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Short poem

William Blake (1757-1827)


              1I wander thro' each charter'd street,
              2Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
              3And mark in every face I meet
              4Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

              5In every cry of every Man,
              6In every Infant's cry of fear,
              7In every voice, in every ban,
              8The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

              9How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
            10Every black'ning Church appalls;
            11And the hapless Soldier's sigh
            12Runs in blood down Palace walls.

            13But most thro' midnight streets I hear
            14How the youthful Harlot's curse
            15Blasts the new born Infant's tear,
            16And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.


1] charter'd. Blake first wrote "dirty", then "cheating"; the word may be an ironic allusion to "Rule Britannia."

8] mind-forg'd manacles. Blake's original version, "German forged links", perhaps reflects popular resentment at the presence of Hessian and other German mercenaries in the city.

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 2.284.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Form: Long Hymnal Measure
Rhyme: abab

Other poems by William Blake