Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  491. Night

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

William Blake. 1757–1827

491. Night

THE sun descending in the west, 
  The evening star does shine; 
The birds are silent in their nest. 
  And I must seek for mine. 
    The moon, like a flower         5
    In heaven’s high bower, 
    With silent delight 
    Sits and smiles on the night. 
Farewell, green fields and happy grove, 
  Where flocks have took delight:  10
Where lambs have nibbled, silent move 
  The feet of angels bright; 
    Unseen they pour blessing 
    And joy without ceasing 
    On each bud and blossom,  15
    And each sleeping bosom. 
They look in every thoughtless nest 
  Where birds are cover’d warm; 
They visit caves of every beast, 
  To keep them all from harm:  20
    If they see any weeping 
    That should have been sleeping, 
    They pour sleep on their head, 
    And sit down by their bed. 
When wolves and tigers howl for prey,  25
  They pitying stand and weep, 
Seeking to drive their thirst away 
  And keep them from the sheep. 
    But, if they rush dreadful, 
    The angels, most heedful,  30
    Receive each mild spirit, 
    New worlds to inherit. 
And there the lion’s ruddy eyes 
  Shall flow with tears of gold: 
And pitying the tender cries,  35
  And walking round the fold: 
    Saying, ‘Wrath, by His meekness, 
    And, by His health, sickness, 
    Are driven away 
    From our immortal day.  40
‘And now beside thee, bleating lamb, 
  I can lie down and sleep, 
Or think on Him who bore thy name, 
  Graze after thee, and weep. 
    For, wash’d in life’s river,  45
    My bright mane for ever 
    Shall shine like the gold 
    As I guard o’er the fold.’