Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
Songs of Experience
Earth’s Answer
EARTH 1 rais’d up her head
From the darkness dread and drear.
Her light fled,
Stony dread!
And her locks cover’d with grey despair.        5
‘Prison’d on wat’ry shore,
Starry Jealousy does keep my den:
Cold and hoar,
Weeping o’er,
I hear the Father of the Ancient Men.        10
‘Selfish Father of Men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish Fear!
Can delight,
Chain’d in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear?        15
‘Does spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the ploughman in darkness plough?        20
‘Break this heavy chain
That does freeze my bones around.
Selfish! vain!
Eternal bane!
That free Love with bondage bound.’        25
Note 1. Earth’s Answer] This and seventeen others of the Songs of Experience were engraved for this book from earlier drafts or transcripts in the Rossetti MS., the original readings in each case being noted below.
  Title] The Earth’s Answer MS. first word del. 3 Blake’s successive changes of this line are:
Her eyes fled
    orbs dead
    light fled (pencil).
10 Father of the] del. in MS., and replaced by some illegible word erased. 11–15 Cancelled in MS. The original rime-arrangement abaab breaks down in this and the next stanza. 11 Selfish] Cruel MS. 1st rdg. del. 12 selfish] weeping MS. 1st rdg. del. 14 Chain’d] Clog’d MS. 1st rdg. del. 16–20 This stanza was an addition written in place of the third, which Blake cancelled but restored when engraving. 16 joy] delight MS. 1st rdg. del. 18, 19 Does the sower sow His seed by night MS. 1st rdg. del. 22 freeze] close MS. 1st rdg. del. 24, 25 Thou, my bane Hast my Love with bondage bound MS. 1st rdg. del. [back]

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