Introduction to the Songs of Experience

Original Text: 
William Blake, Songs of Experience (1794). Blake's Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman (Princeton, NJ: William Blake Trust; London: Tate Gallery, 1991-). See Vol. 2. PR 4142 B46 1991 ROBA.
1Hear the voice of the Bard!
2Who Present, Past, and Future, sees;
3Whose ears have heard
7And weeping in the evening dew;
8That might control
9The starry pole,
10And fallen, fallen light renew!
12Arise from out the dewy grass;
13Night is worn,
14And the morn
15Rises from the slumberous mass.
17Why wilt thou turn away?
18The starry floor,
20Is giv'n thee till the break of day."


4] Holy Word: Christ, who here, as in Milton's Paradise Lost, discovers the fall of Adam in Eden. Back to Line
5] ancient trees: cf. Gen. 3: 8. Back to Line
6] Soul: not Adam or Eve, but the female Earth (Heb. adamah) out of which Adam was made (Gen. 2: 7). It is the division of the human from the non-human world that for Blake is the essential aspect of the fall. Back to Line
11] O Earth return!: cf. Jer. 22: 29 and Isa. 21: 12. Back to Line
16] Turn away. The allusion is to the rotation of the spherical earth away from the light (cf. "Mad Song"). Back to Line
19] wat'ry shore: cf. Job 38: 11. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Northrop Frye
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.281.