William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

The Annotated Proverbs of Hell

Once upon a time, a very long short time ago, I “annotated” William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell. Written in 2007 during the months of November and December, my sixty-nine mostly odd, somewhat awkward, likely absurd poetic responses to the Proverbs comprise the entire sixteenth volume of Songs and Letters. The Proverbs are from the 1994 Dover edition of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Here is the sixth:

The cut worm forgives the plow.

But the plow cannot forgive itself;

Out of the ground, it rusts in the rain,
Without purpose waiting to be cleansed.

It knows what the worm knows:
To work is to live.

Says the worm, “To bleed is to multiply.”

Says the plow, “I have no family tree,
And so I dream of spring.”

And the earth smiles to hear such things.

~ ~ ~

Seen early this morning near Goose Lake: Wild teasel. Prickly lettuce. Moth mullein.

July 22, 2021


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Categories: New Poems & Pieces, Songs and Letters

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