The Garden of Love

From: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience (1794) by William Blake

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Kingdom Hall built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this building were shut
And ‘Thou shalt not,’ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
Elders in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

A little girl I spied me there
who sang sad songs of woe and death
and shivered in the fetid gloom
and struggled for her every breath.

“Come away and play with me!
Away from bogus rules and lies
we’ll journey through this flowering world
where light shines through unfettered skies!”

Then grieved to see I’d called in vain.
She turned away in sad lament:
“If false or true, I cannot go with you.
I don’t know how to play; just ‘listen and obey.'”

(Slightly altered & with additional verses by Steve McRoberts)

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