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Short poem

William Blake (1757-1827)

Never Seek to Tell thy Love

              1Never seek to tell thy love
              2Love that never told can be;
              3For the gentle wind does move
              4Silently, invisibly.

              5I told my love, I told my love,
              6I told her all my heart,
              7Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears--
              8Ah, she doth depart.

              9Soon as she was gone from me
            10A traveller came by
            11Silently, invisibly--
            12O, was no deny.


1] This was first published in 1863 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his edition of Blake's poems, which formed the second volume of Alexander Gilchrist's posthumous Life of William Blake. It was edited from a notebook in Rossetti's possession, now known as the Rossetti MS., containing a great number of sketches, draft poems, polemical prose, and miscellaneous writings, which Blake kept by him for many years. As the only textual authority for many of these poems is a foul draft, some of them are partly editorial reconstructions. Thus in the notebook the first stanza of "Never seek to tell thy love" has been marked for deletion, and "seek" has been altered to "pain," while the final quatrain of "I heard an Angel singing" is an editorial arrangement first made by Swinburne.

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, Poems, ed. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1863).
First publication date: 1863
RPO poem editor: Northrop Frye
RP edition: 3RP 2.289.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Composition date: 1793
Form: Long Measure
Rhyme: abcb

Other poems by William Blake