Page:William Blake, a critical essay (Swinburne).djvu/141

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WILLIAM BLAKE.

clamour of envy and stupidity. She teaches how to entrap and retain such fugitive delights as children and animals enjoy without seeking to catch or cage them; but this teaching the world calls sin, and the law of material religion condemns: the face of "Tirzah" is set against it, in the "shame and pride" of sex.

" Thou, mother of my mortal part,
With cruelty didst mould my heart,
And with false self-deceiving fears
Didst bind my nostrils, eyes, and ears."

And thus those who live in subjection to the senses would in their turn bring the senses into subjection; unable to see beyond the body, they find it worth while to refuse the body its right to freedom.

In these hurried notes on the Songs an effort has been made to get that done which is most absolutely necessary—not that which might have been most facile or most delightful. Analytic remark has been bestowed on those poems only which really cannot dispense with it in the eyes of most men. Many others need no herald or interpreter, demand no usher or outrider: some of these are among Blake's best, some again almost among his worst.[1] Poems in which a doctrine or subject once

  1. Such we must consider, for instance, the second Little Boy Lost, which looks at first more of a riddle and less worth solution than the haziest section of the prophetic books. A cancelled reading taken from the rough copy in the Ideas will at all events make one stanza more amenable to reason:

    " I love myself; so does the bird
    That picks up crumbs around the door."

    Blake was rather given to erase a comparatively reasonable reading and substitute something which cannot be confidently deciphered by the most daring self-reliance of audacious ingenuity, until the reader has found some means of pitching his fancy for a moment in the ordinary key of the prophet's. This un-