It would overcomplicate what's intended as a brief and modest introduction to trace the intricate relationship between Blake's two (interdependent) bodies of work, so I'll just note in passing what should be clear to anyone who's seen the travelling Tate exhibition, or better quality reproductions of the illuminated manuscripts: the general dull consensus (in the literary community primarily), that Blake's graphic work was serviceable but of secondary importance, simply won't stand up to careful examination--to careless examination, yes, otherwise how account for the number of sophisticated art generalists I talked to at the time who had seen the Tate exhibition in its temporary home at the AGO and still maintained that he was a major writer of course, but a minor artist whose work served well an illustrative function: so, no doubt, were Da Vinci and Michelangelo. What show did these people impose like a transparency over the visual field before them, to continue maintaining such blatant and resolute twaddle? Luckily, in this case a fixed persuasion that a thing is so will not make it so, not so long as some viewers at least have eyes to see.
In a memoir I read recently, a Canadian (expat British) editor and writer mentioned in passing what he was told (in undergraduate studies at Cambridge) was the one important thing always to remember about Blake: "He was a little potty." That's been remembered time and again, to a degree hugely detrimental to people's understanding of Blake or--dare I say it?--the world he illuminates in his writings, paintings and other graphic works. There's an innate resistance--partly individual, but to a much greater degree social--to vivid perceptions of common human experience that differ too much from "common sense"--whether it wears the scholar's or the fool's cap, consensus opinion scorns insights too much outside the normative, though oft-times aiming to have it both ways: loving the lyric passion of a spirited visionary, drawing back wherever it challenges too sharply the comfortable or uncomfortable body of received ideas one tends stubbornly to live and die by. Sure he was a powerful and beautiful visionary, especially wherever I don't have to encounter too precisely what he says he's seeing, but any time his perceptions threaten to reanimate the eye on our blind side. . . then the important thing to remember about Blake is that he was a little potty. (Blake's astounding powers of visualization practically compel people to this misdiagnosis if they wish to resist its impelling force.)
Robert Graves--normally far from an inastute observer--found evidence of paranoid schizophrenia in the wicked hyperbole of a satirical riposte to a minor German poet contemporary with Blake. (The poem's included in my selection, so you can weigh the evidence yourself. Suffice to say that if Blake believed that by twirling nine times after a nightsoil deposit at the boghouse he'd sent a wave of distraction that traversed the channel and half the continent of Europe to settle on Klopstock and further scatter his already-scantily- gathered wits, a spell he reversed out of pity by turning nine times in the reverse direction, he'd be suffering serious delusions. If, on the other hand, he was spinning an elaborate and earthy joke, he was no madder than any other satirist forging wild mocking fantasies within the heated furnace of the imagination. Odd that this point was lost on Graves--dotted throughout the Claudius books are passages of similarly extravagant humour.)
In so extreme a case as Antonin Artaud, whose progressively more unhappy derangement became inextricably linked to his insight and vision, the question of madness inevitably attends any estimate of the artist's significance, but in others where momentary derangement crosses the life path of creative originals, the question is of distinctly secondary interest (however schadenfreudian the clutter and buzz of speculation it accumulates in obscuring heaps). In the case of artists as reverberent and prophetically sane as Blake or Swift, the question is an impertinence, a small-minded imposition. The most engaging question about their writing is "When can I read some?", followed closely by "When can I read some more?" Let me make way, then, for a selection, far from comprehensive but a useful quick reminder for readers already familiar with Blake, a solid start on a voyage of discovery for those who aren't yet.
Does the Eagle know what is in the pit,
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?
Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod,
Or Love in a golden bowl?
The Eye altering alters all.
As a new heaven is begun, and it is now thirty-three years since its advent: the Eternal Hell revives. And lo! Swedenborg is the Angel sitting at the tomb; his writings are the linen clothes folded up. Now is the dominion of Edom, & the return of Adam into Paradise; see Isaiah XXXIV & XXXV Chap: Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence. From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.
[The Marriage of Heaven and Hell]
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.
"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.
The 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 & 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, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & 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 & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Then naked & 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 & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold,
Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
I love to rise in a summer morn
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me.
