These are the Idiots chiefest arts

Blake manuscript - Notebook 1808 - 47-49 Swelld limbs... etc.

Edited text:[1]Edit

* * *

THESE are the idiots’ chiefest arts:
To blend and not define the parts
The swallow sings,[2] in courts of kings,
That fools have their high finishings.

5 And this the princes’ golden rule,
The laborious stumble of a fool.
To make out the parts is the wise man’s aim,
But to loose them the fool makes his foolish game.


The original text:[3]Edit

* * *

These are the Idiots chiefest artst
To blend & not define the Parts
The Swallow sings in Courts of Kings
That Fools have their high finishings
5And this the Princes golden rule
The Laborious stumble of a Fool
To make out the parts is the wise mans aim
But to lose them the Fool makes his foolish Game



  1. The Poetical Works of William Blake, including the unpublished French Revolution together with the Minor Prophetic Books and Selections from The Four Zoas, Milton & Jerusalem; edited with an introduction and textual notes by John Sampson, Hon. D.Litt. Oxon., 1862–1931. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1908.
  2. 3 The swallow sings] Let it be told MS. 1st rdg. del.
  3. "The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake", ed. by David V. Erdman, Anchor Books, 1988, p. 513.

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.