Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/263

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251
OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

is inserted. These miniature pictures are of the most vivid colours, and often grotesque, so that the book presents a most singular appearance. It is not easy to form a comprehensive opinion of the text, since the poems deserve the highest praise and the gravest censure. Some are childlike songs of great beauty and simplicity; these are the Songs of Innocence, many of which, nevertheless, are excessively childish.

The Songs of Experience, on the other hand, are metaphysical riddles and mystical allegories. Among them are poetic pictures of the highest beauty and sublimity; and again there are poetical fancies which can scarcely be understood even by the initiated. As we wish to make the knowledge of our author as complete as possible, we will give an example of either kind. The book has an Introduction from which we here insert the first and the two last stanzas (the fourth and fifth).

Piping down the valleys wild,
  Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
  And he laughing said to me:

'Piper, sit thee down and write
  In a book that all may read.'
So he vanished from my sight,
  And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
  And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs,
  Every child may joy to hear.

We can only give one more example of these joyous and delicious songs, that called 'Holy