Oh, what sweet company!
But to go to school in a summer morn,
Oh! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn
The little ones spend the day In sighing and dismay.
Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour;
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning's bower,
Worn through with the dreary shower.
How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child, when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring?
O, father and mother, if buds are nipped
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are stripped
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care's dismay,
How shall the summer arise in joy,
Or the summer fruits appear?
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear?
Ifyou trap the moment before it's ripe,
The tears of repentance you'll certainly wipe;
But if once you let the ripe moment go,
You can never wipe offthe tears ofwoe.
'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.
The Little Vagabond
Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold,
But the Ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm;
Besides I can tell where I am use'd well,
Such usage in heaven will never do well.
But if at the Church they would give us some Ale.
And a pleasant fire, our souls to regale;
We'd sing and we'd pray, all the live-long day;
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray,
Then the Parson might preach & drink & sing.
And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring:
And modest dame Lurch, who is always at Church,
Would not have bandy children nor fasting nor birch.
The 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.
And all must love the human form
In heathen, turk or jew.
Where Mercy, Love and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.
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
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 Hearts deep Core
And 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
But when it once is Smild
Theres an end to all Misery
As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity. I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments. When I came home; on the abyss of the five senses, where a flat sided steep frowns over the present world. I saw a mighty Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock, with corroding fires he wrote the following sentence now percieved by the minds of men, & read by them on earth.
How do you know but ev'ry
Bird that cuts the airy way
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?
[from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell]
The terror answerd: I am Orc, wreath’d round the accursed tree:
The times are ended; shadows pass the morning gins to break;
The fiery joy, that Urizen perverted to ten commands,
What night he led the starry hosts thro’ the wide wilderness:
That stony law I stamp to dust: and scatter religion abroad
To the four winds as a torn book, & none shall gather the leaves;
But they shall rot on desart sands, & consume in bottomless deeps;
To make the desarts blossom, & the deeps shrink to their fountains,
And to renew the fiery joy, and burst the stony roof.
That pale religious letchery, seeking Virginity,
May find it in a harlot, and in coarse-clad honesty
The undefil’d tho’ ravish’d in her cradle night and morn:
For every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight can never be defil’d.
Fires inwrap the earthly globe, yet man is not consumd;
Amidst the lustful fires he walks: his feet become like brass,
His knees and thighs like silver, & his breast and head like gold.
They became what they beheld
"When Klopstock England defied"
Uprose terrible Blake in his pride
For old Nobodaddy aloft
Farted & Belchd & coughd
Then swore a great oath that made heavn quake
And calld aloud to English Blake
Blake was giving his body ease
At Lambeth beneath the poplar trees
From his seat then started he
And turnd himself round three times threet
The Moon at that sight blushd scarlet red
The stars threw down their cups & fled
And all the devils that were in hell
Answered with a ninefold yell
Klopstock felt the intripled turn
And all his bowels began to churn
And his bowels turned round three times three
And lockd in his soul with a ninefold key
That from his body it neer could be parted
Till to the last trumpet it was farted
Then again old nobodaddy swore
He neer had seen such a thing before
Since Noah was shut in the ark
Since Eve first chose her hell fire spark
Since twas the fashion to go naked
Since the old anything was created
And in pity he begd him to turn again
And ease poor Klopstocks nine fold pain
From pity then he redend round
And the ninefold Spell unwound
If Blake could do this when he rose up from shite
What might he not do if h'e 'sa't down to write
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.
The stolen and perverted writings of Homer and Ovid, of Plato and Cicero, which all men ought to contemn, are set up by artifice against the Sublime of the Bible; but when the New Age is at leisure to pronounce, all will be set right, and those grand works of the more ancient, and consciously and professedly Inspired men will hold their proper rank, and the Daughters of Memory shall become the Daughters of Inspiration. Shakspeare and Milton were both curb’d by the general malady and infection from the silly Greek and Latin slaves of the sword.
