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

Poems from the Rossetti MS.: Earlier Poems

Infant Sorrow

MY mother groan’d, my father wept;

Into the dangerous world I leapt,

Helpless, naked, piping loud,

Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my father’s hands,

Striving against my swaddling-bands,

Bound and weary, I thought best

To sulk upon my mother’s breast.

When I saw that rage was vain,

And to sulk would nothing gain,

Turning many a trick and wile

I began to soothe and smile.

And I sooth’d day after day,

Till upon the ground I stray;

And I smil’d night after night,

Seeking only for delight.

And I saw before me shine

Clusters of the wand’ring vine;

And, beyond, a Myrtle-tree

Stretch’d its blossoms out to me.

But a Priest with holy look,

In his hands a holy book,

Pronouncèd curses on his head

Who the fruits or blossoms shed.

I beheld the Priest by night;

He embrac’d my Myrtle bright:

I beheld the Priest by day,

Where beneath my vines he lay.

Like a serpent in the day

Underneath my vines he lay:

Like a serpent in the night

He embrac’d my Myrtle bright.

So I smote him, and his gore

Stain’d the roots my Myrtle bore;

But the time of youth is fled,

And grey hairs are on my head.