Representative Poetry Online
  Poet Index   Poem Index   Random   Search  
  Introduction   Timeline   Calendar   Glossary   Criticism   Bibliography  
  RPO   Canadian Poetry   UTEL  
by Name
by Date
by Title
by First Line
by Last Line
Short poem

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."


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