one poem; he added the title after composition and later deleted it. 3 Lawless] Always 1st rdg del 5 confind] inclind 1st rdg del 6 Lawful … refind] Modest prudish & confind 1st rdg del & refind] 2nd rdg del 7 To every thing but] Never is to 1st rdg del 8 And … mind] And chains & fetters every mind 1st rdg del
  20. The wild flowers song N 109, 107 rev The 2nd and 3rd stanzas were written first; the introductory stanza and explanatory title were written two pages later. Previous misreading of “fond” as “found” in line 5, 1st rdg, has obscured the original Innocence theme. 3 flower] thistle 1st rdg del 5 slept] was fond 1st rdg del
  21. Soft Snow Lined through vertically, but not extant elsewhere. 4 And … crime] Ah that sweet love should be thought a crime 1st rdg del
  22. Merlins prophecy N 106 rev
  23. "Why should I care for the men of thames..." N 113 rev Trace of an erased title, beginning with “T”—perhaps “Thames”; text is lined through vertically—perhaps when “chartered” was taken over to the “London” poem. 7 The Ohio shall … me] 8 go] long 1 st rdg del 8 go] long 1st rdg del
  24. Day N 105 rev Crossed out with a heavy vertical line, but not found elsewhere. 1 Sun] day 1st rdg del 4 bosom] ancles 1st rdg del
  25. "The sword sung on the barren heath..." N 105 revl
  26. "Abstinence sows sand all over..." N 105 rev 2 flaming hair mended (over what was probably only a bad scribble for the same two words)
  27. "In a wife I would desire..." N 105 rev
  28. Lacedemonian Instruction N 103 rev
  29. An old maid early eer I knew N 100 rev The two stanzas were written in reverse order but then numbered 2, 1.
  30. Soft deceit & Idleness These are Beautys sweetest dress] Line added, on p 103, after cancellation of an introductory question: “Which are beauties sweetest dress”. The poem began as question and answer, was changed to pure answer.
  31. "What is it men do in women require..." 1 in women] of women 1st rdg p 103 3 in men] of men 1st rdg p 103
  32. An ancient Proverb 3 that-------------] that place 1st rdg p 107; that man 2nd rdg p 1O7. (Was the long dash put in to avoid writing “palace”? See “London” line 12.) 4 Youll] Twill 1st rdg del, p 99
  33. The Kid N 105 rev &c] written over a capital D No further trace of the poem is found.
  34. "My Spectre around me night & day..." N 13, 12 Canceled stanzas b and c, with revisions and numbering, read:
    [Her]<Thy> weeping [She]<thou> shall neer give oer
    I sin against [her]<thee> more—& more
    [El]<And> never will from sin be free
    Till she forgives & comes to me
    [4] [<5>]
    Thou hast parted from my side
    Once thou wast a virgin bride
    Never shalt thou a [lover]<true love> find
    My Spectre follows thee Behind
    One and then another replacement was written for stanza b, thus (as numbered for various arrangements):
    [3] <4>
    1 When my Love did first begin
    2 Thou didst call that Love a Sin
    3 Secret trembling night & day
    4 Driving all my Loves away
    [[To]⟨In⟩ a dark cold winter night]
    A deep winter [night] dark <&> cold
    [Within my [loves] Heart]
    Within my heart thou didst unfold
    A Fathomless & boundless deep
    There we wander there we weep