William Blake 
 The Four Zoas 

What is the price of Experience? 
Do men buy it for a song?
Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children.
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
And in the wither'd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain.
It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun
And in the vintage and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn.
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted,
To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer,
To listen to the hungry raven's cry in wintry season
When the red blood is fill'd with wine and with the marrow of lambs.

It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements,
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;
To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast;
To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies' house;
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, and the sickness that cuts off his children
While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door, and our children bring fruits and flowers.

Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten, and the slave grinding at the mill,
And the captive in chains, and the poor in the prison, and the soldier in the field
When the shatter'd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead.

It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity:
Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me."


  1. Once again, and I am just being real, I have no idea what that means. I read it twice. I am seriously starting to feel like a fool. There are just certain things where I just draw a blank!

    (At least I don't bs and just say that was wonderful)

    How about email me and tell me what this means.

  2. OKay, Otin I’m coming over.

    I believe this to be a confession and an apology. I think the ‘easy’ part is... the believing feeling of good when the good is going.
    It is in those moments we feel invincible, that the dark side of fate cannot touch you... and in this feeling, on the other side of compassion, beware of the revenge that may spring up that may rejoice in others pain... “but it is not so with me”.
    It is poetry, it is telescoped, this is only part of the work, there is much more...

  3. Yes, it is so easy to preach adivce to others having hard times when we are having good. Beautiful words.

  4. I love Blake! and this except is awesome! thanks for this!

  5. See also under Ursula LeGuinn's "The ones who walk away from Omelas".

    Hmm...Ursula Leguinn having a conversation with William Blake.

  6. To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;

    This is not so with me, either.

  7. Ah yes! Le Guin, the rules change in the reaches... -J

  8. gla dyou posted that comment...it is easy to be up when all is well...it is entirely different to be up when your world is not...

  9. I love Blake too. These are beautiful words. A good reminder to check oneself before speaking- to ask oneself- 'am I being ego-centred? how is the other person feeling?'

  10. A timely post. I always enjoy Blake. I've enjoyed reading your explanation of its meaning too. Thank you :)

  11. good choice for the onset of colder days. I'm thnakful the heater is running.

  12. beautiful offering for us all, on any day! thanks for sharing!