William Blake Poems That Will Make You Love His Works

William Blake poems

William Blake is one of the most well-known and most-read English poets with his lyrical poetry focusing on human nature, thoughts, relations, and nature. Blake was mostly unknown during his active years and became famous posthumously. Blake wrote about 38 poems in his lifetime with The Tyger, The Lamb, and London being the most famous ones. There are more William Blake poems that needs to be presented to the audience which deserves recognition.

Blake was a religious man but with a complicated relationship with God, trying to identify the mysterious nature of the creator. Much like other Romantic poets, he loved nature and its connection to the human soul. With the powerful use of metaphors, rhyme, and meaning, Blake has written some of the most influential poems that I’ve ever read. So here are some of the best William Blake poems that you’ll love, with a brief description. 

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.

Starting with a short and simply constructed poem but with profound meaning, The Sick Rose is the tale of corruption, of the malevolent intent disguised as love and passion. With the help of a flower, Blake talks about the ways passion can lead us to do things that we wouldn’t be proud of. The brilliant use of symbolism and metaphors makes this poem so great. You can read the entire analysis of this poem here. 

The Tyger

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,

And water’d heaven with their tears,

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tyger is the poem that most people know William Blake. Not just his, but this is perhaps one of the most famous and iconic poems, right there in the league of The Road not Taken and such. This poem talks about the fierce nature of the tiger. But at the same time, Blake also invokes the image of God that has created this beast. By describing the creation, Blake is also describing the creator.

The poem shows the dual nature of God, where is not just meek and polite but also fierce and powerful beyond human comprehension. This is where the brilliance of Blake’s poetry lies; he gives complex ideas a form so simple and beautiful while using metaphors so easy to take in. You can read more about The Tyger poem and what makes it so powerful here.

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.

The brilliance of Blake’s perception of the world can be seen in this poem. By comparing a simple fly with human life, Blake extracts the essence and meaning of being alive, the purpose of life and so much more. The poem is as simple as it could get, mostly made of monosyllabic words making short sentences. And yet look at the meaning of the poem, the philosophical implications. 

You can read the entire analysis of The Fly poem here.

Ah! Sunflower

Ah! sunflower, weary of time,

Who countest the steps of the sun,

Seeking after that sweet golden clime

Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the youth pined away with desire,

And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,

Arise from their graves and aspire;

Where my sunflower wishes to go.

Ah! Sunflower is another short yet powerful poem containing complex religious and philosophical ideas. With the use of sunflower as the subject, Blake talks about the ever-sought heaven, the final destination. The sunflowers are also representative of humans who are bound to earth with their earthly desires, just like a sunflower rooted in the soil. 

You can read more about this poem here.

London 

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,

Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,

And 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-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry

Every blackning Church appalls;

And the hapless Soldier’s sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlot’s curse

Blasts the new-born Infant’s tear,

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

London is a poem that is more visual than lyrical, taking the readers back to the dark times when London was filled with smoke-spewing, rotting hell of city with people living on the streets, unemployed. Crime was rampant and misery was present everywhere. Take a walk in one of the streets of London and look at the condition of people living at the time of Blake. This poem also serves as an example of the destruction caused by industrialization, something which Blake detested. There’s more to this poem if we look into it in details. Read a dedicated article for this poem here.

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 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.

A Poison Tree is a poem about friendship and death, about the hatred that is often cultivated by us knowingly. The poem talks about the complex ideas of psychology, how we choose to nurture hate towards someone, and then it comes so toxic, so poisonous that even a little bit of the poison can kill anyone; which means it is enough to destroy them.

But at the same time, we are unaware that this very poisonous tree that we’ve been growing inside our mind has turned into a poisonous forest, destroying everything about us, changing us completely. 

You can read a detailed analysis of this poem here.

The Lamb

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee,

Gave thee life, and bid thee feed

By the stream and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, woolly, bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice?

Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:

He is called by thy name,

For He calls Himself a Lamb.

He is meek, and He is mild,

He became a little child.

I a child, and thou a lamb,

We are called by His name.

Little lamb, God bless thee!

Little lamb, God bless thee!

The Lamb is the counterpart for the poem mentioned above, The Tyger. This poem also serves as another image of God, but it projects a different image. Unlike that in The Tyger, here God is shown to be like a lamb, meek, calm, and loving. He is shown as beautiful as nature and the creature he has created. God here is shown to be an innocent one. 

You can read a detailed analysis and meaning of this poem here.

Love’s Secret

Never seek to tell thy love,

  Love that never told can be;

For the gentle wind doth move

  Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,

  I told her all my heart,

Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.

  Ah! she did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me,

  A traveller came by,

Silently, invisibly:

  He took her with a sigh.

Perhaps one of the very few love poems by Blake, per usual, this poem is a short yet very powerful one. Blake tackles the idea and nature of love, and how to express it. For many readers, the message may be confusing; Should one not reveal their love to the people they love? No, the meaning of this poem is different. 

What Blake is trying to say is love shall always be subtle, never overbearing. Like the wind that blows gently and invisibly, one shall always feel the wind but never notice it. When love becomes a hindrance, a sort of manic obsession, it creates a problem. The wind becomes a storm. 

These were some of our favorite William Blake poems, ranging from love poems, poems about nature, and all the way to friendship and hatred. This concludes the article.

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