Auguries of Innocence

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"Auguries of Innocence" is a poem by William Blake, from a notebook of his 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 Blake. The poem contains a series of paradoxes which speak of innocence juxtaposed with evil and corruption. It consists of 132 lines and has been published with and without breaks dividing it into stanzas. An augury is a sign or omen.

The poem begins:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour[2]

— Lines 1–4

It continues with a catalogue of moralising couplets, such as:

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage[2]

— Lines 5–6


The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spiders enmity[2]

— Lines 33–34

The following lines are quoted in full in the film Dead Man, in Agatha Christie's 1967 novel Endless Night, and the last triplet of these lines was used by Jim Morrison in the lyrics to The Doors' song End of the Night:

Every Night & 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


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online. "The Pickering Manuscript." Online. Accessed 13 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Blake, William (1988). Erdman, David V. (ed.). The Complete Poetry and Prose (Newly revised ed.). Anchor Books. p. 490. ISBN 0385152132.
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1986, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press