by William Blake (1757 - 1827)

My mother bore me in the southern wild
Language: English 
My mother bore me in the southern wild, 
  And I am black, but O! my soul is white!
White as an angel is the English child, 
  But I am black, as if bereaved of light. 

My mother taught me underneath a tree, 
  And, sitting down before the heat of day, 
She took me on her lap and kissèd me, 
  And, pointing to the East, began to say: 

"Look [at]2 the rising sun: there God does live, 
  And gives His light, and gives His heat away, 
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive 
  Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday. 

"And we are put on earth a little space, 
  That we may learn to bear the beams of love; 
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face 
  [Are]1 but a cloud, and like a shady grove. 

"For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear, 
  The cloud will vanish; we shall hear His voice, 
Saying: `Come out from the grove, my love and care,
  And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' " 

Thus did my mother say, and kissèd me;
  And thus I say to little English boy: 
When I from black and he from white cloud free, 
  And round the tent of God like lambs we joy, 

I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear 
  To lean in joy upon our Father's knee; 
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, 
  And be like him, and he will then love me.

H. Cowell sets stanzas 2-5

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bolcom: "Is"
2 Bolcom, Cowell: "on"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

This text was added to the website: 2005-01-16
Line count: 28
Word count: 248