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William Blake (1757-1827)

Introduction to the Songs of Experience


              1Hear the voice of the Bard!
              2Who Present, Past, and Future, sees;
              3Whose ears have heard
              4The Holy Word
              5That walk'd among the ancient trees,

              6Calling the lapsed Soul,
              7And weeping in the evening dew;
              8That might control
              9The starry pole,
            10And fallen, fallen light renew!

            11"O Earth, O Earth, return!
            12Arise from out the dewy grass;
            13Night is worn,
            14And the morn
            15Rises from the slumberous mass.

            16Turn away no more;
            17Why wilt thou turn away?
            18The starry floor,
            19The wat'ry shore,
            20Is giv'n thee till the break of day."

Notes

4] Holy Word: Christ, who here, as in Milton's Paradise Lost, discovers the fall of Adam in Eden.

5] ancient trees: cf. Gen. 3: 8.

6] Soul: not Adam or Eve, but the female Earth (Heb. adamah) out of which Adam was made (Gen. 2: 7). It is the division of the human from the non-human world that for Blake is the essential aspect of the fall.

11] O Earth return!: cf. Jer. 22: 29 and Isa. 21: 12.

16] Turn away. The allusion is to the rotation of the spherical earth away from the light (cf. "Mad Song").

19] wat'ry shore: cf. Job 38: 11.


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: abaab


Other poems by William Blake