Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
Poems from the Rossetti MS.: Earlier Poems
‘LET 1 the brothels of Paris be openèd
With many an alluring dance,
To awake the physicians thro’ the city!’
Said the beautiful Queen of France.
The King awoke on his couch of gold,
As soon as he heard these tidings told:
‘Arise and come, both fife and drum,
And the famine shall eat both crust and crumb.’
The Queen of France just touch’d this globe,
And the pestilence darted from her robe;        10
But our good Queen quite grows to the ground,
And a great many suckers grow all around.
Fayette beside King Lewis stood;
He saw him sign his hand;
And soon he saw the famine rage        15
About the fruitful land.
Fayette beheld the Queen to smile
And wink her lovely eye;
And soon he saw the pestilence
From street to street to fly.        20
Fayette beheld the King and Queen
In curses and iron bound;
But mute Fayette wept tear for tear,
And guarded them around.
Fayette, Fayette, thou’rt bought and sold
And sold is thy happy morrow;
Thou gavest the tears of pity away
In exchange for the tears of sorrow.
Who will exchange his own fireside
For the stone of another’s door?        30
Who will exchange his wheaten loaf
For the links of a dungeon-floor?
O who would smile on the wintry seas
And pity the stormy roar?
Or who will exchange his new-born child        35
For the dog at the wintry door?
Note 1. Lafayette] Written upon two opposite pages of the MS. Book, and apparently abandoned unfinished. As it there stands, the rough draft exhibits a bewildering series of erasures, corrections, re-writings, and re-arrangements of lines into stanzas, and stanzas into various sequences, dealt with in detail in my previous edition of the Poems. In the present text I have attempted to give, so far as it can be ascertained, the last form and order of the stanzas as indicated by Blake’s final revisions, with the earlier readings in footnotes. 3 physicians] pestilence MS. 1st rdg. del. 8 famine] MS. 1st rdg. del.; but no word substituted. ii Followed in the MS. by the two erased stanzas:
Then old Nobodaddy aloft
… and belched and cough’d,
And said ‘I love hanging and drawing and quartering
Every bit as well as war and slaughtering.
Damn praying and singing,
Unless they will bring in
The blood of ten thousand by fighting or swinging!’
Then he swore a great and solemn oath.
‘To kill the people I am loth;
But if they rebel, they must go to hell:
They shall have a priest and a passing bell.’
These were later compressed into a single stanza, afterwards cancelled:
Then he swore a great and solemn oath:
‘To kill the people I am loth,’
And said ‘I love hanging and drawing and quartering
Every bit as well as war and slaughtering.’

  11, 12
But the bloodthirsty people across the water
Will not submit to the gibbet and halter.
MS. 1st rdg. del.

There is just such a tree at Java found.
MS. 2nd rdg. del.

  iv, v These two stanzas were afterwards cancelled. 22 curses] tears MS. 1st rdg. del.
  vii Afterwards cancelled. The stanza originally stood:
Fayette, Fayette, thou’rt bought and sold
For well I see thy tears
Of Pity are exchanged for those
Of selfish slavish fears.
Then followed the deleted beginning of an unfinished stanza:
Fayette beside his banner stood,
His captains false around,
Thou’rt bought and sold—

  viii, ix These two stanzas are an expansion of the earlier version:
Will the mother exchange her new-born babe
For the dog at the wintry door?
Yet thou dost exchange thy pitying tears
For the links of a dungeon-floor!
MS. 1st rdg. del.
  32 Followed in the MS. by the erased lines:
Who will exchange his own heart’s blood
For the drops of a Harlot’s eye?

  36 Cp. Urizen, f. 23, l. 2. [back]

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