Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
Appendix to the Earlier Poems in the Rossetti MS.
A Fairy leapt upon my knee
A FAIRY 1 leapt upon my knee
Singing and dancing merrily;
I said, ‘Thou thing of patches, rings,
Pins, necklaces, and such-like things,
Disgracer of the female form,        5
Thou paltry, gilded, poisonous worm!’
Weeping, he fell upon my thigh,
And thus in tears did soft reply:
‘Knowest thou not, O Fairies’ lord!
How much by us contemn’d, abhorr’d,        10
Whatever hides the female form
That cannot bear the mortal storm?
Therefore in pity still we give
Our lives to make the female live;
And what would turn into disease        15
We turn to what will joy and please.’
Note 1. I place here a short poem printed by Swinburne in his Essay (pp. 143–4, note), who refers to it as ‘copied from a loose scrap of paper, on the back of which is a pencilled sketch of Hercules throttling the serpents, whose twisted limbs make a sort of spiral cradle around and above the child’s triumphant figure: an attendant, naked, falls back in terror with sharp recoil of drawn-up limbs; Alcmene and Amphitryon watch the struggle in silence, he grasping her hand.’
  I have little doubt that this ‘loose scrap of paper’ must have been one of those enclosed in, but not afterwards bound up with, the MS. Book, when it was acquired by D. G. Rossetti; the piece itself in theme and manner closely resembling ‘The Fairy’ in the preceding section, written circa 1793, and the proem to Europe engraved 1794. [back]

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