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London

By William Blake
I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

The Sick Rose
By William Blake
O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

The Lamb
By William Blake
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
The Divine Image
By William Blake
To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

The Tyger
By William Blake
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Clod and the Pebble
By William Blake
"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite."

The Chimney Sweeper: A little black thing
among the snow
By William Blake
A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and 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 the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and
King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."

The Chimney Sweeper: When my mother
died I was very young
By William Blake
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 curled like a lamb's back, was shaved, 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 locked up in coffins of black;

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then 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 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.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy &
warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.


Summary
The speaker, addressing a rose, informs it that it is sick. An invisible worm has stolen into
its bed in a howling storm and under the cover of night. The dark secret love of this worm
is destroying the roses life.
Form
The two quatrains of this poem rhyme ABCB. The ominous rhythm of these short, two-
beat lines contributes to the poems sense of foreboding or dread and complements the
unflinching directness with which the speaker tells the rose she is dying.
Commentary
While the rose exists as a beautiful natural object that has become infected by a worm, it
also exists as a literary rose, the conventional symbol of love. The image of the worm
resonates with the Biblical serpent and also suggests a phallus. Worms are
quintessentially earthbound, and symbolize death and decay. The bed into which the
worm creeps denotes both the natural flowerbed and also the lovers bed. The rose is
sick, and the poem implies that love is sick as well. Yet the rose is unaware of its
sickness. Of course, an actual rose could not know anything about its own condition, and
so the emphasis falls on the allegorical suggestion that it is love that does not recognize
its own ailing state. This results partly from the insidious secrecy with which the
worm performs its work of corruptionnot only is it invisible, it enters the bed at
night. This secrecy indeed constitutes part of the infection itself. The crimson joy of
the rose connotes both sexual pleasure and shame, thus joining the two concepts in a
way that Blake thought was perverted and unhealthy. The roses joyful attitude toward
love is tainted by the aura of shame.
The Human Abstract

Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor:
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we;

And mutual fear brings peace;
Till the selfish loves increase.
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears:
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the Catterpiller and Fly,
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat;
And the Raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the earth and sea,
Sought thro Nature to find this Tree
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the Human Brain

Summary
The speaker wanders through the streets of London and comments on his observations. He
sees despair in the faces of the people he meets and hears fear and repression in their
voices. The woeful cry of the chimney-sweeper stands as a chastisement to the Church, and
the blood of a soldier stains the outer walls of the monarchs residence. The nighttime holds
nothing more promising: the cursing of prostitutes corrupts the newborn infant and sullies
the Marriage hearse.
Form
The poem has four quatrains, with alternate lines rhyming. Repetition is the most striking
formal feature of the poem, and it serves to emphasize the prevalence of the horrors the
speaker describes.
Commentary The opening image of wandering, the focus on sound,
and the images of stains in this poems first lines recall the Introduction to Songs of
Innocence, but with a twist; we are now quite far from the piping, pastoral bard of the
earlier poem: we are in the city. The poems title denotes a specific geographic space, not the
archetypal locales in which many of the other Songs are set. Everything in this urban
spaceeven the natural River Thamessubmits to being charterd, a term which
combines mapping and legalism. Blakes repetition of this word (which he then tops with
two repetitions of mark in the next two lines) reinforces the sense of stricture the speaker
feels upon entering the city. It is as if language itself, the poets medium, experiences a
hemming-in, a restriction of resources. Blakes repetition, thudding and oppressive, reflects
the suffocating atmosphere of the city. But words also undergo transformation within this
repetition: thus mark, between the third and fourth lines, changes from a verb to a pair of
nounsfrom an act of observation which leaves some room for imaginative elaboration, to
an indelible imprint, branding the peoples bodies regardless of the speakers actions.
Ironically, the speakers meeting with these marks represents the experience closest to a
human encounter that the poem will offer the speaker. All the speakers subjectsmen,
infants, chimney-sweeper, soldier, harlotare known only through the traces they leave
behind: the ubiquitous cries, the blood on the palace walls. Signs of human suffering abound,
but a complete human formthe human form that Blake has used repeatedly in the Songs to
personify and render natural phenomenais lacking. In the third stanza the cry of the
chimney-sweep and the sigh of the soldier metamorphose (almost mystically) into soot on
church walls and blood on palace wallsbut we never see the chimney-sweep or the soldier
themselves. Likewise, institutions of powerthe clergy, the governmentare rendered by
synecdoche, by mention of the places in which they reside. Indeed, it is crucial to Blakes
commentary that neither the citys victims nor their oppressors ever appear in body: Blake
does not simply blame a set of institutions or a system of enslavement for the citys woes;
rather, the victims help to make their own mind-forgd manacles, more powerful than
material chains could ever be.
The poem climaxes at the moment when the cycle of misery recommences, in the form of a
new human being starting life: a baby is born into poverty, to a cursing, prostitute mother.
Sexual and marital unionthe place of possible regeneration and rebirthare tainted by the
blight of venereal disease. Thus Blakes final image is the Marriage hearse, a vehicle in
which love and desire combine with death and destruction.