William Blake (1757-1827) was a (Pre-)Romantic English poet, painter and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, William Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.



It is the dark, mystical and philosophical undercurrent in Blake's poems that inspired Daisy Bell to create a programme around these texts and to present them within a contemporary musical framework, revealing the undiminished urgency of their universal themes.

THE SICK ROSE

 

O Rose, thou art sick!

The invisible Worm

That flies in the Night,

In the howling Storm,

 

Has found out thy Bed

Of crimson Joy:

And his dark secret Love

Does thy Life destroy.

THE LILY

The modest Rose
Puts forth a Thorn,
The humble Sheep
A threat'ning Horn:

While the Lily white
Shall in Love delight,
Nor a Thorn nor a Threat
Stain her Beauty bright.

 

MAD SONG

The wild Winds weep
And the Night is a-cold;
Come hither, Sleep,
And my Griefs infold:
But lo! the Morning peeps
Over the eastern Steeps,
And the rustling Birds of Dawn
The Earth do scorn.

Lo! to the Vault
Of paved Heaven,
With Sorrow fraught
My Notes are driven:
They strike the Ear of Night,
Make weep the Eyes of Day;
They make mad the roaring Winds,
And with Tempests play.

Like a Fiend in a Cloud,
With howling Woe,
After Night I do crowd,
And with Night will go;
I turn my Back to the East,
From whence Comforts have increas'd;
For Light doth seize my Brain
With frantic Pain.

THE FLY

Little Fly,
Thy Summer's Play
My thoughtless Hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I,
A Fly like thee?
Or art not thou,
A Man like me?

For I dance,
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind Hand
Shall brush my Wing.

If Thought is Life,
And Strength and Breath
And the Want,
of Thought is Death;

Then am I,
A happy Fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

 

 

LONDON

I wander through each chartered Street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A Mark in every Face I meet,
Marks of Weakness, Marks of Woe.

In every Cry of every Man,
In every Infant's Cry of Fear,
In every Voice, in every Ban,
The mind-forged Manacles I hear:

How the Chimney-Sweeper's Cry
Every blackening Church appals,
And the hapless Soldier's Sigh
Runs in Blood down Palace-Walls.

But most, through Midnight Streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's Curse
Blasts the new-born Infant's Tear,
And blights with Plagues the Marriage-Hearse.

 

TO SEE

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand
And Eternity in an Hour.

ETERNITY

He who binds to himself a Joy
Does the winged Life destroy;
But he who kisses the Joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's Sunrise.

INFANT SORROW

My Mother groaned, 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.

 

 

A POISON TREE

I was angry with my Friend:
I told my Wrath, my Wrath did end.
I was angry with my Foe:
I told it not, my Wrath did grow.

And I watered it in Fears,
Night and Morning with my Tears;
And I sunned it with my Smiles,
And with soft deceitful Wiles.

And it grew both Day and Night,
Till it bore an Apple bright.
And my Foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my Garden stole
When the Night had veiled the Pole;
In the Morning glad I see
My Foe outstretched beneath the Tree.


 

TO NOBODADDY

Why art thou silent and invisible
Father of Jealousy?
Why dost thou hide thyself in Clouds
From every searching Eye?

Why Darkness and Obscurity
In all thy Words and Laws?
That none dare eat the Fruit but from
The wily Serpent’s Jaws?
Or is it because Secrecy
Gains Females’ loud Applause?