s of ExperiIntroduction (Innocence)
Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:
“Pipe a song about a lamb!”
So I piped with merry chear.
“Piper, pipe that song again;”
So I piped, he wept to hear.
“Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy chear:”
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.
“Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.”
So he vanish’d from my sight,
And I pluck’d a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
And I stain’d the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.
Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, ; Future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walk’d among the ancient trees,
Calling the lapsed Soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might controll
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!
“O Earth, O Earth, return!
“Arise from out the dewy grass;
“Night is worn,
“And the morn
“Rises from the slumberous mass.
“Turn away no more;
“Why wilt thou turn away?
“The starry floor,
“The wat’ry shore,
“Is giv’n thee till the break of day.”
The Chimney Sweeper (Innocence)
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry “‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep ; in soot I sleep.
There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curl’d like a lamb’s back, was shav’d: so I said
“Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”
And so he was quiet ; that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping , he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned ; Jack,
Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black.
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open’d the coffins ; set them free;
The down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the Sun.
Then naked ; white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon the clouds and sport in the wind;
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father ; never want joy.
And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags ; our brushes to work.
Tho’ the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.
The Chimney Sweeper (Experience)
A little black thing among the snow,
Crying ”weep! ‘weep!’ in notes of woe!
“Where are thy father & mother? say?”
“They are both gone up to the church to pray.
“Because I was happy upon the heath,
“And smil’d among the winter’s snow,
“They clothed me in clothes of death,
“And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
“And because I am happy & dance & sing,
“They think they have done me no injury,
“And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King,
“Who make up a heaven of our misery.”
Infant Joy (Innocence)
“I have no name:
I am but two days old.”
What shall I call thee?
“I happy am,
Joy is my name.”
Sweet joy befall thee!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while,
Sweet joy befall thee!
Infant Sorrow (Experience)
My mother groan’d! My father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud:
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
Struggling in my father’s hands,
Striving against my swadling bands,
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mother’s breast.
The best-known work of the English poet and artist William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience employs the mediums of poetry and colored engraving in a series of visionary poems “shewing the two contrary states of the human soul.” Songs of Innocence (1789) was followed by Songs of Experience (1794), and the two were then combined. Written in simple lyrical form, as if they were children’s songs, the poems contrast an innocent view of life with a moreexperienced and, in some instances, a jaded one. Each poem is illustrated, and Blake occasionally pairs poems in the two groups by giving them the same title. What do these paired poems have in common, or rather, what do these poems lack in common to make them different; one poem is innocent, and one is experienced. What, in Blake’s mind