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William Blake (1757-1827)

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

(excerpt)


Proverbs of Hell
              1  In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
              2Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
              3The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
              4Prudence is a rich, ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
              5He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
              6The cut worm forgives the plow.
              7Dip him in the river who loves water.
              8A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
              9He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
            10Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
            11The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
            12The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock; but of wisdom, no clock can measure.
            13All wholesome food is caught without a net or a trap.
            14Bring out number, weight and measure in a year of dearth.
            15No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
            16A dead body revenges not injuries.
            17The most sublime act is to set another before you.
            18If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
            19Folly is the cloak of knavery.
            20Shame is Pride's cloke.
            21Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion.
            22The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
            23The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
            24The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
            25The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
            26Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
            27The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity, too great for the eye of man.
            28The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
            29Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.
            30Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep.
            31The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
            32The selfish, smiling fool, and the sullen, frowning fool shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod.
            33What is now proved was once only imagin'd.
            34The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant watch the fruits.
            35The cistern contains: the fountain overflows.
            36One thought fills immensity.
            37Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
            38Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth.
            39The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
            40The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion.
            41Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
            42He who has suffer'd you to impose on him, knows you.
            43As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.
            44The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
            45Expect poison from the standing water.
            46You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
            47Listen to the fool's reproach! it is a kingly title!
            48The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth.
            49The weak in courage is strong in cunning.
            50The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow; nor the lion, the horse, how he shall take his prey.
            51The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.
            52If others had not been foolish, we should be so.
            53The soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd.
            54When thou seest an eagle, thou seest a portion of genius; lift up thy head!
            55As the caterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
            56To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
            57Damn braces. Bless relaxes.
            58The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.
            59Prayers plow not! Praises reap not!
            60Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not!
            61The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands and feet Proportion.
            62As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.
            63The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl that every thing was white.
            64Exuberance is Beauty.
            65If the lion was advised by the fox, he would be cunning.
            66Improvement makes strait roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.
            67Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.
            68Where man is not, nature is barren.
            69Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd.
            70Enough! or too much.


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, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Facsimile edn. London: Dent, 1927. PR 4144 M3 1927 ROBA
First publication date: 1793
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP 1.810.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14*1:2003/7/30

Form note: unrhymed


Other poems by William Blake