Auguries of Innocence

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This article is about the poem by William Blake. For the book of the same name by Patti Smith, see Auguries of Innocence (Patti Smith poems).

Auguries of Innocence is a poem from one of William Blake's notebooks now known as The Pickering Manuscript.[1] It is assumed to have been written in 1803, but was not published until 1863 in the companion volume to Alexander Gilchrist's biography of William Blake. The poem contains a series of paradoxes which speak of innocence juxtaposed with evil and corruption. The poem is 132 lines and has been published with and without breaks that divide the poem into stanzas. An augury is a sign or omen.

Lines from the poem were set to music in 1965 by Benjamin Britten as part of his song cycle Songs and Proverbs of William Blake.

The Agatha Christie novel "Endless Night"'s title was inspired by this poem. Six lines of the poem were recited in a 1995 film, Dead Man. The lines were recited by the character named Nobody.[2]

On May 10, 2015, the first four lines of the poem were recited in Season 2 Episode 2 (titled "Verbis Diablo" [3]) of the television series Penny dreadful (disambiguation). The four lines were recited by the character "The Creature" better known as John Clare (played by Rory Kinnear) to the character Vanessa Ives (played by Eva Green) during a conversation the two were having about theology and philosophy.

In 2016, a verse of the poem is quoted in the E3 trailer for Hideo Kojima's game Death Stranding.


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online. "The Pickering Manuscript." Online. Accessed December 13, 2010.
  2. ^ "You Tube clip"  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Penny Dreadful Episode List." IMDB., Inc., May 10, 2015. Web. September 2, 2016.
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1986, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press