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William Blake’s To The Evening Star

TO THE EVENING STAR

THOU fair-hair’d angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
Smile on our loves, and while thou drawest the
Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew
On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes
In timely sleep. Let thy west wind sleep on
The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes,
And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon,
Dost thou withdraw; then the wolf rages wide,
And then the lion glares thro’ the dun forest:
The fleeces of our flocks are cover’d with
Thy sacred dew: protect them with thine influence.


The words are simple, but the poem excites. The second line ends with the enjambment light. Light can be a noun or a verb, and for me when I come across it, it feels like a noun but it’s a verb surprising me lighting its bright torch of love. It’s a sexy poem too and for Blake’s time anarchic as well: there are no end rhymes and the fifth line ends with the. The what? The blue curtains of the sky drawn by the star as Blake and his love lie down in their evening bed. With the oxymoron speak, silence in the middle of the ninth line, the sonnet opens its mouth and washes the dusk with silver. Silver, evening, smile, dew, eyes and sleep are repeated. I appreciate this because when I’m writing I sometimes want to repeat a word and feel it might be redundant or lazy on my part, but if it feels right and sounds right, then, of course, I ought to do it. Blake doesn’t follow the sonnet form either of eight lines to present an argument or a question and six lines to answer or resolve it, what is called the octave and the sestet. Any old Nazi can follow rules—all the poet has to do is be beautiful.

Comus and his Revelers by William Blake (1815)


2 Comments

  1. Posted 13 Mar ’18 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Well done.

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