Five Poems and an Epigram of William Blake

Song Cycle by (Peter) Alexander Goehr (b. 1932)

1. Never seek to tell thy love  [sung text not yet checked]

Never seek to tell thy love 
Love that never told [can]1 be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
[Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears]2 --
Ah, she [doth]3 depart.

Soon as she was gone from me
[A traveller came by]4
Silently, invisibly --
He took her with a sigh.

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1 Stöhr: "shall"
2 Stöhr: "Trembling between hope and fear"
3 Stöhr: "did"
4 Stöhr: "A boy chanced going by"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Johann Winkler

2. I laid me down upon a bank [sung text not yet checked]

I laid me down upon a bank,
Where Love lay sleeping;
I heard among the rushes dank
Weeping, weeping.

Then I went to the heath and the wild,
To the thistles and thorns of the waste;
And they told me how they were beguiled,
Driven out, and compelled to the chaste.

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. I saw a chapel all of gold  [sung text not yet checked]

I saw a chapel all of gold
That none did dare to enter in,
And many weeping stood without,
Weeping, mourning, worshipping.

I saw a serpent rise between
The white pillars of the door,
And he forc'd and forc'd and forc'd,
Down the golden hinges tore.

And along the pavement sweet,
Set with pearls and rubies bright,
All his slimy length he drew
Till upon the altar white

Vomiting his poison out
On the bread and on the wine.
So I turn'd into a sty
And laid me down among the swine.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. I asked a thief to steal me a peach  [sung text not yet checked]

I asked a thief to steal me a peach:
He turned up his eyes.
I ask'd a lithe lady to lie her down:
Holy and meek, she cries.

As soon as I went
An Angel came:
He wink'd at the thief,
And smil'd at the dame;

And without one word [said]1
Had a peach from the tree,
[And still as a maid]2
Enjoy'd the lady.

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1 Mitchell: "spoke"
2 Mitchell: "And between earnest and joke"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Epigram : The sword sung on the barren heath [sung text not yet checked]

The sword sung on the barren heath
The sickle in the fruitful field:
The sword sung a song of death,
But could not make the sickle yield.

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6. I heard an Angel singing  [sung text not yet checked]

I heard an Angel singing 
When the day was springing,
"Mercy, Pity, Peace
Is the world's release."
Thus he sung all day
Over the new mown hay,
Till the sun went down
And haycocks looked brown.
I heard a Devil curse
Over the heath and the furze,
"Mercy could be no more,
If there was nobody poor,
And pity no more could be,
If all were as happy as we."
At his curse the sun went down,
And the heavens gave a frown.
Down pour'd the heavy rain
Over the new reap'd grain ...
And Miseries' increase
Is Mercy, Pity, Peace.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Total word count: 488