Previous | Table Of Contents | Next
The song of the Agèd Mother, which shook the heavens with wrath,
Hearing the march of long-resounding, strong, heroic Verse,
Marshall'd in order for the day of Intellectual Battle.
Four Mighty Ones are in every Man: a perfect Unity
Cannot exist but from the Universal Brotherhood of Eden,
The Universal Man, to Whom be glory evermore. Amen.
What are the Natures of those Living Creatures the Heavenly Father only
Knoweth: no Individual knoweth, nor can know in all Eternity.
Enion brooded o'er the rocks: the rough rocks groaning vegetate --
Such power was given to the solitary Wanderer --
The barkèd Oak, the long-limb'd Beech, the Chestnut-tree, the Pine,
The Pear-tree mild, the frowning Walnut, the sharp Crab, and Apple sweet
The rough bark opens, twittering peep forth little beaks and wings,
The Nightingale, the Goldfinch, Robin, Lark, Linnet and Thrush;
The Goat leap'd from the craggy cliff, the Sheep awoke from the mould;
Upon its green stalk rose the Corn, waving innumerable,
Enfolding the bright infants from the desolating winds.
Eternity appear'd above them as One Man, enfolded
In Luvah's robes of blood, and bearing all his afflictions:
As the sun shines down on the misty earth, such was the Vision.
But purple Night, and crimson Morning, and golden Day, descending
Thro' the clear changing atmosphere, display'd green fields among
The varying clouds, like Paradises stretch'd in the expanse,
With towns, and villages, and temples, tents, sheep-folds and pastures,
Where dwell the children of the Elemental worlds in harmony.
The Mountain callèd out to the Mountain: `Awake, O Brother Mountain!
Let us refuse the Plough and Spade, the heavy Roller and spikèd
Harrow; burn all these corn-fields; throw down all these fences!
Fatten'd on human blood, and drunk with wine of life
is better far
Than all these labours of the harvest and the vintage. See the river,
Red with the blood of Men, swells lustful round my rocky knees:
My clouds are not the clouds of verdant fields and groves of fruit,
But Clouds of Human Souls: my nostrils drink the Lives of Men.
`The Villages lament, they faint, outstretch'd upon
Wailing runs round the Valleys from the mill and from the barn:
But most the polish'd Palaces, dark, silent, bow with dread,
Hiding their books and pictures underneath the dens of Earth.
`The Cities send to one another saying: "My sons are
With wine of cruelty! Let us plait a scourge, O Sister City!
Children are nourish'd for the slaughter. Once the child was fed
With milk; but wherefore now are children fed with blood?"'
At the first sound the golden Sun arises from the deep,
And shakes his awful hair;
The Echo wakes the moon to unbind her silver locks:
The golden Sun bears on my song,
And nine bright Spheres of harmony rise round the fiery king.
The joy of Woman is the death of her most best-belovèd,
Who dies for love of her
In torments of fierce jealousy and pangs of adoration:
The Lovers' night bears on my song,
And the nine Spheres rejoice beneath my powerful control.
They sing unceasing to the notes of my immortal hand.
The solemn, silent Moon
Reverberates the living harmony upon my limbs;
The birds and beasts rejoice and play,
And every one seeks for his mate to prove his inmost joy.
Furious and terrible they sport and rend the nether
The Deep lifts up his rugged head,
And, lost in infinite humming wings, vanishes with a cry.
The fading cry is ever dying:
The living voice is ever living in its inmost joy.
Arise, you little glancing wings and sing your infant
Arise and drink your bliss!
For everything that lives in holy; for the Source of Life
Descends to be a Weeping Babe;
For the Earthworm renews the moisture of the sandy plain.
Now my left hand I stretch to Earth beneath,
And strike the terrible string.
I wake sweet joy in dens of sorrow, and I plant a smile
In forests of affliction,
And wake the bubbling springs of life in regions of dark death.
O, I am weary! Lay thine hand upon me, or I faint.
I faint beneath these beams of thine;
For thou hast touchèd my five Senses, and they answer'd thee.
