Published in Blake’s 1789 book Songs of Innocence, ‘A Dream’ is about William Blake’s vision of three insects: an ant (‘emmet’), a beetle, and a glow-worm, which is in fact a kind of beetle. Not only that, but these are talking insects: the emmet confides that she has lost her children, and the bright glow-worm offers to light the way for her through the night, so she can recover them.
‘A Dream’ by William Blake
Once a dream did weave a shade
O’er my angel-guarded bed,
That an emmet lost its way
Where on grass methought I lay.
Troubled, wildered, and forlorn,
Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
Over many a tangle spray,
All heart-broke, I heard her say:
‘Oh my children! do they cry,
Do they hear their father sigh?
Now they look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me.’
Pitying, I dropped a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near,
Who replied, ‘What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night?
‘I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetle’s hum;
Little wanderer, hie thee home!’
If you enjoyed William Blake’s ‘A Dream’, you may also enjoy his classic poem about London.