'Auguries of Innocence' by William Blake

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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.

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill'd with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his Master's Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus'd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.
Every Wolf's & Lion's howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand'ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus'd breeds public strife
And yet forgives the Butcher's Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won't believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov'd by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by Woman lov'd.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider's enmity.
He who torments the Chafer's sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Catterpillar on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother's grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar's Dog & Widow's Cat,
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer's song
Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envy's Foot.
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artist's Jealousy.
The Prince's Robes & Beggars' Rags
Are Toadstools on the Miser's Bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy & Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro' the World we safely go.
Joy & Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The Babe is more than swadling Bands;
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made, & born were hands,
Every Farmer Understands.
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity.
This is caught by Females bright
And return'd to its own delight.
The Bleat, the Bark, Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heaven's Shore.
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of death.
The Beggar's Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
The Soldier arm'd with Sword & Gun,
Palsied strikes the Summer's Sun.
The poor Man's Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Afric's Shore.
One Mite wrung from the Labrer's hands
Shall buy & sell the Miser's lands:
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole Nation sell & buy.
He who mocks the Infant's Faith
Shall be mock'd in Age & Death.
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the Infant's faith
Triumph's over Hell & Death.
The Child's Toys & the Old Man's Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons.
The Questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to Reply.
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out.
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesar's Laurel Crown.
Nought can deform the Human Race
Like the Armour's iron brace.
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow.
A Riddle or the Cricket's Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply.
The Emmet's Inch & Eagle's Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile.
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you Please.
If the Sun & Moon should doubt
They'd immediately Go out.
To be in a Passion you Good may do,
But no Good if a Passion is in you.
The Whore & Gambler, by the State
Licenc'd, build that Nation's Fate.
The Harlot's cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old England's winding Sheet.
The Winner's Shout, the Loser's Curse,
Dance before dead England's Hearse.
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet Delight.
Some ar Born to sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro' the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Profound Insights of William Blake's Auguries of Innocence

William Blake's Auguries of Innocence is a work of visionary poetry that explores the complexities of human existence and the interconnection between all living things. The poem is a masterpiece of poetic thought that captures the essence of human experience through the use of evocative imagery, powerful language, and profound insights into the nature of life itself. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the many layers of meaning contained within this iconic poem, and examine the ways in which Blake's unique style and perspective have made Auguries of Innocence an enduring masterpiece of English literature.

Context and Background

Before we delve into the poem itself, it is important to consider the context in which it was written. William Blake was born in London in 1757, and he lived and worked there for most of his life. He was a poet, artist, and visionary who rejected the conventions of his time and sought to create a new language of art and poetry that would express the deepest truths of human experience. Blake's work was heavily influenced by his spiritual beliefs, which drew on a range of mystical and esoteric traditions, including Christianity, theosophy, and alchemy.

Blake was also deeply committed to the ideals of the French Revolution, which he saw as a struggle for human freedom and equality. He believed that the existing social order was corrupt and oppressive, and that the only way to achieve true justice and liberation was through a radical transformation of society and consciousness. These themes are reflected in Auguries of Innocence, which is a poem that speaks to the fundamental issues of human existence, including life, death, love, and suffering.

Structure and Style

Auguries of Innocence is a poem of 132 lines, arranged in four-line stanzas. The poem is characterized by its distinctive use of imagery and metaphor, which create a sense of depth and complexity that is rare in English poetry. Blake's language is rich and evocative, drawing on a range of poetic devices, including repetition, alliteration, and rhyme. The poem also displays Blake's unique approach to syntax, which allows him to create a sense of rhythm and flow that is both powerful and unpredictable.

One of the defining features of Auguries of Innocence is its use of paradox and contradiction. Throughout the poem, Blake juxtaposes seemingly opposing ideas and images, creating a sense of tension and complexity that reflects the essential ambiguity of the human experience. For example, the poem begins with the famous lines:

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.

These lines are a perfect example of Blake's ability to synthesize seemingly disparate ideas into a single, powerful image. The idea of seeing a world in a grain of sand, or a heaven in a wildflower, suggests that the most profound truths of existence can be found in the smallest and most humble objects. At the same time, the image of holding infinity in the palm of your hand, or eternity in an hour, suggests that the most profound experiences of life are fleeting and elusive, and that our attempts to grasp them are always incomplete.

