William Blake set to "music"?

Surely I can’t be the first person who thought of this.


Tiger, tiger, burning bright, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
In the forests of the night, Oh, de doo-dah-day!
What immortal hand or eye, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? Oh, de doo-dah-day!

Gwine to burn all night
Gwine to burn all day…


Piping down the valleys wild, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Piping songs of pleasant glee, Oh, de doo-dah-day!
On a cloud I saw a child, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
And he laughing said to me: Oh, de doo-dah-day!

Gwine to pipe all night
Gwine to pipe all day…


Geez, and I LOVE these poems.

I’ve been reading Fark too long.

But Blake did call them “songs”, he whined, in a futile attempt to justify himself.

The English composer John Tavener has set *The Tiger * to music. It’s a lovely piece.


Well, that’s much worse than realizing all of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s poetry can be sung to the tune of ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’.

Though I could not stop for death,
He kindly stopped for me.
I like the Blake riff. Fark anyone who doesn’t.

That’s Dickinson, no?

You are absolutely right. My apologies to all dopers with more than two brain cells. :smack: I’m glad someone was awake in class that day.
Oh, yes. Angie Dickinson. My first crush, watching ‘Police Woman’ and a poet.

Fantastic lady. SD

Well, I suppose you could sing, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” to “Yellow Rose of Texas,” although you might find yourself stumbling over the syllables a bit.

Check out Tangerine Dream’s Tyger. The album is pretty much just William Blake poetry set to music. See (or hear, rather), for example, the titular song here.

I set “The Lamb” to music for piano and solo treble for an 11 year old voice student of mine, last year, for an Easter mass (which included baptisms). It was quite lovely :slight_smile:

Ulver did Themes from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”, which consists of the entire work set to music. It’s pretty far from easy listening, but definitely worth hearing if you’re a fan of Blake.

I’m amazed no one has yet mentioned Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s (ELP) version of Jerusalem which is Blake words coupled with melody by Parry (first name eludes me).


Songs of Innocence and Experience set to music

On the bonus CD of U2’s recent reissue of The Joshua Tree, there is a very beautiful instrumental piece accompanied by Bono half-singing/half-reciting Blake’s “Introduction” to Songs of Experience. It’s really nicely done and complements the rest of the music extremely well, sort of as a commentary on those songs 20 years later.

And The Lamb, which is an odd piece of writing, almost intellectually-masturbatory so, as he writes it so that as one line goes up by n semitones, the other goes down by the same amount. Not bad, but not wonderful IMO, and a bugger for an amateur choir to get to grips with.

Speaking of Dickinsons, Bruce Dickinson’s The Chemical Wedding is influenced by Blake and features some of his artwork. It also includes a version of Jerusalem.

The Fugs did “How Sweet I Roamed From Field to Field” on their first album.

I’ve always fallen into:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight!

Greg Brown does a great job of it on Songs of Innocence and of Experience

  1. Introduction
  2. The Lamb
  3. Infant Joy
  4. The Chimney Sweeper
  5. The Ecchoing Green
  6. Night
  7. On Anothers Sorrow
  8. The Tyger
  9. The Angel
  10. The Garden Of Love
  11. Infant Sorrow
  12. Holy Thursday
  13. Ah! Sun-flower
  14. The Little Vagabond
  15. A Poison Tree
  16. London

pssh! It’s ‘Tyger! Tyger!’