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William Blake

(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 / London)

Auguries of Innocence


To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill'd with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his Master's Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus'd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.
Every Wolf's & Lion's howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand'ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus'd breeds public strife
And yet forgives the Butcher's Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won't believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov'd by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by Woman lov'd.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider's enmity.
He who torments the Chafer's sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Catterpillar on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother's grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar's Dog & Widow's Cat,
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer's song
Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envy's Foot.
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artist's Jealousy.
The Prince's Robes & Beggars' Rags
Are Toadstools on the Miser's Bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy & Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro' the World we safely go.
Joy & Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The Babe is more than swadling Bands;
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made, & born were hands,
Every Farmer Understands.
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity.
This is caught by Females bright
And return'd to its own delight.
The Bleat, the Bark, Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heaven's Shore.
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of death.
The Beggar's Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
The Soldier arm'd with Sword & Gun,
Palsied strikes the Summer's Sun.
The poor Man's Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Afric's Shore.
One Mite wrung from the Labrer's hands
Shall buy & sell the Miser's lands:
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole Nation sell & buy.
He who mocks the Infant's Faith
Shall be mock'd in Age & Death.
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the Infant's faith
Triumph's over Hell & Death.
The Child's Toys & the Old Man's Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons.
The Questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to Reply.
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out.
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesar's Laurel Crown.
Nought can deform the Human Race
Like the Armour's iron brace.
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow.
A Riddle or the Cricket's Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply.
The Emmet's Inch & Eagle's Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile.
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you Please.
If the Sun & Moon should doubt
They'd immediately Go out.
To be in a Passion you Good may do,
But no Good if a Passion is in you.
The Whore & Gambler, by the State
Licenc'd, build that Nation's Fate.
The Harlot's cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old England's winding Sheet.
The Winner's Shout, the Loser's Curse,
Dance before dead England's Hearse.
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet Delight.
Some ar Born to sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro' the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day.

Submitted: Wednesday, May 09, 2001
Edited: Wednesday, May 09, 2001

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Comments about this poem (Auguries of Innocence by William Blake )

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/4/2014 4:10:00 AM)

    The words of the poems comes in such a beauty of entertainment and I felt I am perfectly reading a great poem and that too in its curiosity and wordpower. He who doubts what he sees will never believe do what you please the poet sings. It is a wonderful poem with word power, meanings and concerns. (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (10/5/2012 6:09:00 PM)

    haha..didn't know I was going to be reading a book..a brilliant write..great imagery..alot of these lines I find to be true..adding to my favourites..thank you William Blake.. :) (Report) Reply

  • Saiom Shriver (3/31/2012 1:58:00 PM)

    Auguries Of Innocence is a masterpiece... a litany of humankind's unspeakable cruelty to animals and other voiceless beings. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Holmes (11/2/2009 6:23:00 AM)

    I have yet to read anything that come near to the first four lines of this poem for such powerful imagery! Potent message too. A pleasure to read. (Report) Reply

  • Papermoon Woods (10/8/2009 6:33:00 PM)

    I love this! Beautiful! I love this part: 'A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.' That is so true. Very good poem, and like Nick Clement said, I don't normally like long poems but this poem keeps you reading! (Report) Reply

  • shirley bassett (8/2/2008 9:19:00 AM)

    This has got to be my favourite poem, normally I hate long poems, but this one I can read every line twice through without getting bored, captured me from the first stanza (The one in the first Tomb Raider film :)) , I tend to use the rhyme scheme of this first stanza in all my stanzas. (Report) Reply

  • Weldon Winn (1/9/2008 8:25:00 PM)

    Oh yes Imogen c (love the false humility of that lower case thing) don't ya just hate it to bits when some poet takes on the darker side of life? When will they ever learn we just want to be happy? : -) <- smiley face 4U (Report) Reply

  • Imogen c (10/15/2007 9:00:00 PM)

    i love all of it the first stanza is good to quote and i like the last few lines. the last few lines are what make a poem if they are bad then it compleatly destroys it and vice versa. it is a perfect description of how children are and how we should see the world. its full of life i dont like poems that are all doom and gloom. it is truely great (Report) Reply