Rouse up, O Young Men of the New Age! Set your foreheads against the ignorant hirelings! For we have hirelings in the Camp, the Court, and the University, who would, if they could, for ever depress mental, and prolong corporeal war. Painters! on you I call. Sculptors! Architects! suffer not the fashionable fools to depress your powers by the prices they pretend to give for contemptible works, or the expensive advertising boasts that they make of such works: believe Christ and His Apostles that there is a class of men whose whole delight is in destroying. We do not want either Greek or Roman models if we are but just and true to our own Imaginations, those Worlds of Eternity in which we shall live forever, in Jesus our Lord.
AND did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
And God like a father rejoicing to see,
His children as pleasant and happy as he:
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the Barrel
But kiss him & give him both drink and apparel.
THE CAVERNS of the Grave I’ve seen,
And these I show’d to England’s Queen.
But now the Caves of Hell I view,
Who shall I dare to show them to?
What mighty soul in Beauty’s form
Shall dauntless view the infernal storm?
Egremont’s Countess can control
The flames of Hell that round me roll;
If she refuse, I still go on
Till the Heavens and Earth are gone,
Still admir’d by noble minds,
Follow’d by Envy on the winds,
Re-engrav’ d time after time,
Ever in their youthful prime,
My designs unchang’d remain.
Time may rage, but rage in vain.
For above Time’s troubled fountains,
On the great Atlantic Mountains,
In my Golden House on high,
There they shine eternally.
[from The Rossetti Manuscript]
Why ofthe sheep do you not learn peace?
Because I don't want you to shear my fleece.
A Memorable Fancy
An Angel came to me and said: 'O pitiable foolish young man! O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art going in such career.'
I said: 'perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your lot or mine is most desirable.'
So he took me thro' a stable & thro'a church & down into the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro' the mill we went, and came to a cave: down the winding cavern we groped our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appear'd beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this immensity; but I said, 'if you please we will commit ourselves to this void, and see whether providence is here also, if you will not, I will?' but he answer'd: 'do not presume, O young-man, but as we here remain, behold thy lot which will soon appear when the darkness passes away.'
So I remain'd with him, sitting in the twisted root of an oak; he was suspended in a fungus, which hung with the head downward into the deep.
By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance, was the sun, black but shining; round it were fiery tracks on which revolv'd vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew, or rather swum, in the infinite deep, in the most terrific shapes of animals sprung from corruption; & the air was full of them, & seem'd composed of them: these are Devils, and are called Powers of the air. I now asked my companion which was my eternal lot? he said, 'between the black & white spiders.'
But now, from between the black & white spiders, a cloud and fire burst and rolled thro' the deep black'ning all beneath, so that the nether deep grew black as a sea, & rolled with a terrible noise; beneath us was nothing now to be seen but a black tempest, till looking east between the clouds & the waves, we saw a cataract of blood mixed with fire, and not many stones' throw from us appear'd and sunk again the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent; at last, to the east, distant about three degrees appear'd a fiery crest above the waves; slowly it reared like a ridge of golden rocks, till we discover'd two globes of crimson fire, from which the sea fled away in clouds of smoke; and now we saw, it was the head of Leviathan; his forehead was divided into streaks of green & purple like those on a tyger's forehead: soon we saw his mouth & red gills hang just above the raging foam tinging the black deep with beams of blood, advancing toward us with all the fury of a spiritual existence.
My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill; I remain'd alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moonlight, hearing a harper who sung to the harp; & his theme was: 'The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.'
But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my Angel, who surprised, asked me how I escaped?
I answer'd: 'All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics; for when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you yours?' he laugh'd at my proposal; but I by force suddenly caught him in my arms, & flew westerly thro' the night, till we were elevated above the earth's shadow; then I flung myself with him directly into the body of the sun; here I clothed myself in white, & taking in my hand Swedenborg's, volumes sunk from the glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to saturn: here I staid to rest & then leap'd into the void, between saturn & the fixed stars.
'Here,' said I, 'is your lot, in this space, if space it may be call'd.' Soon we saw the stable and the church, & I took him to the altar and open'd the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses of brick; one we enter'd; in it were a number of monkeys, baboons, & all of that species, chain'd by the middle, grinning and snatching at one another, but witheld by the shortness of their chains: however, I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then the weak were caught by the strong, and with a grinning aspect, first coupled with, & then devour'd, by plucking off first one limb and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk; this after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devour'd too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoy'd us both, we went into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body, which in the mill was Aristotle's Analytics.