Now I am nothing, and I sink,
And on the bed of silence sleep, till thou awakest me.
I am made to sow the thistle for wheat, the nettle for a nourishing dainty:
I have planted a false oath in the earth, it has brought forth a Poison Tree:
I have chosen the serpent for a counsellor, and the dog
For a schoolmaster to my children:
I have blotted out from light and living the dove and nightingale,
And I have causèd the earthworm to beg from door to door:
I have taught the thief a secret path into the house of the just:
I have taught pale Artifice to spread his nets upon the morning
My heavens are brass, my earth is iron, my moon a clod of clay,
My sun a pestilence burning at noon, and a vapour of death in night.
What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for
Or Wisdom for a dance in the street? No! it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath -- his house, his wife, his children.
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
And in the wither'd field where the farmer ploughs for bread in vain.
It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun,
And in the vintage, and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn:
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted,
To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer,
To listen to the hungry raven's cry in wintry season,
When the red blood is fill'd with wine and with the marrow of lambs:
It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements;
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter-house moan;
To see a God on every wind and a blessing on every blast;
To hear sounds of Love in the thunderstorm that destroys our enemy's house;
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, and the sickness that cuts off his children,
While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door, and our chil 1000 dren bring fruits and flowers.
Then the groan and the dolour are quite forgotten, and the slave grinding at the mill,
And the captive in chains, and the poor in the prison, and the soldier in
When the shatter'd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead:
It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity --
Thus would I sing and thus rejoice; but it is not so with me.
Still the faint harps and silver voices calm the weary couch;
But from the caves of deepest Night, ascending in clouds of mist,
The Winter spread his wide black wings across from pole to pole;
Grim Frost beneath and terrible Snow, link'd in a marriage chain,
Began a dismal dance. The Winds around on pointed rocks
Settled like bats innumerable, ready to fly abroad.
Ah! how shall Urizen the King submit to this dark mansion?
Ah! how is this? Once on the heights I stretch'd my throne sublime.
The mountains of Urizen, once of silver, where the sons of wisdom dwelt,
And on whose tops the virgins sang, are rocks of Desolation.
My fountains, once the haunt of swans, now breed the
The houses of my harpers are become a haunt of crows,
The gardens of Wisdom are become a field of horrid graves,
And on the bones I drop my tears, and water them in vain.
Once how I walkèd from my Palace in gardens
The sons of wisdom stood around, the harpers follow'd with harps,
Nine virgins, cloth'd in light, compos'd the song to their immortal voices,
And at my banquets of new wine my head was crown'd with joy.
Then in my ivory pavilions I slumber'd in the noon,
And walkèd in the silent night among sweet-smelling flowers,
Till on my silver bed I slept, and sweet dreams round me hover'd;
But now my land is darken'd and my wise men are departed.
My songs are turnèd to cries of lamentation
Heard on my mountains, and deep sighs under my palace roof;
Because the steeds of Urizen, once swifter than the light,
Were kept back from my Lord and from his chariot of mercies.
O! did I keep the horses of the Day in silver pastures!
O! I refus'd the Lord of Day the horses of his Prince!
O! did I close my treasuries with roofs of solid stone,
And darken all my palace walls with envyings and hate!
O fool! to think that I could hide from his all-piercing
The gold and silver and costly stones, his holy workmanship.
O fool! could I forget the light that fillèd my bright spheres
Was a reflection of his face who call'd me from the deep!
I well remember, for I heard the mild and holy voice
Saying: `O Light, spring up and shine,' and I sprang up from the deep.
He gave to me a silver sceptre, and crown'd me with a golden crown,
And said: `Go forth and guide my Son who wanders on the ocean.'
I went not forth: I hid myself in black clouds of
I call'd the stars around my feet in the night of councils dark;
The stars threw down their spears, and fled naked away.
We fell: I seiz'd thee, dark Urthona, in my left hand, falling,
I seiz'd thee, beauteous Luvah; thou art faded like
And like a lily thy wife Vala, wither'd by winds.
