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

Verses from ‘The Gates of Paradise’

The Keys of the Gates

The Keys


Reminds thee of thy Mother’s grief.


of the Gates

My Eternal Man set in repose,

The Female from his darkness rose;

And she found me beneath a Tree,

Mandrake, and in her Veil hid me.

Serpent Reasonings us entice

Of good and evil, virtue and vice,

2.Doubt self-jealous, Watery folly;

3.Struggling thro’ Earth’s melancholy;

4.Naked in Air, in shame and fear;

5.Blind in Fire, with shield and spear;

Two-horn’d Reasoning, cloven fiction,

In doubt, which is self-contradiction,

A dark Hermaphrodite we stood—

Rational truth, root of evil and good.

Round me flew the Flaming Sword;

Round her snowy Whirlwinds roar’d,

Freezing her Veil, the Mundane Shell.

6.I rent the Veil where the Dead dwell:

When weary Man enters his Cave,

He meets his Saviour in the grave.

Some find a Female Garment there,

And some a Male, woven with care;

Lest the Sexual Garments sweet

Should grow a devouring Winding-sheet.

7.One dies! Alas! the Living and Dead!

One is slain! and One is fled!

8.In Vain-glory hatcht and nurst,

By double Spectres, self-accurst.

My Son! my Son! thou treatest me

But as I have instructed thee.

9.On the shadows of the Moon,

Climbing thro’ Night’s highest noon;

10.In Time’s Ocean falling, drown’d;

11.In Agèd Ignorance profound,

Holy and cold, I clipp’d the wings

Of all sublunary things,

12.And in depths of my dungeons

Closed the Father and the Sons.

13.But when once I did descry

The Immortal Man that cannot die,

14.Thro’ evening shades I haste away

To close the labours of my day.

15.The Door of Death I open found,

And the Worm weaving in the ground:

16.Thou’rt my Mother, from the womb;

Wife, Sister, Daughter, to the tomb;

Weaving to dreams the Sexual strife,

And weeping over the Web of Life.