Songs of Innocence, and Songs of Experience by William Blake

SONGS OF INNOCENCE
and
SONGS OF EXPERIENCE

BY WILLIAM BLAKE

 

londonr. brimley johnson.
guildforda. c. curtis.

mdcccci.

CONTENTS

SONGS OF INNOCENCE

 

Page

Introduction

1

The Shepherd

3

The Echoing Green

4

The Lamb

6

The Little Black Boy

7

The Blossom

9

The Chimney-Sweeper

10

The Little Boy Lost

12

The Little Boy Pound

13

Laughing Song

14

A Cradle Song

15

The Divine Image

17

Holy Thursday

19

Night

20

Spring

23

Nurse’s Song

25

Infant Joy

26

A Dream

27

On Another’s Sorrow

29

SONGS OF EXPERIENCE

Introduction

33

Earth’s Answer

35

The Clod and the Pebble

37

Holy Thursday

38

The Little Girl Lost

39

The Little Girl Found

42

The Chimney-Sweeper

45

Nurse’s Song

46

The Sick Rose

47

The Fly

48

The Angel

50

The Tiger

51

My Pretty Rose-Tree

53

Ah, Sunflower

54

The Lily

55

The Garden of Love

56

The Little Vagabond

57

London

58

The Human Abstract

59

Infant Sorrow

61

A Poison Tree

62

A Little Boy Lost

63

A Little Girl Lost

65

A Divine Image

67

A Cradle Song

68

The Schoolboy

69

To Tirzah

71

The Voice of the Ancient Bard

72

p. 1SONGS OF INNOCENCE

INTRODUCTION

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!’
   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!’
So I sung the same again,
   While he wept with joy to hear.

p. 2‘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.

p. 3THE SHEPHERD

How sweet is the shepherd’s sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be fillèd with praise.

For he hears the lambs’ innocent call,
And he hears the ewes’ tender reply;
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their shepherd is nigh.

p. 4THE 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.’

p. 5Till the little ones, weary,
No more can be merry:
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sport no more seen
On the darkening green.

p. 6THE LAMB

   Little lamb, who made thee?
   Does thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
   Little lamb, who made thee?
   Does thou know who made thee?

   Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;
   Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is callèd by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are callèd by His name.
   Little lamb, God bless thee!
   Little lamb, God bless thee!

p. 7THE 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,
   And, sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissèd me,
   And, pointing to the East, began to say:

‘Look on the rising sun: there God does live,
   And gives His light, and gives His heat away,
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
   Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

p. 8‘For, when our souls have learned 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.”’

Thus did my mother say, and kissed 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
   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.

p. 9THE BLOSSOM

Merry, merry sparrow!
Under leaves so green
A happy blossom
Sees you, swift as arrow,
Seek your cradle narrow,
Near my bosom.
Pretty, pretty robin!
Under leaves so green
A happy blossom
Hears you sobbing, sobbing,
Pretty, pretty robin,
Near my bosom.

p. 10THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘Weep! weep! weep! weep!’
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved; so I said,
‘Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’

And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight!—
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

p. 11Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind:
And the angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm:
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

p. 12THE LITTLE BOY LOST

‘Father, father, where are you going?
   O do not walk so fast!
   Speak, father, speak to your little boy,
Or else I shall be lost.’

The night was dark, no father was there,
   The child was wet with dew;
The mire was deep, and the child did weep,
   And away the vapour flew.

p. 13THE LITTLE BOY FOUND

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
   Led by the wandering light,
   Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,
Appeared like his father, in white.

He kissed the child, and by the hand led,
   And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, through the lonely dale,
   Her little boy weeping sought.

p. 14LAUGHING SONG

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing ‘Ha ha he!’

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha ha he!’

p. 15A CRADLE SONG

Sweet dreams, form a shade
O’er my lovely infant’s head!
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams!

Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown!
Sweet Sleep, angel mild,
Hover o’er my happy child!

Sweet smiles, in the night
Hover over my delight!
Sweet smiles, mother’s smiles,
All the livelong night beguiles.

Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes!
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.

p. 16Sleep, sleep, happy child!
All creation slept and smiled.
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
While o’er thee thy mother weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:

Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
Thou His image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee!

Smiles on thee, on me, on all,
Who became an infant small;
Infant smiles are His own smiles;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles.

p. 17THE DIVINE IMAGE

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
   All pray in their distress,
   And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
   Is God our Father dear;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
   Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart;
   Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine:
   And Peace the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
   That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine:
   Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

p. 18And all must love the human form,
   In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
   There God is dwelling too.

p. 19HOLY THURSDAY

’Twas 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.

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

 

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