When thou didst bear the golden cup at the immortal tables,
Thy children smote their fiery wings, crown'd with the gold of Heaven.
Thy pure feet stept on the steps divine, too pure for other
And thy fair locks shadow'd thine eyes from the divine effulgence.
Then thou didst keep with strong Urthona the living gates of Heaven;
But now thou art bow'd down with him, even to the gates of Hell.
Because thou gavest Urizen the wine of the Almighty
For steeds of Light, that they might run in thy golden chariot of pride,
I gave to thee the steeds. I pour'd the stolen wine,
And, drunken with the immortal draught, fell from my throne sublime.
I will arise, explore these dens, and find that deep pulsation
That shakes my caverns with strong shudders. Perhaps this is the Night
Of Prophecy, and Luvah hath burst his way from Enitharmon.
When Thought is clos'd in Caves, then Love shall show its root in deepest Hell.
Los rear'd his mighty stature: on Earth stood his feet; above
The Moon his furious forehead, cricled with black bursting thunders;
His naked limbs glitt'ring upon the dark blue sky, his knees
Bathèd in bloody clouds; his loins in fires of War, where spears
And swords rage, where the Eagles cry and Vultures laugh, saying:
`Now comes the night of carnage, now the flesh of
Kings and Princes
Pamper'd in palaces for our food, the blood of Captains nurtur'd
With lust and murder for our drink. The drunken Raven shall wander
All night among the slain, and mock the wounded that groan in the field.'
Loud sounds the war-song round red Orc in his fury,
And round the nameless Shadowy Female in her howling terror,
When all the Elemental Gods join'd in the wondrous song: --
`Sound the war-trumpet terrific, souls clad in attractive steel!
Sound the shrill fife, Serpents of War! I hear the northern drum
Awake! I hear the flappings of the folding banners!
The Dragons of the North put on their armour;
Upon the eastern sea direct they take their course;
The glitt'ring of their horses' trappings stains the vault of night.
`Stop we the rising of the glorious King! spur, spur
Of death! O northern drum, awake! O hand of iron, sound
The northern drum! Now give the charge! bravely obscur'd
With darts of wintry hail! Again the black bow draw;
Again the elemental strings to your right breasts draw;
eAnd let the thund'ring drum speed on the arrows black!
And she went forth and saw the forms of Life and of Delight
Walking on mountains, or flying in the open expanse of heaven.
She heard sweet voices in the winds, and in the voices of birds
That rose from waters; for the waters were as the voice of Luvah,
Not seen to her like waters, or like this dark world of death;
Tho' all those fair perfections, which men known only by name.
In beautiful substantial forms appear'd, and servèd her
As food or drink or ornament, or in delightful works
To build her bowers. For the elements brought forth abundantly
The living Soul in glorious forms; and every one came forth,
Walking before her Shadowy face and bowing at her feet.
But, in vain, delights were pourèd forth on the howling Melancholy!
For her delight the Horse his proud neck bow'd, and his white mane;
And the strong Lion deign'd in his mouth to wear the golden bit;
While the far-beaming Peacock waited on the fragr 1000 ant wind
To bring her fruits of sweet delight from trees of richest wonders;
And the strong-pinion'd Eagle bore the fire of Heaven in the night-season.
And Urizen read in his Book of Brass in sounding tones: --
`Listen, O Daughters, to my voice! listen to the words of wisdom!
Compel the Poor to live upon a crust of bread by soft mild arts:
So shall you govern over all. Let Moral Duty tune your tongue,
But be your hearts harder than the nether millstone;
To bring the Shadow of Enitharmon beneath our wondrous Tree,
That Los may evaporate like smoke, and be no more.
Draw down Enitharmon to the Spectre of Urthona,
And let him have dominion over Los, the terrible Shade.
Smile when they frown, frown when they smile; and when a man looks pale
With labour and abstinence, say he looks healthy and happy;
And when his children sicken, let them die: there are enough
Born, even too many, and our earth will soon be overrun
Without these arts. If you would make the Poor live with temper,
With pomp give every crust of bread you give; with gracious cunning
Magnify small gifts; reduce the man to want a gift, and then give with pomp.
