30 July 2018 by Roy Preece
This poem is causing lots of argument among admirers of William Blake, an English poet, artist and mystic.
Experts can’t agree about where to put the commas! At last, after 200 years, a tombstone is being made for Blake’s grave and this poem is inscribed on the stone.
This is the original poem as found in Blake’s own notebook. No commas at all! Experts feel there ought to be some but can’t agree about where to put them.
But the published version has commas, apostrophes, full stops and even a semi-colon. Like this: -
To the Christians
I GIVE you the end of a golden string;
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate,
Built in Jerusalem’s wall.…
(Maybe they were put in by the publisher and are not Blake’s at all.) We feel some of this punctuation is right and necessary and some is optional and stylistic.
How would you punctuate this poem, and why? We’d love to know what you think.
You can find out what Su Yen thinks of the poems of William Blake in her book Dear Su Yen.