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Short poem

William Blake (1757-1827)

Mad Song

              1The wild winds weep
              2      And the night is a-cold;
              3Come hither, Sleep,
              4      And my griefs infold:
              5But lo! the morning peeps
              6      Over the eastern steeps,
              7And the rustling birds of dawn
              8The earth do scorn.

              9Lo! to the vault
            10      Of paved heaven,
            11With sorrow fraught
            12      My notes are driven:
            13They strike the ear of night,
            14      Make weep the eyes of day;
            15They make mad the roaring winds,
            16      And with tempests play.

            17Like a fiend in a cloud,
            18      With howling woe,
            19After night I do crowd,
            20      And with night will go;
            21I turn my back to the east,
            22From whence comforts have increas'd;
            23For light doth seize my brain
            24With frantic pain.


1] This was first published in Poetical Sketches, a collection of Blake's juvenile poetry, printed by private subscription in 1783. This song is said on contemporary authority to have been written by Blake at about the age of fourteen. The 1783 edition has "unfold" in line 4 and "beds" in line 7: the readings here are from corrections made on early copies in Blake's handwriting.

9] vault. The madman thinks of nature as an imprisoning tomb.

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, Poetical Sketches (London, 1783). D-10 1987 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1783
RPO poem editor: Northrop Frye
RP edition: 3RP 2.275.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Rhyme: ababcdcd

Other poems by William Blake