Then She bore Pale desire/edited

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746817then She bore Pale desire… (Edited)William Blake

then She bore Pale desire...

(as edited by Geoffrey Keynes)

then She bore Pale desire, father of Curiosity, a Virgin ever young.
And after, Leaden Sloth, from whom came Ignorance, who brought
forth Wonder. These are the Gods which came from fear, for Gods
like these nor male nor female are, but Single Pregnate, or, if they list,
5 together mingling bring forth mighty pow'rs. She knew them not;
yet they all war with Shame and strengthen her weak arm. [Now
day arose, the golden Sun his mighty Race began, Refreshing the
Cold earth with beaming Joy (del.) But Pride awoke, nor knew that Joy
was born, and taking Pois'nous Seed from her own Bowels in the
10 Monster Shame infus'd; forth Came Ambition, crawling like a toad.
Pride Bears it in her Bosom, and the Gods all bow to it. So Great its
Power that Pride, inspir'd by it, Prophetic saw the Kingdoms of the
World & all their Glory, Giants of Mighty arm, before the flood,
Cain's City. built with Murder. Then Babel mighty Rear'd him to the
15 Skies, Babel with thousand tongues. Confusion it was call'd. and
Given to Shame; this Pride observing inly Griev'd, but knew not that
the rest was Giv'n to Shame as well as this. [words del.]

