The Crystal Cabinet

James Bell

The Magic EP

  1. The Crystal Cabinet
"I strove to seize the inmost form / With ardour fierce and hands of flame..."


This is a William Blake poem set to the tune ‘The Hawthorn Tree’. If you read the critical analyses of this poem you will learn that it’s all about sex (and the cabinet is a reference to lady-parts). It’s a lonely life being a literary critic. Blake was divinely insane, and I think any attempts to ‘decode’ his poems are missing the point, but my hot take on the story here is that he found himself drawn into a romantic encounter that transformed the way he saw the world, but he then bollocksed it up and ended up back where he started, only a lot sadder. Also, there are angels.


The maiden caught me in the wild, Where I was dancing merrily; She put me into her Cabinet, And lock’d me up with a golden key. This Cabinet is form’d of gold And pearl and crystal shining bright, And within it opens into a world And a little lovely moony night. Another England there I saw, Another London with its Tower, Another Thames and other hills, And another pleasant Surrey bower, Another Maiden like herself, Translucent, lovely, shining clear, Threefold each in the other clos’d— O, what a pleasant trembling fear! O, what a smile! a threefold smile Fill’d me, that like a flame I burn’d; I bent to kiss the lovely Maid, And found a threefold kiss return’d. I strove to seize the inmost form With ardour fierce and hands of flame, But burst the Crystal Cabinet, And like a weeping Babe became— A weeping Babe upon the wild, And weeping Woman pale reclin’d, And in the outward air again I fill’d with woes the passing wind

Credits & Copyright

Words by William Blake. Music adapted and recorded in June 2010 by James Bell. Released in November 2010. Remastered in August 2017. (C) & (P) House of Lyra. All rights reserved.