Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
The Pickering MS.
The Golden Net
THREE VIRGINS 1 at the break of day:—
‘Whither, young man, whither away?
Alas for woe! alas for woe!’
They cry, and tears for ever flow.
The one was cloth’d in flames of fire,        5
The other cloth’d in iron wire,
The other cloth’d in tears and sighs
Dazzling bright before my eyes.
They bore a Net of golden twine
To hang upon the branches fine.        10
Pitying I wept to see the woe
That Love and Beauty undergo,
To be consum’d in burning fires
And in ungratified desires,
And in tears cloth’d night and day        15
Melted all my soul away.
When they saw my tears, a smile
That did Heaven itself beguile,
Bore the Golden Net aloft,
As on downy pinions soft,        20
Over the Morning of my day.
Underneath the net I stray,
Now entreating Burning Fire
Now entreating Iron Wire,
Now entreating Tears and Sighs—        25
O! when will the morning rise?
Note 1. The Golden Net] In its present form this poem is a fair copy of a rough draft in the Rossetti MS., without title.
  1–2 In the opening couplet Blake returns to his first version in the Ross. MS., there afterwards altered to:
Beneath the whitethorn’s lovely may
Three Virgins at the break of day.
the initial line of which, perhaps inadvertently omitted, seems necessary to explain the reference to ‘the branches’ in l. 10. D. G. Rossetti, followed by most editors, begins with a triplet. 3 Alas … woe] Alas for woe! alas for woe! alas for woe! Ross. MS. 6, 24 iron wire] sweet desire Ross. MS. 1st rdg. del. 7 tears and sighs] sighs and tears Ross. MS. 1st rdg. del. 11 Followed in the Ross. MS. by the deleted passage:
Wings they had that soft enclose
Round their body when they chose,
They would let them down at will,
Or make translucent …
20 on] by Ross. MS. 21 Over] O’er Ross. MS. 23 Burning Fire] flaming fire Ross. MS. 26 When, O when, will Morning rise Ross. MS. 1st rdg. del. [back]

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