  • Charley P (6/14/2007 2:57:00 PM)

    I have to say, i prefer the first stanza. I kind of get lost in the rest of it. But i do so love those first few lines! (Report) Reply

  • Nick Hernandez (3/18/2007 9:21:00 PM)

    try memorizing this poem people! ! ! !
    its hard! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! very hard...I'm only half way done (Report) Reply

  • Albert Ralph (9/1/2006 8:04:00 AM)

    The opening four lines are amongst the finest words written by anyone in any language, and I include all of the great religious writings in there as well. These lines transcend all thought, whether religious or secular, and drive to the heart of the human condition.

    In four lines, Blake has summed up what it means to possess a child-like faith. This is the very essence of what Christ is talking about when He says, 'Unless one become as a little child, he has no part in me.'

    This sentiment also infuses all of the works of Douglas Adams, who in addition to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, also wrote the Dirk Gently series which speaks about 'the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.' Adams has done with thousands of words of humourous prose, what Blake has done with four simple lines. The idea of men 'building the earth' is humourous. The idea of one man 'Winning an award' for designing the fjords of Norway, while entertaining is patently absurd and is a veiled warning to the reader that yes, the fjords of Norway are precious, as is every square inch of this planet.

    Adams also co wrote an travellogue about the vanishing of nature called 'The Last Chance to See', in which book, the sentiments of this poems ring throughout every page and photograph.

    Tolkien, in his famous works, espouses many of the same sentiments. The love for nature, and the need to respect, and protect it. The need to work with it, instead of against it. Tolkien took volumes to get his point across, and invented a few languages in the process. Blake summed it up in four lines.

    To see the world through a child's eyes. To be able to discern the complexity and entirety of creation, by merely observing the smallest piece of nature. To look at a leaf, and see the entire life-cycle of the tree, the hydrological cycle, and passing of the seasons as part of that leaf.

    To be able to fathom the great wonder of life, it's cycle, and its diversity, by merely viewing a flower.

    The be able to witness the entire march of history, by spending an quiet hour of contemplation in the midst of nature. To watch a bee, and a butterfly visiting the same group of flowers, and witness the conflict and resolution.

    All is connected. All that one does, affects everything else. If we don't figure that out soon, it will soon be the last chance to see humanity. This is the warning that is found throughout the poem, however the first four lines contain not the warning, but the joy of discovery.

    The first four lines speak of the reward. If one loses the ability to find pleasure in the simple viewing of the smallest parts of nature, then one has become the enemy of the larger parts. The good news is that it is not too late to regain that spirit of wonder. We all are born with it, whether rich or poor. In fact, it may be simpler for the poor person to appreciate these finer points of nature, not having the distractions of the rich. Many people lose this sense of wonder as they become encumbered with the cares of life.

    Grandchildren are a reward from God. If one has lost this sense of wonder, they force you, with love, to re-open your eyes to the simple wonders of nature.

    Look Grampa! a ladybug!
    Grampa, can I take this rock home?
    Look at the butterfly Grampa!
    Grampa! I saw a Blue Jay today!
    Grampa, come outside and look at your roses! (Report) Reply

  • Jim Hornby (5/26/2006 3:22:00 PM)

    This poem is not only beautiful, it a glimpse of visionary imagination. William Blake had spiritual vision since childhood-he could see and converse with Angels. The opening four lines are like a magic formula in words to open that world, crossing the threshold between sense impression and the higher senses which reveal the mysteries behind creation. Yes, it is an enigma and a paradox, but to work with it is to stimulate the latent imagination in everyone, and to see beyond the physical. (Report) Reply

  • Lilah Weiss (5/11/2006 2:52:00 AM)

    beautiful.

    Some more text so that the thingy can add my comment even though i have nothing more to say excuse indolence and lack of punctuation. (Report) Reply

Read all 18 comments »

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