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William Blake (1757-1827)

The Little Vagabond


              1  Dear mother, dear mother, the church is cold,
              2But the ale-house is healthy and pleasant and warm;
              3Besides I can tell where I am used well,
              4Such usage in Heaven will never do well.

              5  But if at the church they would give us some ale,
              6And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,
              7We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,
              8Nor ever once wish from the church to stray.

              9  Then the parson might preach, and drink, and sing,
            10And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring;
            11And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church,
            12Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

            13  And God, like a father rejoicing to see
            14His children as pleasant and happy as he,
            15Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,
            16But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.


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: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP 2.804.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Rhyme: aabb


Other poems by William Blake