Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
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William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
 
Songs of Experience
To Tirzah
 
WHATE’ER 1 is born of mortal birth
Must be consumèd with the earth,
To rise from generation free:
Then what have I to do with thee?
 
The sexes sprung from shame and pride,        5
Blow’d in the morn; in evening died;
But Mercy chang’d death into sleep;
The sexes rose to work and weep.
 
Thou, Mother of my mortal part,
With cruelty didst mould my heart,        10
And with false self-deceiving tears
Didst bind my nostrils, eyes, and ears;
 
Didst close my tongue in senseless clay,
And me to mortal life betray:
The death of Jesus set me free:        15
Then what have I to do with thee?
 
Note 1. To Tirzah] This poem, of which there is no first draft in the MS. Book, bears intrinsic evidence in its symbolism of having been composed at a much later date than any of the other songs, the earliest issue in which it occurs being a copy of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience, formerly in the possession of Mr. Butts, and now in the Rowfant Library. Further proof of this song being a late addition is found in Russell’s Engravings of William Blake (no. 16, pp. 72–3), where he refers to a copy of the Songs, which, in place of ‘To Tirzah’, contains an engraving in colours representing a nude figure born aloft by winged cherubs. Perhaps, in spite of Blake’s habit of repeating lines after a long interval of time, we may see some evidence of the approximate date of this poem in the fact that the final line of the first and last stanzas:
Then what have I to do with thee?
occurs also in the last poem of the Pickering MS. written circa 1801–3. [back]
 
 
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