Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
Poems from the Rossetti MS.: Earlier Poems
I heard an Angel singing
I HEARD 1 an Angel singing
When the day was springing:
‘Mercy, Pity, Peace
Is the world’s release.’
Thus he sang all day        5
Over the new-mown hay,
Till the sun went down,
And haycocks lookèd brown.
I heard a Devil curse
Over the heath and the furze:        10
‘Mercy could be no more
If there was nobody poor,
‘And Pity no more could be,
If all were as happy as we.’
At his curse the sun went down,        15
And the heavens gave a frown.
[Down pour’d the heavy rain
Over the new reap’d grain;
And Misery’s increase
Is Mercy, Pity, Peace.]        20
Note 1. I heard an Angel singing] A variant version of ‘The Human Image’, engraved under the title ‘The Human Abstract’ in the Songs of Experience 15 At his curse] Thus he sang and MS. 1st rdg. del. 16 Here, as the MS. indicates, the poem originally ended, Blake afterwards adding a fifth stanza:
Down [at first And down] pour’d the heavy rain
Over the new-reap’d grain,
And Mercy and Pity and Peace descended;
The Farmers were ruined and harvest was ended—
and again marking the completion of the piece by a fresh terminal line. This entire stanza was afterwards deleted, and is followed by several attempts at a new couplet, rehandling in the original metre the theme of Mercy, Pity, Peace, all of which were cancelled with the exception of the final reading:
And Miscry’s increase.
Is Mercy, Pity, Peace.
These lines seem intended to form the final couplet of v, and Swinburne doubtless interprets rightly the author’s intention in appending them to the first deleted couplet:
Down pour’d the heavy rain
Over the new-reap’d grain,
and printing this additional stanza in the form in which it appears, in square brackets, in my text. [back]

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