William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

Poems from the Rossetti MS.: The Everlasting Gospel


WAS Jesus born of a Virgin pure

With narrow soul and looks demure?

If He intended to take on sin

The Mother should an harlot been,

Just such a one as Magdalen,

With seven devils in her pen.

Or were Jew virgins still more curs’d,

And more sucking devils nurs’d?

Or what was it which He took on

That He might bring salvation?

A body subject to be tempted,

From neither pain nor grief exempted;

Or such a body as might not feel

The passions that with sinners deal?

Yes, but they say He never fell.

Ask Caiaphas; for he can tell.—

‘He mock’d the Sabbath, and He mock’d

The Sabbath’s God, and He unlock’d

The evil spirits from their shrines,

And turn’d fishermen to divines;

O’erturn’d the tent of secret sins,

And its golden cords and pins,

In the bloody shrine of war

Pour’d around from star to star,—

Halls of justice, hating vice,

Where the Devil combs his lice.

He turn’d the devils into swine

That He might tempt the Jews to dine;

Since which, a pig has got a look

That for a Jew may be mistook.

“Obey your parents.”—What says He?

“Woman, what have I to do with thee?

No earthly parents I confess:

I am doing My Father’s business.”

He scorn’d Earth’s parents, scorn’d Earth’s God,

And mock’d the one and the other’s rod;

His seventy Disciples sent

Against Religion and Government—

They by the sword of Justice fell,

And Him their cruel murderer tell.

He left His father’s trade to roam,

A wand’ring vagrant without home;

And thus He others’ labour stole,

That He might live above control.

The publicans and harlots He

Selected for His company,

And from the adulteress turn’d away

God’s righteous law, that lost its prey.’