Say he smiles, if you hear him sigh; if pale, say he is ruddy
Preach temperance: say he is overgorg'd, and drowns his wit
In strong drink, tho' you know that bread and water are all
He can afford. Flatter his wife, pity his children, till we can
Reduce all to our will, as spaniels are taught with art.'
Her Shadow went forth and return'd. Now she was pale as snow,
When the mountains and hills are cover'd over, and the paths of men shut up;
But, when her Spirit return'd, as ruddy as a morning when
The ripe fruit blushes into joy in Heaven's eternal halls.
He saw Orc, a Serpent form, augmenting times on times
In the fierce battle; and he saw the Lamb of God, and the world of Los
Surrounded by his dark machines; for Orc augmented swift
In fury, a Serpent wondrous, among the constellations of Urizen.
A crest of fire rose on his forehead, red as the carbuncle;
Beneath, down to his eyelids, scales of pearl; then gold and silver,
Immingled with the ruby, overspread his visage; down
His furious neck, writhing contortive in dire budding pains,
The scaly armour shot out. Stubborn, down his back and bosom,
The emerald, onyx, sapphire, jasper, beryl, amethyst,
Strove in terrific emulation which should gain a place
Upon the mighty fiend -- the fruit of the Mysterious. Tree
Kneaded in Uvith's kneading-trough.
Terrifièd at Non-Existence--
For such they deem'd the death of the body -- Los his vegetable hands
Outstretch'd; his right hand, branching out in fibrous strength,
Seiz'd the Sun; his left hand, like dark roots, cover'd the Moon,
And tore them down, cracking the heavens across from immense to immense.
Then fell the fires of Eternity, with loud and shrill
Sound of loud Trumpet, thundering along from heaven to heaven,
A mighty sound articulate: `Awake! ye Dead, and come
To Judgment from the four winds! awake, and come away!'
Folding like scrolls of the enormous volume of Heaven and Earth,
With thunderous noise and dreadful shakings, rocking to and fro,
The Heavens are shaken, and the Ear 1000 th removèd from its place;
The foundations of the eternal hills discover'd.
The thrones of Kings are shaken, they have lost their robes and crowns;
The Poor smite their oppressors, they awake up to the harvest;
The naked warriors rush together down to the seashore,
Trembling before the multitudes of slaves now set at liberty:
They are become like wintry flocks, like forests stripp'd of leaves.
The Oppressèd pursue like the wind; there is no room for escape. . . .
The Books of Urizen unroll with dreadful noise! The folding Serpent
Of Orc began to consume in fierce raving fire; his fierce flames
Issu'd on all sides, gathering strength in animating volumes,
Roaring abroad on all the winds, raging intense, reddening
Into resistless pillars of fire, rolling round and round, gathering
Strength from the earths consum'd, and heavens, and all hidden abysses,
Where'er the Eagle has explor'd, or Lion or Tiger trod,
Or where the comets of the night, or stars of day
Have shot their arrows or long-beamèd spears in wrath and fury.
And all the while the Trumpet sounds.
From the clotted gore, and from the hollow den
Start forth the trembling millions into flames of mental fire,
Bathing their limbs in the bright visions of Eternity.
Then, like the doves from pillars of smoke, the trembling
Of women and children throughout every nation under heaven
Cling round the men in bands of twenties and of fifties, pale
As snow that falls round a leafless tree upon the green.
Their oppressors are fall'n; they have stricken them; they awake to life.
Yet, pale, the Just man stands erect, and looking up to Heav'n.
Trembling and strucken by the universal stroke, the trees unroot;
The rocks groan horrible and run about; the mountains and
Their rivers cry with a dismal cry; the cattle gather together,
Lowing they kneel before the heavens; the wild beasts of the forests
Tremble. The Lion, shuddering, asks the Leopard: `Feelest thou
The dread I feel, unknown before? My voice refuses to roar,
And in weak moans I speak to thee. This night,
Before the morning's dawn, the Eagle call'd the Vulture,
The Raven call'd the Hawk. I heard them from my forests,
Saying: "Let us go up far, for soon I smell upon the wind
A terror coming from the South." The Eagle and Hawk fled away
At dawn, and ere the sun arose, the Raven and Vulture follow'd.
