Page:Facsimile of the original outlines before colouring of The songs of innocence and of experience executed by William Blake.djvu/21

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xv

question at the beginning remains. What can it mean? Why does the body thus cheat the spirit—why does the body make us believe that it exists at all, imposing its "little curtain of flesh" upon the bed of our soul's desire? It is the question that in the last lines of the book of Thel resounds from emotion's grave and drives it in terror from earth.

The Tiger brings out a belief of Blake's that the direct acts of creation were not all performed by one personal God in His own and undivided character, but were given out in commission to minor portions of Himself, each a god in its way. Of these, some were contraries of others in character. Of course, the Tiger is a mood. He is one of those "Tigers of wrath" who are "wiser than the horses of discretion." as we are told in the "Marriage of Heaven and Hell." He is said to roam, not in the night of the forest, it will be noted, but in the forests of the night, in the doubts and difficulties and melancholy of mortal existence.

The third verse is difficult to explain as it stands. Perhaps Blake thought it would do, as possibly meaning

"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 (could twist them?)."

But in his original manuscript the poem ran thus

"What dread hand and what dread feet
 Could filch it from the furnace deep,
 And in thy horned ribs dare steep,
 In the well of sanguine woe?

The stanza was never completed, and the three lines omitted when the song was engraved, without any alteration of that which preceded. Blake seems to have been groping uncertainly after his final form of expression. All the various readings will be found in the "Works," Vol. III., pp. 91 and 92.

In the "Pretty Rose Tree," jealousy shows us the meaning of the "Worm" in the Sick Rose. The Sunflower repeats the craving of youth and sighs for its satisfaction in eternity where the sun, the traveller of time, ends his journey.

The Lily claims that the most perfect love shall be considered to share, as of right, one symbol with the most perfect purity. (Is not this, considered merely as four lines of verse, the most beautiful quatrain in the English language?)

In the Garden of Love, the Natural Man is heard protesting against the moral claims that asceticism has imposed on the world through religion. In the "Little Vagabond" Blake preaches again the total repudiation of all accusation of sin, of all punishment, and of all restriction. That this