Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/134

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116
THE POEMS OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

And here are a few more lines almost as majestically mature as one of his Inventions for the Books of Job:—

Jesus sat in Moses' chair;
They brought the trembling woman there:
Moses commands she be stoned to death;
What was the sound of Jesus' breath?
He laid his hands on Moses' law:
The ancient heavens in silent awe,
Writ with curses from pole to pole,
All away began to roll:
"To be good only, is to be
A God, or else a Pharisee."

The man who wrote this might well proclaim: "I touch the heavens as an instrument to glorify the Lord."

Broken Love needs no comment here: Mr. W. M. Rossetti has done the best that could be done by the most subtle and patient sympathy to interpret it. I subjoin half-a-dozen lines from the Auguries of Innocence:

A Robin red-breast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage;
A dove-house full of doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell through all its regions;
A skylark wounded on the wing
Doth make a cherub cease to sing.

It has been objected (strangely enough, in Macmillans Magazine) to such couplets as these, that they express a truth with such exaggerated emphasis as wholly to distort it, as to make it virtually an untruth. No objection could be more unwise, for it is the result of reading the author's intention precisely backwards. His object was not to expand a small fact into a universal truth, but to concentrate the full essence of a universal truth into a small fact. He was intent on making great laws port-