William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

A Song of Liberty

(Engraved circa 1792)

1. THE ETERNAL FEMALE groan’d! It was heard over all the Earth.

2. Albion’s coast is sick, silent. The American meadows faint!

3. Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers, and mutter across the ocean. France, rend down thy dungeon!

4. Golden Spain, burst the barriers of old Rome!

5. Cast thy keys, O Rome! into the deep, down falling, even to eternity down falling,

6. And weep.

7. In her trembling hands she took the new-born terror, howling.

8. On those infinite mountains of light, now barr’d out by the Atlantic sea, the new-born fire stood before the starry king!

9. Flagg’d with grey-brow’d snows and thunderous visages, the jealous wings wav’d over the deep.

10. The speary hand burnèd aloft, unbuckled was the shield; forth went the hand of Jealousy among the flaming hair, and hurl’d the new-born wonder thro’ the starry night.

11. The fire, the fire, is falling!

12. Look up! look up! O citizen of London, enlarge thy countenance! O Jew, leave counting gold! return to thy oil and wine. O African! black African! Go, wingèd thought, widen his forehead!

13. The fiery limbs, the flaming hair, shot like the sinking sun into the western sea.

14. Wak’d from his eternal sleep, the hoary element, roaring, fled away.

15. Down rush’d, beating his wings in vain, the jealous King; his grey-brow’d counsellors, thunderous warriors, curl’d veterans, among helms, and shields, and chariots, horses, elephants, banners, castles, slings, and rocks,

16. Falling, rushing, ruining! buried in the ruins, on Urthona’s dens;

17. All night beneath the ruins; then, their sullen flames faded, emerge round the gloomy King.

18. With thunder and fire, leading his starry hosts thro’ the waste wilderness, he promulgates his ten commands, glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay,

19. Where the son of fire in his eastern cloud, while the morning plumes her golden breast,

20. Spurning the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony law to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying: Empire is no more! and now the lion and wolf shall cease.

Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn no longer, in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy! Nor his accepted brethren—whom, tyrant, he calls free—lay the bound or build the roof! Nor pale Religion’s lechery call that Virginity that wishes but acts not!

For everything that lives is Holy!