London

Here are two poems from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. I know that I’ve put them out of order as London is from Experience and Laughing Song from Innocence, but I wanted to end on a more cheerful note. I feel that I’ve been rather gloomy and it is Easter.

The Songs are probably Blakes most well known works, and they are indeed songs. There is at least one account of Blake sitting at the pianoforte playing and singing his Songs as music students took down notation. I’m guessing that they were students of Dr. Charles Burney. Unfortunately, the melodies for the Songs are lost. The Songs have come down as poetry, and they stand alone without their music.

London

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 Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s 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 Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new born Infants tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

Laughing Song

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing “Ha, Ha, He!”

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live & be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, Ha, He!”

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One thought on “London

  1. Pingback: The Parable of the Old Man and the Young Man | Uncle Frog

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