Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extracts from Songs of Innocence: Night
By William Blake (1757–1827)
 
THE SUN descending in the west,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest,
And I must seek for mine.
The moon, like a flower        5
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.
 
Farewell, green fields and happy grove,
Where flocks have ta’en delight;        10
Where lambs have nibbled, silent move
The feet of angels bright:
Unseen they pour blessing,
And joy without ceasing,
On each bud and blossom,        15
On each sleeping bosom.
 
They look in every thoughtless nest,
Where birds are covered warm;
They visit caves of every beast,
To keep them all from harm.        20
If they see any weeping
That should have been sleeping,
They pour sleep on their head,
And sit down by their bed.
 
When wolves and tigers howl for prey        25
They pitying stand and weep,
Seeking to drive their thirst away,
And keep them from the sheep.
But if they rush dreadful
The angels most heedful        30
Receive each mild spirit
New worlds to inherit.
 
And there the lion’s ruddy eyes
Shall flow with tears of gold:
And pitying the tender cries,        35
And walking round the fold,
Saying: ‘Wrath by His meekness,
And by His health sickness,
Are driven away
From our immortal day.        40
 
And now beside thee, bleating lamb,
I can lie down and sleep,
Or think on Him who bore thy name,
Graze after thee, and weep.
For, washed in life’s river,        45
My bright mane for ever
Shall shine like the gold
As I guard o’er the fold.’
 
 
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