Excerpts from “[To Thomas Butts]: With Happiness stretch’d across the hills” (ASL)

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Image description: A white young man is standing in front of a orangish/whitish wall. He is wearing a white T-shirt, grey-ish pants, and a brown belt. He is showing the thorns of a plant as the plant is tapping someone else’s shoulder.

Purpose: I translated this poem to demonstrate how ASL can express abstract ideas in a clear yet aesthetically pleasing way.

Translation notes: Technically, “what comes to her from Heaven” implies scantiness, but I made it so that she finds fulfillment.

Title: Excerpts from “[To Thomas Butts]: With Happiness stretch’d across the hills”

Author: William Blake

English text:

… and before my way
A frowning thistle implores my stay.
What to others a trifle appears
Fills me full of smiles or tears;
For double the vision my eyes do see,
And a double vision is always with me.
With my inward eye, ’tis an Old Man grey,
With my outward, a Thistle across my way.
‘If thou goest back.’ the Thistle said,
‘Thou art to endless woe betray’d;

Then Los appear’d in all his power:
In the sun he appear’d, descending before
My face in fierce flames; in my double sight
’Twas outward a sun, inward Los in his might.
‘My hands are labour’d day and night,
And ease comes never in my sight.
My wife has no indulgence given
Except what comes to her from Heaven.
We eat little, we drink less,
This Earth breeds not our happiness.
Another sun feeds our life’s streams,
We are not warmèd with thy beams;
Thou measurest not the time to me,
Nor yet the space that I do see;
My mind is not with thy light array’d,
Thy terrors shall not make me afraid.’

Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me;
’Tis fourfold in my supreme delight,
And threefold in soft Beulah’s night,
And twofold always.—May God us keep
From single vision, and Newton’s sleep!

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