Графични страници
PDF файл

least lovely, of his poems have been disinterred from a notebook and memoranda accessible during his life to no eyes but his own. When by a spontaneous instinct he propounded a question in verse, he hoped for an answer from himself alone. Certainly his countrymen acted as if they so understood him. As if aware that he was not addressing them, they left him with his riddles to himself. If some of these are fascinatingly sweet and deliciously simple, it is not to be supposed that he had any thought of attracting thus popular attention. To him they were as curiously difficult as the most complex. In The Lamb he puts a question for a child to answer. Five years later, asking a second, in The Tiger, he intimates that on the reply hangs the balance of Heaven and Earth. The same theme has for him manifold phases. A song on it at one period plays as softly as a moonbeam; another on it becomes a lightning arrow flashing into the heart's recesses. The marvel is how the poetic spirit, while loyally striving to marshal and smooth out the inequalities of the universe, flutes on its pastoral pipe with the careless melody of a shepherd in Arcady.

In contradiction to that which might be supposed to be the natural order, art among poets often precedes passion. Accordingly Blake in the Poetical Sketches, written between the ages of eleven and twenty, though not printed till he was twenty-six, has caught admirably the early seventeenthcentury manner; for instance:

His face is fair as heaven

When springing buds unfold ;
Oh, why to him was 't given,

Whose heart is wintry cold ?
His breast is Love's all-worshipp'd tomb

Where all Love's pilgrims come.
The beautiful song on Love's golden cage, of the same


period, with more glow, is still marked by the like rather artificial glitter. A very different spirit permeates the Songs of Innocence, printed when their author was thirtytwo. That to a Lamb gives warmth as well as light :

Little Lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bade thee feed
By the stream, and o'er the mead ;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, 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, and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.

Little lamb, God bless thee !

Little lamb, God bless thee ! Infant Joy is a strayed sunbeam :


“I have no name;

am but two days old.' What shall I call thee ? 'I happy am, Joy is my name.' Sweet joy befall thee ! Pretty joy! Sweet joy, but two days old. Sweet joy I call thee : Thou dost smile, I sing the while ; Sweet joy befall thee ! 3


The exquisite first Cradle Song goes deeper, and perhaps rises higher :

Sweet dreams, form a shade
O'er my lovely infant's head !
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams !
Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown !
Sweet Sleep, angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child !
Sweet smiles, in the night
Hover over my delight!
Sweet smiles, mother's smile,
All the livelong night beguile.
Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thine


Sweet moan, sweeter smile,
All the dovelike moans beguile.
Sleep, sleep, happy child !
All creation slept and smiled.
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
While o'er thee doth mother weep.
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me :
Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
Thou His image ever see,

Heavenly face that smiles on thee ! 4 It is an earthly melody which Heaven might borrow; and that On Another's Sorrow one of which it must have been the birthplace :

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too ?
Can I see another's grief,

And not seek for kind relief ?


Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share ?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled ?
Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear ?
No, no! never can it be !
Never, never can it be !
And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear-
And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear ?
He doth give His joy to all ;
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.
Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by ;
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.
Oh He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy :
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.5

The two companion pictures of The Little Boy Lost, and Found, show how much more may be conveyed by pathos than the merely pathetic :

'Father, father, where are you going ?

Oh do not walk so fast !
Speak, father, speak to your little boy,

Or else I shall be lost.'

The night was dark, no father was there,

The child was wet with dew;
The mire was deep, and the child did weep,

And away the vapour flew.


The little boy lost in the lonely fen,

Led by the wandering light,
Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,

Appeared like his father, in white.
He kissed the child, and by the hand led,

And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, through the lonely dale,

The little boy weeping sought.
As Blake advanced in years his verse is more given
to putting questions than, as earlier, to answering them.
Take for example that great, that august piece, The Tiger:

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Framed thy fearful symmetry ?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burned that fire within thine eyes ?
On what wings dared he aspire ?
What the hand dared seize the fire ?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart ?
When thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand formed thy dread feet ?
What the hammer, what the chain,
Knit thy strength and forged thy brain ?
What the anvil ? What dread grasp
Dared thy deadly terrors clasp ?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see ?
Did He who made the lamb make thee ? ?

« ПредишнаНапред »