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  • Kirk Barbera

The Pastoral Poems of William Blake

Updated: Jan 22



On this episode I cover three very short poems by William Blake in his Songs of Innocence and Experience:

1) The Shepherd 2) The Lamb 3) Spring

These are the pastoral poems in this book of poetry. You'll learn the difference between a pastoral poem and a georgic poem and why that is important. Also, we'll explore the deeper themes recurring throughout this work by Blake.


Below are the poems read during the podcast and beneath the poems are the pictures and paintings referred to in this episode.

THE SHEPHERD

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 filled with praise.

For he hears the lambs' innocent call,

And he hears the ewes' tender reply;

He is watchful while they are in peace,

For they know when their shepherd is nigh.


COMPARISON POEM

From Georgics, by Virgil:

The time has come for my groaning ox to drag

My heavy plow across the fields, so that

The plow blade shines as the furrow rubs

against it.

Not till the earth has been twice plowed, so twice

Exposed to sun and twice to coolness will

It yield what the farmer prays for...


THE LAMB

Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

Gave thee life & bid thee feed.

By the stream & o'er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing wooly 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 called by thy name,

For he calls himself a Lamb:

He is meek & he is mild,

He became a little child:

I a child & thou a lamb,

We are called by his name.

Little Lamb God bless thee.

Little Lamb God bless thee.


THE SPRING

Sound the flute!

Now it's mute!

Birds delight,

Day and night,

Nightingale,

In the dale,

Lark in sky, -

Merrily,

Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.

Little boy,

Full of joy;

Little girl,

Sweet and small;

Cock does crow,

So do you;

Merry voice,

Infant noise;

Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,

Here I am;

Come and lick

My white neck;

Let me pull

Your soft wool;

Let me kiss

Your soft face;

Merrily, merrily we welcome in the year.



Image of "pastoral" poem.


Image for "Georgic" poem.