These are the top twenty (20) most popular poems of William Blake.
From The Tyger to A War Song To Englishmen.
If you want to know his greatest poems of all time, then this poetry collection is for you.
Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?
Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
A Poison Tree
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
and he knew that it was mine,
And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Auguries Of Innocence
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clipp’d and arm’d for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.
Every Wolf’s & Lion’s howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand’ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus’d breeds public strife
And yet forgives the Butcher’s Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won’t believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever’s fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov’d by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by Woman lov’d.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider’s enmity.
He who torments the Chafer’s sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Catterpillar on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother’s grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar’s Dog & Widow’s Cat,
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer’s song
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot.
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artist’s Jealousy.
The Prince’s Robes & Beggars’ Rags
Are Toadstools on the Miser’s Bags.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy & Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.
Joy & Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The Babe is more than swadling Bands;
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made, & born were hands,
Every Farmer Understands.
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity.
This is caught by Females bright
And return’d to its own delight.
The Bleat, the Bark, Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heaven’s Shore.
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of death.
The Beggar’s Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
The Soldier arm’d with Sword & Gun,
Palsied strikes the Summer’s Sun.
The poor Man’s Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Afric’s Shore.
One Mite wrung from the Labrer’s hands
Shall buy & sell the Miser’s lands:
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole Nation sell & buy.
He who mocks the Infant’s Faith
Shall be mock’d in Age & Death.
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall ne’er get out.
He who respects the Infant’s faith
Triumph’s over Hell & Death.
The Child’s Toys & the Old Man’s Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons.
The Questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to Reply.
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out.
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesar’s Laurel Crown.
Nought can deform the Human Race
Like the Armour’s iron brace.
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow.
A Riddle or the Cricket’s Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply.
The Emmet’s Inch & Eagle’s Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile.
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er believe, do what you Please.
If the Sun & Moon should doubt
They’d immediately Go out.
To be in a Passion you Good may do,
But no Good if a Passion is in you.
The Whore & Gambler, by the State
Licenc’d, build that Nation’s Fate.
The Harlot’s cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old England’s winding Sheet.
The Winner’s Shout, the Loser’s Curse,
Dance before dead England’s Hearse.
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet Delight.
Some ar Born to sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro’ the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day.
A Cradle Song
Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.
Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.
As thy softest limbs I feel,
Smiles as of the morning steal
O’er thy cheek, and o’er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.
O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake,
Then the dreadful light shall break.
Once a dream did weave a shade
O’er my angel-guarded bed,
That an emmet lost its way
Where on grass methought I lay.
Troubled, wildered, and forlorn,
Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
Over many a tangle spray,
All heart-broke, I heard her say:
“Oh my children! do they cry,
Do they hear their father sigh?
Now they look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me.”
Pitying, I dropped a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near,
Who replied, “What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night?
“I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetle’s hum;
Little wanderer, hie thee home!”
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.
Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;
Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!
The Sun arises in the East,
Cloth’d in robes of blood and gold;
Swords and spears and wrath increast
All around his bosom roll’d
Crown’d with warlike fires and raging desires.
A Divine Image
Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secresy the human dress.
The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.
Love And Harmony
Love and harmony combine,
And round our souls entwine
While thy branches mix with mine,
And our roots together join.
Joys upon our branches sit,
Chirping loud and singing sweet;
Like gentle streams beneath our feet
Innocence and virtue meet.
Thou the golden fruit dost bear,
I am clad in flowers fair;
Thy sweet boughs perfume the air,
And the turtle buildeth there.
There she sits and feeds her young,
Sweet I hear her mournful song;
And thy lovely leaves among,
There is love, I hear his tongue.
There his charming nest doth lay,
There he sleeps the night away;
There he sports along the day,
And doth among our branches play.
Sweet dreams, form a shade
O’er my lovely infant’s head!
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams!
Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown
Sweet Sleep, angel mild,
Hover o’er my happy child!
Sweet smiles, in the night
Hover over my delight!
Sweet smiles, mother’s smile,
All the livelong night beguile.
Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thine eyes!
Sweet moan, sweeter smile,
All the dovelike moans beguile.
Sleep, sleep, happy child!
All creation slept and smiled.
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
While o’er thee doth mother weep.
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace;
Sweet babe, once like thee
Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:
Wept for me, for thee, for all,
When He was an infant small.
Thou His image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee!
Smiles on thee, on me, on all,
Who became an infant small;
Infant smiles are his own smiles;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles.
When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;
when the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing “Ha, ha he!”
When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, ha, he!”
The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble sheep a threat’ning horn:
While the Lily white shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.
