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auguries of innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heav’n in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage;
A dove-house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro’ all its regions;
A dog starved at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state;
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood;
Each outcry of the hunted hare,
A fibre from the brain does tear;
A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing;
The game-cock clipt and armed for fight
Does the rising sun affright;
Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul;
The wild deer, wand’ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care;
The lamb misus’d breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife;
The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won’t believe
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever’s fright;
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov’d by men;
He who the ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by woman lov’d;
The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider’s enmity;
He who torments the chafer’s sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night;
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief;
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgement draweth nigh
He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar;
The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat;
The gnat that sings his summer’s song
Poison gets from slander’s tongue;
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy’s foot;
The poison of the honey-bee
Is the artist’s jealousy;
The prince’s robes and beggars’ rags
Are toadstools on the miser’s bags;
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so,
Man was made for joy and woe;
And, when this we rightly know,
Thro’ the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling-bands;
Throughout all these human lands
Tools were made, and born were hands,
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright,
And return’d to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar’s rags, fluttering in air,
Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier arm’d with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.
The poor man’s farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.
One mite, wrung from the labourer’s hands,
Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant’s faith,
Shall be mock’d in age and death;
He who shall teach the child to doubt,
The rotting grave shall ne’er get out;
He who respects the infant’s faith,
Triumphs over hell and death;
The child’s toys, and the old man’s reasons,
Are the fruits of the two seasons;
The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply;
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out;
The strongest poison ever known,
Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race,
Like the armour’s iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plough,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket’s cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet’s inch, and eagle’s mile,
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees,
Will ne’er believe, do what you Please.;
If the sun and moon should doubt,
They’d immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.

The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet.
The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born;
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight;
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie,
When we see not thro’ the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

Books on the topic of this poem may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

We hope you will join us in The Imaginative Conservative community. The Imaginative Conservative is an on-line journal for those who seek the True, the Good and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, Richard Weaver, M.E. Bradford, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson, Paul Elmer More and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism. Some conservatives may look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.” The Imaginative Conservative offers to our families, our communities, and the Republic, a conservatism of hope, grace, charity, gratitude and prayer.

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