Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MENTAL TRAVELLER, by WILLIAM BLAKE



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THE MENTAL TRAVELLER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I travel'd thro' a land of men
Last Line: And all is done as I have told.
Subject(s): Bible; Imagination; Mythology; Religion; Vision; Fancy; Theology


I travel'd thro' a Land of Men
A Land of Men & Women too,
And heard & saw such dreadful things
As cold Earth wanderers never knew.
For there the Babe is born in joy
That was begotten in dire woe,
Just as we Reap in joy the fruit
Which we in bitter tears did sow.
And if the Babe is born a Boy
He's given to a Woman Old,
Who nails him down upon a rock
Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.
She binds iron thorns around his head,
She pierces both his hands & feet,
She cuts his heart out at his side
To make it feel both cold & heat.
Her fingers number every Nerve
Just as a Miser counts his gold,
She lives upon his shrieks & cries
And she grows young as he grows old.
Till he becomes a bleeding youth
And she becomes a Virgin bright,
Then he rends up his Manacles
And binds her down for his delight.
He plants himself in all her Nerves
Just as a Husbandman his mould,
And she becomes his dwelling place
And Garden fruitful seventy fold.
An aged Shadow soon he fades
Wandring round an Earthly Cot,
Full filled all with gems & gold
Which he by industry had got.
And these are the gems of the Human Soul
The rubies & pearls of a lovesick eye,
The countless gold of the akeing heart
The martyr's groan & the lover's sigh.
They are his meat, they are his drink,
He feeds the Beggar & the Poor
And the wayfaring Traveller --
For ever open is his door.
His grief is their eternal joy,
They make the roofs & walls to ring,
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring.
And she is all of solid fire
And gems & gold, that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her Baby form
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band.
But She comes to the Man she loves
If young or old or rich or poor,
They soon drive out the aged Host,
A Beggar at another's door.
He wanders weeping far away
Untill some other take him in,
Oft blind & age-bent, sore distrest
Untill he can a Maiden win.
And to allay his freezing Age
The Poor Man takes her in his arms,
The Cottage fades before his sight,
The Garden & its lovely Charms.
The Guests are scattered thro' the land,
For the Eye altering alters all;
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball.
The Stars, Sun, Moon all shrink away --
A desart vast without a bound,
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desart all around.
The honey of her Infant lips
The bread & wine of her sweet smile
The wild game of her roving Eye
Does him to Infancy beguile.
For as he eats & drinks he grows
Younger & younger every day,
And on the desart wild they both
Wander in terror & dismay.
Like the wild Stag she flees away,
Her fear plants many a thicket wild;
While he pursues her night & day
By various arts of Love beguild,
By various arts of Love & Hate,
Till the wide desart planted o'er
With Labyrinths of wayward Love,
Where roams the Lion, Wolf, & Boar,
Till he becomes a wayward Babe
And she a weeping Woman Old;
Then many a Lover wanders here,
The Sun & Stars are nearer rolld.
The trees bring forth sweet Extacy
To all who in the desart roam,
Till many a City there is Built
And many a pleasant Shepherd's home.
But when they find the frowning Babe
Terror strikes thro' the region wide;
They cry "The Babe, the Babe is Born!"
And flee away on Every side.
For who dare touch the frowning form,
His arm is withered to its root;
Lions, Boars, Wolves, all howling flee,
And every Tree does shed its fruit.
And none can touch that frowning form
Except it be a Woman Old;
She nails him down upon the Rock,
And all is done as I have told.





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