Then Nineva & Babylon & Costly tyre And ev'n Jerusalem was
shewn, the holy City. Then Athens' learning, & the Pride of Greece;
20 and, further from the Rising Sun, was Rome, seated on Seven hills,
the mistress of the world, Emblem of Pride. She Saw the Arts their
treasures Bring, and luxury his bounteous table spread: but now a
cloud o'er casts and back to th'East. to Constantine's Great City,
Empire fled, Ere long to bleed & die, A sacrifice done by a Priestly
25 hand. So, once, the Sun his Chariot drew back to prolong a Good
King's life. The Cloud o'er past & Rome now Shone again, Miter'd
& Crown'd with triple crown. Then Pride was better Pleas'd. She
Saw the World fall down in Adoration. [Nor could Refrain but Cry'd,
"O this is the blest time when Pride shall hold the sway" (del.)] But now,
30 full to the Setting Sun, a Sun arose out of the Sea; it rose, & shed
Sweet Influence o'er the Earth. Pride feared for her City, but not
long, for looking stedfastly, she saw that Pride Reign'd here. Now
Direful Pains accost her, and Still pregnant, so Envy came, & Hate,
twin progeny. Envy hath a serpent's head of fearful bulk, hissing with
35 hundred tongues; her pois'nous breath breeds Satire foul contagion,
from which none are free: o'er whelmd by ever During Thirst she
swalloweth her own Poison, which consumes her nether Parts, from
Whence a River Springs. Most Black & loathsom through the land
it Runs, Rolling with furious Noise; but at the last it settles in a lake
40 called Oblivion: 'tis at this River's fount where ev'ry mortal's Cup
is Mix't. My Cup is fill'd with Envy's Rankest Draught [and Death
is in the Pot (del.)]; a miracle, No less, can set me Right. Desire still
pines but for one Cooling Drop, and 'tis Deny'd; while others in
Contentment's downy Nest do sleep, it is the cursed thorn wounding
45 my breast that makes me sing: however sweet 'tis Envy that Inspires
my Song: prickt by the fame of others how I mourn, and my com-
plaints are Sweeter than their Joys; but O, could I at Envy Shake my
hands, my notes should Rise to meet the New born Day. Hate,
Meager hag sets Envy on, Unable to Do ought herself, but Worn
50 away a Bloodless Daemon. The Gods all Serve her at her will; so
great her Power is, like fabled hecate, she doth bind them to her law.
Far in a Direful Cave she lives unseen, Clos'd from the Eye of Day,
to the hard Rock transfixt by fate, and here she works her witcheries,
that when she Groans she shakes the Solid Ground. Now Envy she
55 controlls with numming trance, & Melancholy, sprung from her
dark womb. There is a Melancholy, O how lovely 'tis whose heaven
is in the heavenly Mind, for she from heaven came, and where she
goes heaven still doth follow her. She brings true Joy once fled, &
Contemplation is her Daughter. Sweet Contemplation! [She teacheth
60 knowledge how to know (del.)] She brings humility to man. "Take
her," she says, "& wear her in thine heart, lord of thyself, thou then
art lord of all." [humility, her Daughter (del.)] 'Tis Contemplation
teacheth knowledge truly how to know, and Reinstates him on his
throne, once lost; how lost, I'll tell. But stop the motley Song. I'll
shew how Conscience Came from heaven. But O, who listens to his
65 Voice. 'Twas Conscience who brought Melancholy down, Conscience
was sent, a Guard to Reason, Reason once fairer than the light, till
foul'd in Knowledge's dark Prison house. For knowledge drove
sweet Innocence away, and Reason would have follow'd, but fate
suffer'd not; then down came Conscience with his lovely band. The
70 Eager Song Goes on, telling how Pride against her father Warr'd &
Overcame. Down his white Beard the silver torrents Roll and swelling
sighs burst forth, his Children all in arms appear to tear him from
his throne. Black was the deed, most Black. Shame in a Mist sat
Round his troubled head, & filld him with confusion. Fear as a
75 torrent wild Roar'd Round his throne; the mighty pillars shake. Now
all the Gods in black'ning Ranks appear, like a tempestuous thunder
Cloud. Pride leads. them on. Now they surround the God and bind
him fast. Pride bound him, then usurp'd o'er all the Gods. She Rode
upon the swelling wind, and scatter'd all who durst t'oppose; but
80 Shame opposing fierce and hovering over her in the darkning storm,
She brought forth Rage. And Shame bore honour, & made league
with Pride[2]. Meanwhile Strife, Mighty Prince, was born. Envy in
direful Pains him bore; then Envy brought forth Care. Care sitteth
in the wrinkled brow. Strife, shapeless, sitteth under thrones of
85 kings, like smould'ring fire, or in the Buzz of cities flies abroad. Care
brought forth Covet, Eyeless & prone to th'Earth, and Strife brought
forth Revenge. Hate, brooding in her Dismal den, grew Pregnant, &
[brought forth (del.)] bore Scorn, & Slander. Scorn waits on Pride, but
Slander flies around the World to do the Work of hate, her drudge
90 & Elf: but Policy doth drudge for hate, as well as Slander, & oft makes
use of her. Policy, Son of Shame. Indeed hate controlls all the Gods
at will. Policy brought forth Guile & fraud; these Gods last nam'd
live in the Smoke of Cities, on Dusky wing breathing forth Clamour
& Destruction; alas, in Cities where's the man whose face is not a mask
95 unto his heart? Pride made a Goddess fair, or Image rather, till
knowledge animated it; 'twas Calld Self love. The Gods admiring
loaded her with Gifts, as once Pandora. She 'mongst men was sent,
and worser ills attended her by far. She was a Goddess Powerful &
bore Conceit [& Emulation. Conceit][3] and Shame bore honour & made
100 league with Pride & Policy doth dwell with her by whom she had
Mistrust & Suspition; [by Shame she had a Son call'd Honour who
bore Revenge (del.)] then [Self love (del.)] bore a Daughter called
Emulation, who married honour; these follow her around the World.
Go See the city friends, Join'd Hand in Hand. Go see the Natural tie
105 of flesh & blood. Go See more strong the ties of marriage love—thou
Scarce Shall find, but Self love Stands Between.

<Before 1777>


  1. The 7-page manuscript is now in the New York Public Library. First printed by W. M. Rossetti, divided into lines, in The Monthly Review for August, 1903, with the title "The Passions".
  2. This sentence is marked for insertion in two places. See below.
  3. [& Emulation. Conceit] Keynes printed these with no brackets; Erdman omitted these, which is reasonable because Emulation will come later. (DS)

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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