POEMS HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED.
[The contents of the precious section which now follows have been derived partly from the MS. Note-book to which frequent reference has been made in the Life, and partly from another small autograph collection of different matter, somewhat more fairly copied. The poems have been reclaimed, as regards the first-mentioned source, from as chaotic a mass as could well be imagined; amid which it has sometimes been necessary either to omit, transpose, or combine, so as to render available what was very seldom found in a final state. And even in the pieces drawn from the second source specified above, means of the same kind have occasionally been resorted to, where they seemed to lessen obscurity or avoid redundance. But with all this, there is nothing throughout that is not faithfully Blake's own.
One piece in this series (The Two Songs) may be regarded as a different version of The Human Abstract, occurring in the Songs of Experience. This new form is certainly the finer one, I think, by reason of its personified character, which adds greatly to the force of the impression produced. It is, indeed, one of the finest things Blake ever did, really belonging, by its vivid completeness, to the order of perfect short poems,—never a very large band, even when the best poets are ransacked to recruit it. Others among the longer poems of this section, which are, each in its own way, truly admirable, are Broken Love, Mary, and Auguries of Innocence.
Never perhaps have the agony and perversity of sundered affection been more powerfully (however singularly) expressed than in the piece called Broken Love. The speaker is one whose soul has been intensified by pain to be his only world, among the scenes, figures, and events of which he moves as in a new state of being. The emotions have been quickened and isolated by conflicting torment, till each is a separate companion. There is his 'spectre,' the jealous pride which scents in the snow the footsteps of the beloved rejected woman, but is a wild beast to guard his way from reaching her; his 'emanation' which silently weeps within him, for has not he also sinned? So they wander together in 'a fathomless and boundless deep,' the morn full of tempests and the night of tears. Let her weep, he says, not for his sins only, but for her own; nay, he will cast his sins upon her shoulders too; they shall be more and more till she come to him again. Also this woe of his can array itself in stately imagery. He can count separately how many of his soul's affections the knife she stabbed it with has slain, how many yet mourn over the tombs which he has built for these: he can tell, too, of some that still watch around his bed, bright sometimes with ecstatic passion of melancholy, and crowning his mournful head with vine. All these living forgive her transgressions: when will she look upon them, that the dead may live again? Has she not pity to give for pardon? nay, does she not need her pardon too? He cannot sock her, but oh! if she would return! Surely her place is ready for her, and bread and wine of forgiveness of sins.
I have dwelt on the meaning of this poem, because it is one which, from the figurative form given to it, might be accounted specially obscure. But in reality, it is perhaps the only instance in which Blake has dealt with any of the deeper phases of human passion; and though the way of dealng with it is all his own, the result is as startlingly true as