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William Blake (1757-1827)

Silent, Silent Night


              1Silent, silent Night
              2Quench the holy light
              3Of thy torches bright.

              4For possess'd of Day
              5Thousand spirits stray
              6That sweet joys betray.

              7Why should joys be sweet
              8Used with deceit
              9Nor with sorrows meet?

            10But an honest joy
            11Does itself destroy
            12For a harlot coy.

Notes

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 2.288.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Rhyme: aaa


Other poems by William Blake