Ten Blake Songs

Song Cycle by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958)

Word count: 0

1. Infant Joy [sung text not yet checked]

"I have no name:
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty Joy!
Sweet Joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while,
Sweet joy befall thee!

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Дитя-радость", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. A poison tree [sung text not yet checked]

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 water'd it in fears,
Night & 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 veil'd the pole,
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Un arbre empoisonné", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Ein Giftbaum", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The piper [sung text not yet checked]

Piping down the valleys wild,
  Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
  And he laughing said to me:

"Pipe a song about a lamb."
  So I piped with merry chear.
"Piper, pipe that song again."
  So I piped: he wept to hear.

"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
  Sing thy songs of happy chear."
So I sang the same again,
  While he wept with joy to hear.

"Piper, sit thee down and write
  In a book, that all may read."
So he vanished from my sight;
  And I pluck'd a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
  And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
  Every child may joy to hear.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Вступление", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

4. London [sung text not yet checked]

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 black'ning 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.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Londres", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The lamb [sung text checked 1 time]

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and [bid]1 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 callèd 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 callèd by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "L'anyell", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Thomas Schubert) , "Das Lamm", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Агнец", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 MacNutt, Somervell: "bade"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

6. The shepherd [sung text checked 1 time]

How sweet is the Shepherd's sweet lot!
   From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
   And his tongue shall be fillèd with praise.

For he hears the lamb's innocent call,
   And he hears the ewe's tender reply;
He is watchful [while]1 they are in peace,
   For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "El pastor", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Cooke: "when"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

7. Ah! Sun-flower! weary of time [sung text not yet checked]

Ah, Sun-flower! 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 Sun-flower wishes to go.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Ah ! tournesol !", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Cruelty has a human heart [sung text checked 1 time]

Cruelty has a human heart,
 And Jealousy a human face,
Terror the human form divine,
 And Secrecy the human dress.

The human dress is forgèd iron,
 The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace seal'd,
 The human heart its hungry gorge.

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Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

9. The divine image [sung text checked 1 time]

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
 All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
 Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
 Is God, our Father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
 Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
 Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
 And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
 That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
 Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
 In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
When Mercy, Love and Pity dwell
 There God is dwelling too.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Thomas Schubert) , "Das Ebenbild Gottes", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Божественное подобие", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

10. Eternity

Note: this is a multi-text setting


He who [bends to himself]1 a Joy
Doth the wingèd life destroy;
But he who kisses the Joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise.

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Vaughan Williams: "binds himself"; Franceschini and J. White: "binds to himself"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry


The look of love alarms,
Because it's fill'd with fire;
But the look of soft deceit
Shall win the lover's hire.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]