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Short poem

William Blake (1757-1827)

Earth's Answer

              1Earth rais'd up her head
              2From the darkness dread and drear.
              3Her light fled,
              4Stony dread!
              5And her locks cover'd with grey despair.

              6"Prison'd on wat'ry shore,
              7Starry Jealousy does keep my den:
              8Cold and hoar,
              9Weeping o'er,
            10I hear the Father of the ancient men.

            11Selfish father of men!
            12Cruel, jealous, selfish fear!
            13Can delight,
            14Chain'd in night,
            15The virgins of youth and morning bear?

            16Does spring hide its joy
            17When buds and blossoms grow?
            18Does the sower
            19Sow by night,
            20Or the plowman in darkness plow?

            21Break this heavy chain
            22That does freeze my bones around.
            23Selfish! vain!
            24Eternal bane!
            25That free Love with bondage bound."


7] Starry Jealousy. The stars represent the exile of Earth from Heaven, often thought of as in the stars. There is also an allusion to the myth of Argus and Io.

10] Father: not God but the old man in the sky represented in Blake's symbolism as Urizen (see note on "The Book of Urizen" below).

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, Songs of Experience (1794). Blake's Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman (Princeton, NJ: William Blake Trust; London: Tate Gallery, 1991-). See Vol. 2. PR 4142 B46 1991 ROBA.
First publication date: 1794
RPO poem editor: Northrop Frye
RP edition: 3RP 2.281.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Rhyme: mainly abaab

Other poems by William Blake