Let us flee also to the North.' They fled. The Sons of Men
Saw them depart in dismal droves. The trumpets sounded loud,
And all the Sons of Eternity descended into Beulah.
O weakness and O weariness! O war within my members!
My sons, exilèd from my breast, pass to and fro before me.
My birds are silent in my hills; flocks die beneath my branches;
My tents are fallen; my trumpets and the sweet sounds of my harp
Is silent on my clouded hills that belch forth storms and fires;
My milk of cows, and honey of bees, and fruit of golden harvest
Are gather'd in the scorching heat and in the driving rain.
My robe is turnèd to confusion, and my bright gold to stone.
Where once I sat, I weary walk in misery and pain;
For from within my wither'd breast, grown narrow with my woes,
The corn is turn'd to thistles, and the apples into poison;
The birds of song to murderous crows, my joys to bitter groans;
The voices of children in my tents to cries of helpless infants.
And all exilèd from the face of light and shine of morning,
In this dark World, a narrow house! I wander up and down:
I hear Mystery howling in these flames of Consummation.
When shall the Man 1000 of future times become as in days of old?
O weary life! why sit I here and give up all my powers
To indolence, to the night of death, when indolence and mourning
Sit hovering over my dark threshold? Tho' I arise, look out
And scorn the war within my members, yet my heart is weak
And my head faint. -- Yet will I look again into the morning!
Whence is this sound of rage of men drinking each other's blood,
Drunk with the smoking gore, and red, but not with nourishing wine.
They see him whom they have pierc'd; they wail because of him;
They magnify themselves no more against Jerusalem, nor
Against her little ones. The Innocent, accusèd before the judges,
Shines with immortal glory: trembling, the Judge springs from his throne,
Hiding his face in the dust beneath the prisoner's feet, and saying:
`Brother of Jesus, what have I done? Entreat thy Lord for me!
Perhaps I may be forgiven.'
Then seiz'd the sons of Urizen the plough: they polish'd it
From rust of ages: all its ornament of gold and silver and ivory
Re-shone across the field immense, where all the nations
Darken'd like mould in the divided fallows, where the weed
Triumphs in its own destruction. They took down the harness
From the blue walls of Heaven, starry, jingling, ornamented
With beautiful art, the study of Angels, the workmanship of Demons,
When Heaven and Hell in emulation strove in sports of glory.
The noise of rural work resounded thro' the heavens of heavens:
The horses neigh from the battle, the wild bulls from the sultry waste,
The tigers from the forests, and the lions from the sandy deserts.
They sing; they seize the instruments of harmony; they throw away
The spear, the bow, the gun, the mortar; they level the fortifications;
They beat the iron engines of destruction into wedges;
They give them to Urthona's sons. Ringing, the hammers sound
In dens of death, to forge the spade, the mattock, and the axe,
The heavy roller to break the clods, to pass over the nations.
`Come forth, O Vala! from the grass and from the silent dew;
Rise from the dews of death, for the Eternal Man is risen!'
She rises among flowers and looks toward the eastern
She walks, yea runs -- her feet are wing'd -- on the tops of the bending grass;
Her garments rejoice in the vocal wind, and her hair glistens with dew.
She answer'd thus: `Whose voice is this in the voice
of the nourishing air,
In the spirit of the morning, awaking the Soul from its grassy bed?
Where dost thou dwell? for it is thee I seek, and but for thee
I must have slept eternally, nor have felt the dew of thy morning.
Look how the opening dawn advances with vocal harmony!
Look how the beams foreshow the rising of some glorious power!
The Sun is thine; he goeth forth in his majestic brightness.
O thou creating voice that callest! and who shall answer thee?
`Where dost thou flee, O Fair One! where dost thou
seek thy happy place?
