Poems by William Blake

To the Muses

WHETHER on Ida's shady brow 
Or in the chambers of the East  
The chambers of the Sun that now 
From ancient melody have ceased; 

Whether in heaven ye wander fair 5 
Or the green corners of the earth  
Or the blue regions of the air 
Where the melodious winds have birth; 

Whether on crystal rocks ye rove  
Beneath the bosom of the sea 10 
Wandering in many a coral grove; 
Fair Nine forsaking Poetry; 

How have you left the ancient love 
That bards of old enjoy'd in you! 
The languid strings do scarcely move 15 
The sound is forced the notes are few. 

To Spring

O THOU with dewy locks who lookest down 
Through the clear windows of the morning turn 
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle  
Which in full choir hails thy approach O Spring! 

The hills tell one another and the listening 5 
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd 
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth 
And let thy holy feet visit our clime! 

Come o'er the eastern hills and let our winds 
Kiss thy perfum¨¨d garments; let us taste 10 
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls 
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee. 

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour 
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put 
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head 15 
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee. 


MY silks and fine array  
My smiles and languish'd air  
By Love are driven away; 
And mournful lean Despair 
Brings me yew to deck my grave: 5 
Such end true lovers have. 

His face is fair as heaven 
When springing buds unfold: 
O why to him was 't given  
Whose heart is wintry cold? 10 
His breast is Love's all-worshipp'd tomb  
Where all Love's pilgrims come. 

Bring me an axe and spade  
Bring me a winding-sheet; 
When I my grave have made 15 
Let winds and tempests beat: 
Then down I'll lie as cold as clay: 
True love doth pass away! 

Reeds of Innocence

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!' 5 
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!' 10 
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 vanish'd from my sight; 15 
And I pluck'd a hollow reed  

And I made a rural pen  
And I stain'd the water clear  
And I wrote my happy songs 
Every child may joy to hear. 20 

The 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, 5 
And, sitting down before the heat of day, 
She took me on her lap and kiss¨¨d me, 
And, pointing to the East, began to say: 

'Look at the rising sun: there God does live, 
And gives His light, and gives His heat away, 10 
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 15 
Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove. 

'For when our souls have learn'd 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."' 20 

Thus did my mother say, and kiss¨¨d 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 25 
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. 

Hear the Voice

HEAR the voice of the Bard  
Who present past and future sees; 
Whose ears have heard 
The Holy Word 
That walk'd among the ancient trees; 5 

Calling the laps¨¨d soul  
And weeping in the evening dew; 
That might control 
The starry pole  
And fallen fallen light renew! 10 

'O Earth O Earth return! 
Arise from out the dewy grass! 
Night is worn  
And the morn 
Rises from the slumbrous mass. 15 

'Turn away no more; 
Why wilt thou turn away? 
The starry floor  
The watery shore  
Is given thee till the break of day.' 20 

The Tiger

TIGER tiger burning bright 
In the forests of the night  
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies 5 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand dare seize the fire? 

And what shoulder and what art 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 10 
And when thy heart began to beat  
What dread hand and what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain? 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? What dread grasp 15 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears  
And water'd heaven with their tears  
Did He smile His work to see? 
Did He who made the lamb make thee? 20 

Tiger tiger burning bright 
In the forests of the night  
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? 

Cradle Song

SLEEP sleep beauty bright  
Dreaming in the joys of night; 
Sleep sleep; in thy sleep 
Little sorrows sit and weep. 

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

As thy softest limbs I feel 
Smiles as of the morning steal 10 
O'er thy cheek and o'er thy breast 
Where thy little heart doth rest. 

O the cunning wiles that creep 
In thy little heart asleep! 
When thy little heart doth wake 15 
Then the dreadful night shall break. 


THE sun descending in the west  
The evening star does shine; 
The birds are silent in their nest. 
And I must seek for mine. 
The moon like a flower 5 
In heaven's high bower  
With silent delight 
Sits and smiles on the night. 

Farewell green fields and happy grove  
Where flocks have took delight: 10 
Where lambs have nibbled silent move 
The feet of angels bright; 
Unseen they pour blessing 
And joy without ceasing 
On each bud and blossom 15 
And each sleeping bosom. 

They look in every thoughtless nest 
Where birds are cover'd warm; 
They visit caves of every beast  
To keep them all from harm: 20 
If they see any weeping 
That should have been sleeping  
They pour sleep on their head  
And sit down by their bed. 

When wolves and tigers howl for prey 25 
They pitying stand and weep  
Seeking to drive their thirst away 
And keep them from the sheep. 
But if they rush dreadful  
The angels most heedful 30 
Receive each mild spirit  
New worlds to inherit. 

And there the lion's ruddy eyes 
Shall flow with tears of gold: 
And pitying the tender cries 35 
And walking round the fold: 
Saying 'Wrath by His meekness  
And by His health sickness  
Are driven away 
From our immortal day. 40 

'And now beside thee bleating lamb  
I can lie down and sleep  
Or think on Him who bore thy name  
Graze after thee and weep. 
For wash'd in life's river 45 
My bright mane for ever 
Shall shine like the gold 
As I guard o'er the fold.' 

Love's Secret

NEVER seek to tell thy love  
Love that never told can be; 
For the gentle wind doth move 
Silently invisibly. 

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

Soon after she was gone from me  
A traveller came by 10 
Silently invisibly: 
He took her with a sigh.