The Poems of William Blake

The Poems of William Blake Summary and Analysis of Memory Come Hither


In “Memory, hither come,” we have a speaker who implores “memory” to transport him to some imaginary river where he may withdraw from the realities of the world and be inspired to write poetry. In the end, both the “stream” and his imagination fail him in his requests, leaving him to “walk along the darkened alley” at night in a state of “silent melancholy.”


Some Blake scholars argue that this poem is an extension of “To the Muses” because of its demonstration of the speaker’s (poet’s) ability to be inspired, see things in an imaginative state, and create art. In both scenarios, we have the inspiration of nature being represented in water, this time the great sea where the muses look over has been dwindled to a small brook. The tone of the poem is also similar. In one reading, Blake appears to be mocking the speaker for seeking poetry in his memory rather than his imagination. To Blake, the memory is a passive voice whereas the imagination is an active one.

Either way, the point is still made that the poet within the poem is wrongfully concentrating on the trivialities of real-life nature rather than metaphor. He clings to a daytime memory instead of creating from within his own artistic ability to shape nature with alternative images and symbols and this only leads him to a self-centered state of pity and nighttime brooding. Memory also symbolizes the inability to be productive at all in the face of procrastination; the speaker here chooses to commit his experiences to memory so that he can transform them to poetry at a later time.

Finally, there is a narcissistic, selfish urge in the speaker. Rather than going to his inspirational source, e beckons memory to come to him in the first line. As a result, everything becomes stifled and stale, the state of mind (and society) with which Blake has absolute no patience for. By suggesting memory hold the speaker’s thoughts, he escapes the duty to actively live, therefore missing the point of inspiration and articulation altogether.