Earth raised up her head
From the darkness dread and drear,
Her light fled,
And her locks covered with grey despair.
“Prisoned on watery shore,
Starry jealousy does keep my den
Cold and hoar;
I hear the father of the ancient men.
“Selfish father of men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish fear!
Chained in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear?
“Does spring hide its joy,
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the plowman in darkness plough?
“Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around!
That free love with bondage bound.”
I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe was ne’er beguiled!
And I wept both night and day,
And he wiped my tears away;
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart’s delight.
So he took his wings, and fled;
Then the morn blushed rosy red.
I dried my tears, and armed my fears
With ten-thousand shields and spears.
Soon my Angel came again;
I was armed, he came in vain;
For the time of youth was fled,
And grey hairs were on my head.
A Song Of Liberty
The Eternal Female groand! it was heard over all the Earth:
Albions coast is sick silent; the American meadows faint!
Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers and mutter across the ocean! France rend down thy dungeon;
Golden Spain burst the barriers of old Rome;
Cast thy keys O Rome into the deep down falling, even to eternity down falling,
In her trembling hands she took the new, born terror howling;
On those infinite mountains of light now barr’d out by the atlantic sea, the new born fire stood before the starry king!
Flag’d with grey brow’d snows and thunderous visages the jealous wings wav’d over the deep.
The speary hand burned aloft, unbuckled was the shield, forth went the hand of jealousy among the flaming hair, and
[PL 26]hurl’d the new born wonder thro’ the starry night.
The fire, the fire, is falling!
Look up! look up! O citizen of London. enlarge thy countenance; O Jew, leave counting gold! return to thy oil and
wine; O African! black African! (go. winged thought widen his forehead.)
The fiery limbs, the flaming hair, shot like the sinking sun into the western sea.
Wak’d from his eternal sleep, the hoary, element roaring fled away:
Down rushd beating his wings in vain the jealous king: his grey brow’d councellors, thunderous warriors, curl’d veterans, among helms, and shields, and chariots horses, elephants: banners, castles, slings and rocks,
Falling, rushing, ruining! buried in the ruins, on Urthona’s dens.
All night beneath the ruins, then their sullen flames faded emerge round the gloomy king,
With thunder and fire: leading his starry hosts thro’ the waste wilderness [PL 27]he promulgates his ten commands, glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay,
Where the son of fire in his eastern cloud, while the morning plumes her golden breast,
Spurning the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony law to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying
Empire is no more! and now the lion & wolf shall cease.
Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren whom, tyrant, he calls free; lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that wishes but acts not!
For every thing that lives is Holy
My Pretty Rose Tree
A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said “I’ve a pretty rose tree,”
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.
Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.
The Sick Rose
O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
The Wild Flower’s Song
As I wandered the forest,
The green leaves among,
I heard a Wild Flower
Singing a song.
‘I slept in the earth
In the silent night,
I murmured my fears
And I felt delight.
‘In the morning I wentWilliam Blake
As rosy as morn,
To seek for new joy;
But oh! met with scorn.’
A War Song To Englishmen
Prepare, prepare the iron helm of war,
Bring forth the lots, cast in the spacious orb;
Th’ Angel of Fate turns them with mighty hands,
And casts them out upon the darken’d earth!
Prepare your hearts for Death’s cold hand! prepare
Your souls for flight, your bodies for the earth;
Prepare your arms for glorious victory;
Prepare your eyes to meet a holy God!
Whose fatal scroll is that? Methinks ’tis mine!
Why sinks my heart, why faltereth my tongue?
Had I three lives, I’d die in such a cause,
And rise, with ghosts, over the well-fought field.
The arrows of Almighty God are drawn!
Angels of Death stand in the louring heavens!
Thousands of souls must seek the realms of light,
And walk together on the clouds of heaven!
Soldiers, prepare! Our cause is Heaven’s cause;
Soldiers, prepare! Be worthy of our cause:
Prepare to meet our fathers in the sky:
Prepare, O troops, that are to fall to-day!
Alfred shall smile, and make his harp rejoice;
The Norman William, and the learnèd Clerk,
And Lion Heart, and black-brow’d Edward, with
His loyal queen, shall rise, and welcome us!
All of these poems are masterpieces! No wonder Madison Julius Cawein is now considered a seminal figure in the history of poetry. His skills in visual artistry through his poems are indeed magnificent!
Of course, I wouldn’t miss reading my favorite work in this collection―The Angel. I also want to dream about angels that will protect me all day long. Well, who wouldn’t want that, right?
What about you? What’s your most favorite poem of William Blake?
Do you still want to add another of his poem to this list? Let me know in the comment section below! 😉