So the Angel said: 'thy phantasy has imposed upon me, & thou oughtest to be ashamed.'
I answer'd: 'we impose on one another, & it is but lost time to converse with you whose works are only Analytics.'
[from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell]
Nail his neck to the cross: nail it with a nail.
Nail his neck to the cross: ye all have power over his tail.
An Old Maid early ere I knew
Aught but the love that on me grew.
And now I’m cover’ do’er and o’er
And wish that I had been a whore.
Oh! I cannot, cannot find
The steadfast courage of a virgin mind;
For early I in love was cros’t
Before my flower of love was lost
The Chimney Sweeper
A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "'weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother? say"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.
"Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
"And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Grown old in love from seven
till seven times seven
I oft have wish’d for
Hell for ease from Heaven.
Let the Brothels of Paris be opened
With many an alluring dance
To awake the Physicians thro the city
Said the beautiful Queen of France
Then old Nobodaddy aloft
Farted & belchd & coughd
And said I love hanging & drawing & quartering
Every bit as well as war & slaughtering
Then he swore a great & solemn Oath
To kill the people I am loth
But If they rebel they must go to hell
They shall have a Priest & a passing bell
The King awoke on his couch of gold
As soon as he heard these tidings told
Arise & come both fife & drum
And the [Famine] shall eat both crust & crumb
The Queen of France just touchd this Globe
And the Pestilence darted from her robe
But our good Queen quite grows to the ground
And a great many suckers grow all around
The Mental Traveller
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 iron thorns around his head,
And pierces both his hands and feet,
And cuts his heart out of 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 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 pins her down for his delight.
He plants himself in all her nerves
Just as a husbandman his mould,
And she bcomes his dwelling-place
And garden, frutiful seventyfold.
An aged shadow soon he fades,
Wandering round and earthly cot,
Full filled 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 an aching heart,
The martyr’s groan, and the lover’s sigh.
They are his meat, they are his drink:
He feeds the beggar and the poor
And 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 on the hearth
A little female babe does 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 distressed,
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 senses roll themselves in fear,
And the flat 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 of her roving eye
Does 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 wide desert planted o’ er
With labyrinths of wayward love,
Where roams 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 ecstasy
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,
Lions, boars, wolves, all howling flee
And 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.
[from The Pickering Manuscript]
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.
A Poison Tree
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,
And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Why Was Cupid a Boy?
Why was Cupid a boy,
And why a boy was he?
He should have been a girl,
For aught that I can see.
For he shoots with his bow,
And the girl shoots with her eye,
And they both are merry and glad,
And laugh when we do cry.
And to make Cupid a boy
Was the Cupid girl's mocking plan;
For a boy can't interpret the thing
Till he is become a man.
And then he's so pierc'd with cares,
And wounded with arrowy smarts,
That the whole business of his life
Is to pick out the heads of the darts.
'Twas the Greeks' love of war
Turn'd Love into a boy,
And woman into a statue of stone--
And away fled every joy.
The Human Abstract
Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody Poor;
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.
And mutual fear brings peace,
Till the selfish loves increase:
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.
He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the grounds with tears;
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.
Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the Catterpiller and
Fly Feed on the Mystery.
And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat;
And the Raven his nest has made
n its thickest shade.
The Gods of the earth and sea
Sought thro' Nature to find this Tree;
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the Human Brain.
Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy.
Nor his accepted brethren, whom, tyrant, he calls free: lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that wishes but acts not!
For every thing that lives is Holy.
[from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell]
Please to pay for me my best thanks to Miss Poole tell her that I wish her a continued Excess of Happiness--some say that Happiness is not Good for Mortals & they ought to be answerd that Sorrow is not fit for Immortals and is utterly useless to any one a blight never does good to a tree & if a blight kill not a tree but it still bear fruit let none say the fruit was in consequence of the blight.
[from a letter to William Hayley]