Study Guide

Auguries of Innocence Prince's Robes, Beggar's Rags, and Miser's Rags

By William Blake

Prince's Robes, Beggar's Rags, and Miser's Rags

The Prince's Robes & Beggars' Rags
Are Toadstools on the Miser's Bags.
(51-52)

The Beggar's Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
(75-76)

Blake doesn't have a passion for fashion—but he does bring up this clothing metaphor twice. In the first example, rags and robes symbolize inequality (duh), but the rags in the second example are doing something else: they're tearing apart the heavens. It's still a protest against poverty, but it's also an example of how a beggar isn't someone you should just ignore or write off. His rags are causing this massive catastrophe. They're tearing the heavens to pieces. Blake's challenging people's complacency, suggesting that casual suffering, to which people typically don't pay attention, has this massive, unseen effect: it's ruining reality itself.

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