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Short poem

William Blake (1757-1827)

Auguries of Innocence


              1To see a world in a grain of sand
              2And a heaven in a wild flower,
              3Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
              4And eternity in an hour.

              5A robin redbreast in a cage
              6Puts all Heaven in a rage.
              7A dove house fill'd with doves and pigeons
              8Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
              9A dog starv'd at his master's gate
            10Predicts the ruin of the state.
            11A horse misus'd upon the road
            12Calls to Heaven for human blood.
            13Each outcry of the hunted hare
            14A fibre from the brain does tear.
            15A skylark wounded in the wing,
            16A Cherubim does cease to sing.
            17The game cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight
            18Does the rising Sun affright.
            19Every wolf's and lion's howl
            20Raises from Hell a human soul.


            89He who respects the infant's faith
            90Triumphs over Hell and Death.
            91The child's toys and the old man's reasons
            92Are the fruits of the two seasons.
            93The questioner, who sits so sly,
            94Shall never know how to reply.
            95He who replies to words of doubt
            96Doth put the light of Knowledge out.
            97The strongest poison ever known
            98Came from Caesar's laurel crown,
            99Nought can deform the human race
          100Like to the armour's iron brace.
          101When gold and gems adorn the plow
          102To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.
          103A riddle or the cricket's cry
          104Is to doubt a fit reply.
          105The emmet's inch and eagle's mile
          106Make lame Philosophy to smile.
          107He who doubts from what he sees
          108Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
          109If the Sun and Moon should doubt,
          110They'd immediately go out.
          111To be in a passion you good may do,
          112But no good if a passion is in you.
          113The whore and gambler, by the state
          114Licens'd, build that nation's fate.
          115The harlot's cry from street to street,
          116Shall weave Old England's winding sheet.
          117The winner's shout, the loser's curse,
          118Dance before dead England's hearse.
          119Every night and every morn
          120Some to misery are born.
          121Every morn and every night
          122Some are born to sweet delight.
          123Some are born to sweet delight,
          124Some are born to endless night.
          125We are led to believe a lie
          126When we see not thro' the eye
          127Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
          128When the Soul slept in beams of light.
          129God appears and God is light
          130To those poor souls who dwell in night,
          131But does a human form display
          132To those who dwell in realms of day.


1] This poem was first published by Rossetti in his edition in Gilchrist's Life of William Blake, 1863. It was edited from a MS. in fair draft written by Blake probably during his stay at Felpham (1800-3), and later known as the Pickering MS., from a Mr. B. J. Pickering who bought it and published an edition of it, more accurate than Rossetti's, in 1866.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Blake, Poems, ed. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1863).
First publication date: 1863
RPO poem editor: Northrop Frye
RP edition: 3RP 2.293.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Composition date: 1800 - 1803
Composition date note: ca. 1800-03
Rhyme: abab and couplets

Other poems by William Blake