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

Selections from ‘Milton’

[The Birds and the Flowers]

(Milton, f. 31, ll. 28–63.)

THOU hearest the Nightingale begin the Song of Spring:

The Lark, sitting upon his earthy bed, just as the morn

Appears, listens silent; then, springing from the waving corn-field, loud

He leads the Choir of Day—trill! trill! trill! trill!

Mounting upon the wings of light into the great Expanse,

Re-echoing against the lovely blue and shining heavenly Shell;

His little throat labours with inspiration; every feather

On throat and breast and wings vibrates with the effluence Divine’

All Nature listens silent to him, and the awful Sun

Stands still upon the mountain looking on this little Bird

With eyes of soft humility and wonder, love and awe.

Then loud from their green covert all the Birds begin their song:

The Thrush, the Linnet and the Goldfinch, Robin and the Wren

Awake the Sun from his sweet revery upon the mountain:

The Nightingale again assays his song, and thro’ the day

And thro’ the night warbles luxuriant; every Bird of song

Attending his loud harmony with admiration and love.

This is a Vision of the lamentation of Beulah over Ololon.

Thou perceivest the Flowers put forth their precious Odours;

And none can tell how from so small a centre comes such sweet,

Forgetting that within that centre Eternity expands

Its ever-during doors, that Og and Anak fiercely guard.

First, ere the morning breaks, joy opens in the flowery bosoms,

Joy even to tears, which the Sun rising dries: first the Wild Thyme

And Meadow-sweet, downy and soft, waving among the reeds,

Light springing on the air, lead the sweet dance; they wake

The Honeysuckle sleeping on the oak; the flaunting beauty

Revels along upon the wind; the White-thorn, lovely May,

Opens her many lovely eyes; listening the Rose still sleeps—

None dare to wake her; soon she bursts her crimson-curtain’d bed

And comes forth in the majesty of beauty. Every Flower,

The Pink, the Jessamine, the Wallflower, the Carnation,

The Jonquil, the mild Lily opes her heavens; every Tree

And Flower and Herb soon fill the air with an innumerable dance,

Yet all in order sweet and lovely. Men are sick with love!

Such is a Vision of the lamentation of Beulah over Ololon.