The human Image

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For works with similar titles, see The Human Abstract.
Notebook 28. The human Image
by William Blake
From Notebook, p. 107, reversed. 1st draft version of “The Human Abstract” (see Songs of Experience)
Notebook 28-a - The Human Image
Notebook 28-b - The Human Image
Notebook 28-c - The Human Image

1st reading:[1][edit]

The human Image

Pity [written over Mercy] could be no more,
[If there was nobody poor del.]
If we did not make somebody poor;
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we.

And mutual fear brings Peace,
Till the selfish Loves increase:
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his [nets del.] baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears
And waters the ground with tears;
Then humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the catterpiller & fly
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of deceit,
Ruddy & sweet to eat;
And the raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the Earth & Sea
Sought thro' nature to find this tree;
But their search was all in vain:
[Till they sought in the human brain. del.]
There grows one in the human brain.

They said this mistery never shall cease;
The priest [loves del.] promotes war & the soldier piece.

There souls of men a bought & sold
And [cradled del.] milk fed infancy [is sold del.] for gold;
And youths to slaughter houses led,
And [maidens del.] beauty for a bit of bread.
________

2nd reading:[2][edit]

The human Image

[Mercy] Pity could be no more
[If there was nobody poor]
If we did not make somebody poor
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we

And mutual fear brings Peace
Till the selfish Loves increase
Then Cruelty knits a snare
And spreads his [nets] baits with care

He sits down with holy fears
And waters the ground with tears
Then humility takes its root
Underneath his foot

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head
And the catterpillar & fly
Feed on the Mystery

And it bears the fruit of deceit
Ruddy & sweet to eat
And the raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade

The Gods of the Earth & Sea
Sought thro nature to find this tree
But their search was all in vain
[Till they sought in the human brain]
There grows one in the human brain

They said this mistery never shall cease
The priest [loves] promotes war and the soldier piece

There souls of men a bought & sold
And [cradled] milk fed infancy [is sold] for gold
And youth[s] to slaughter houses led
And [maidens] beauty for a bit of bread
________

Wikisource notes[edit]

  1. "Blake Complete Writings", ed. Geoffrey Keynes, pub. OUP 1966/85, p. 174.
  2. William Blake The Complete Poems", ed. Alicia Ostriker, Penguin Books 1977, p. 147-148.