To yonder brightness? There I haste, for sure I came from thence;
Or I must have slept eternally, nor have felt the dew of morning.'
`Eternally thou must have slept, nor have felt the
But for yon nourishing Sun: 'tis that by which thou art arisen.
The birds adore the Sun; the beasts rise up and play in his beams,
And every flowe 1000 r and every leaf rejoices in his light.
Then, O thou Fair One, sit thee down, for thou art as the grass,
Thou risest in the dew of morning, and at night art folded up.'
`Alas! am I but as a flower? Then will I sit me down;
Then will I weep; then I'll complain, and sigh for immortality,
And chide my maker, thee O Sun, that raisedst me to fall.'
So saying she sat down and wept beneath the apple-trees.
`O! be thou blotted out, thou Sun, that raisedst me
That gavest me a heart to crave, and raisedst me, thy phantom,
To feel thy heart, and see thy light, and wander here alone,
Hopeless, if I am like the grass, and so shall pass away.'
`Rise, sluggish Soul! Why sitt'st thou here? why dost thou sit and weep?
Yon Sun shall wax old and decay, but thou shalt ever flourish.
The fruit shall ripen and fall down, and the flowers consume away,
But thou shalt still survive. Arise! O dry thy dewy tears!'
`Ha! shall I still survive? Whence came that sweet
and comforting voice,
And whence that voice of sorrow? O Sun! thou art nothing now to me:
Go on thy course rejoicing, and let us both rejoice together!
I walk among His flocks and hear the bleating of His lambs.
O! that I could behold His face and follow His pure feet!
I walk by the footsteps of His flocks. Come hither, tender flocks!
Can you converse with a pure Soul that seeketh for her Maker?
You answer not: then am I set your mistress in this garden.
I'll watch you and attend your footsteps. You are not like the birds
That sing and fly in the bright air; but you do lick my feet,
And let me touch your wooly backs: follow me as I sing;
For in my bosom a new Song arises to my Lord:
`Rise up, O Sun! most glorious minister and light
Flow on, ye gentle airs, and bear the voice of my rejoicing!
Wave freshly, clear waters, flowing around the tender grass;
And thou, sweet-smelling ground, put forth thy life in fruit and flowers!
Follow me, O my flocks, and hear me sing my rapturous song!
I will cause my voice to be heard on the clouds that glitter in the sun.
I will call, and who shall answer me? I shall sing; who shall reply?
For, from my pleasant hills, behold the living, living springs,
Running among my green pastures, delighting among my trees!
I am not here alone: my flocks, you are my brethren;
And you birds, that sing and adorn the sky, you are my sisters.
I sing, and you reply to my song; I rejoice, and you are glad.
Follow me, O my flocks! we will now descend into the valley.
O, how delicious are the grapes, flourishing in the sun!
How clear the spring of the rock, running among the golden sand!
How cool the breezes of the valley! And the arms of the branching trees
Cover us from the sun: come and let us sit in the shade.
My Luvah here hath plac'd me in a sweet and pleasant land,
And given me fruits and pleasant waters, and warm hills and cool valleys.
Here will I build myself a house, and here I'll call on His name;
Here I'll return, when I am weary, and take my pleasant rest.'
So saying, she arose and walkèd round her beautiful house;
And then from her white door she look'd to see her bleating lambs,
But her flocks were gone up from beneath the trees into the hills.
`I see the hand that leadeth me doth also lead my
She went up to her flocks, and turnèd oft to see her shining house.
She stopp'd to drink of the clear spring, and eat the grapes and apples;
She bore the fruits in her lap; she gather'd flowers for her bosom.
She callèd to her 318 flocks, saying: `Follow me, O my flocks!'
They follow'd her to the silent valley beneath the
And on the river's margin she ungirded her golden girdle;
She stood in the river and view'd herself within the wat'ry glass,
And her bright hair was wet with the waters. She rose up from the river,
And as she rose her eyes were open'd to the world of waters;
She saw Tharmas sitting upon the rocks beside the wavy sea.