Themes and Interpretations

Auguries of Innocence is a deeply philosophical poem that explores a range of themes related to the human experience. One of the most important of these themes is the idea of innocence. Blake believed that human beings are born with an innate sense of innocence and purity, which is gradually corrupted by the forces of society and civilization. The poem suggests that this loss of innocence is both tragic and inevitable, and that it is the source of much of the suffering and pain that we experience in our lives.

Another important theme of Auguries of Innocence is the idea of interconnectedness. Blake believed that all living things are connected in profound and mysterious ways, and that our attempts to isolate ourselves from the world around us are ultimately futile. The poem suggests that the boundaries between self and other, human and animal, and even life and death, are not as firm and fixed as we might imagine. Instead, Blake suggests that we are all part of a vast and interconnected web of life, and that our actions and experiences have ripple effects that extend far beyond our individual selves.

A related theme of the poem is the idea of mortality. Blake believed that death is an inevitable and natural part of the human experience, and that our attempts to deny or avoid it only lead to greater suffering. The poem suggests that our awareness of our own mortality is a gift, in that it allows us to appreciate the beauty and fragility of life in a way that we might not otherwise be able to. At the same time, the poem suggests that our fear of death can also be a source of great sorrow and pain, as we are forced to confront the ultimate limits of our own existence.


Auguries of Innocence is a masterpiece of English poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Through its evocative imagery, powerful language, and profound insights, the poem offers a unique perspective on the essential questions of human existence. Blake's focus on the themes of innocence, interconnectedness, and mortality speaks to the deepest concerns of the human spirit, and his poetic language allows us to glimpse the transcendent truths that underlie our everyday experience. In the end, Auguries of Innocence reminds us that our lives are part of something much larger and more mysterious than we can ever fully comprehend, and that our attempts to understand this mystery are what give our lives meaning and purpose.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence is a timeless masterpiece that has captured the hearts of poetry lovers for centuries. This poem is a reflection of Blake’s belief that innocence is a divine quality that is often lost in the chaos of the world. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in Auguries of Innocence.

The poem begins with the famous lines, “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.” These lines set the tone for the entire poem, as they suggest that the world is full of wonder and beauty, and that it is possible to find meaning in even the smallest things. The idea of holding infinity in the palm of your hand is particularly powerful, as it suggests that we have the power to control our own destiny.

The poem is structured in quatrains, with each stanza containing four lines. This structure gives the poem a sense of order and balance, which is in contrast to the chaotic world that Blake is describing. The use of rhyme and repetition also adds to the poem’s musicality and rhythm. For example, the repetition of the word “every” in the second stanza creates a sense of unity and inclusiveness.

One of the main themes of Auguries of Innocence is the idea that innocence is a divine quality that is often lost in the chaos of the world. Blake suggests that we should strive to maintain our innocence, even in the face of adversity. This is evident in lines such as “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.” Here, Blake is suggesting that we should not try to hold onto our joy too tightly, as this will only lead to its destruction. Instead, we should appreciate the fleeting moments of happiness and find joy in the present moment.

Another theme of the poem is the idea that everything is connected. Blake suggests that there is a spiritual unity that connects all things, and that we should strive to see the world in this way. This is evident in lines such as “The bird a nest, the spider a web, Man friendship.” Here, Blake is suggesting that even the smallest creatures have a place in the world, and that we should appreciate the interconnectedness of all things.

The poem also explores the idea of the duality of human nature. Blake suggests that there is both good and evil within us, and that we must strive to find a balance between the two. This is evident in lines such as “Every night and every morn, Some to misery are born, Every morn and every night, Some are born to sweet delight.” Here, Blake is suggesting that life is a balance between joy and sorrow, and that we must learn to accept both.

Blake uses a variety of literary devices in Auguries of Innocence to convey his message. One of the most prominent devices is imagery. Blake uses vivid and descriptive language to create powerful images in the reader’s mind. For example, in the line “The cut worm forgives the plow,” Blake is using the image of a worm being cut in half by a plow to suggest that forgiveness is a powerful and transformative force.

Another literary device used in the poem is symbolism. Blake uses symbols to represent abstract ideas and concepts. For example, the “tiger” in the poem is a symbol of the destructive and chaotic nature of the world. The “lamb,” on the other hand, is a symbol of innocence and purity.

In conclusion, Auguries of Innocence is a powerful and timeless poem that explores the themes of innocence, interconnectedness, and the duality of human nature. Blake’s use of vivid imagery, symbolism, and literary devices creates a sense of wonder and beauty that is both inspiring and thought-provoking. This poem reminds us that even in the midst of chaos and turmoil, there is still beauty and meaning to be found in the world.

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