I Heard an Angel

Original Text: 
William Blake, Poems, ed. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1863).
2When the day was springing,
3"Mercy, Pity, Peace
4Is the world's release."
5Thus he sung all day
6Over the new mown hay,
7Till the sun went down
8And haycocks looked brown.
9I heard a Devil curse
10Over the heath and the furze,
11"Mercy could be no more,
12If there was nobody poor,
13And pity no more could be,
14If all were as happy as we."
15At his curse the sun went down,
16And the heavens gave a frown.
17Down pour'd the heavy rain
18Over the new reap'd grain ...
19And Miseries' increase
20Is Mercy, Pity, Peace.


1] This poem is closely related to the poem in Songs of Experience called "The Human Abstract," which is the counterpart in experience to "The Divine Image" in Songs of Innocence (see above). A draft of "The Human Abstract," with the title "The Human Image," is also in the Rossetti MS. In Blake's thought "image" and "abstract" are the units of the creative and the anti-creative attitudes respectively. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Northrop Frye
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.290.