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

The Book of Ahania

(Engraved 1795)

1. FUZON, on a chariot iron-wing’d,

On spikèd flames rose; his hot visage

Flam’d furious; sparkles his hair and beard

Shot down his wide bosom and shoulders.

On clouds of smoke rages his chariot,

And his right hand burns red in its cloud,

Moulding into a vast Globe his wrath,

As the thunder-stone is moulded,

Son of Urizen’s silent burnings.

2. ‘Shall we worship this Demon of smoke,’

Said Fuzon, ‘this abstract Nonentity,

This cloudy God seated on waters,

Now seen, now obscur’d, King of Sorrow?’

3. So he spoke in a fiery flame,

On Urizen frowning indignant,

The Globe of wrath shaking on high.

Roaring with fury, he threw

The howling Globe; burning it flew,

Length’ning into a hungry beam. Swiftly

4. Oppos’d to the exulting flam’d beam,

The broad Disk of Urizen upheav’d

Across the Void many a mile.

5. It was forg’d in mills where the winter

Beats incessant: ten winters the disk,

Unremitting, endur’d the cold hammer.

6. But the strong arm that sent it remember’d

The sounding beam: laughing, it tore through

That beaten mass, keeping its direction,

The cold loins of Urizen dividing.

7. Dire shriek’d his invisible Lust!

Deep groan’d Urizen; stretching his awful hand,

Ahania (so name his parted Soul)

He seiz’d on his mountains of Jealousy.

He groan’d, anguish’d, and callèd her Sin,

Kissing her and weeping over her;

Then hid her in darkness, in silence,

Jealous, tho’ she was invisible.

8. She fell down, a faint Shadow, wand’ring

In Chaos, and circling dark Urizen,

As the moon, anguish’d, circles the earth,

Hopeless! abhorr’d! a death-shadow,

Unseen, unbodièd, unknown,

The mother of Pestilence!

9. But the fiery beam of Fuzon

Was a pillar of fire to Egypt,

Five hundred years wand’ring on earth,

Till Los seiz’d it, and beat in a mass

With the body of the sun.

1. But the forehead of Urizen gathering,

And his eyes pale with anguish, his lips

Blue and changing, in tears and bitter

Contrition he prepar’d his Bow,

2. Form’d of Ribs, that in his dark solitude,

When obscur’d in his forests, fell monsters

Arose. For his dire Contemplations

Rush’d down like floods from his mountains,

In torrents of mud settling thick,

With eggs of unnatural production:

Forthwith hatching, some howl’d on his hills,

Some in vales, some aloft flew in air.

3. Of these, an enormous dread Serpent,

Scalèd and poisonous, hornèd,

Approach’d Urizen, even to his knees,

As he sat on his dark-rooted Oak.

4. With his horns he push’d furious:

Great the conflict and great the jealousy

In cold poisons; but Urizen smote him!

5. First he poison’d the rocks with his blood,

Then polish’d his ribs, and his sinews

Drièd, laid them apart till winter;

Then a Bow black prepar’d: on this Bow

A poisonèd Rock plac’d in silence.

He utter’d these words to the Bow:—

6. ‘O Bow of the clouds of Secrecy!

O nerve of that lust-form’d monster!

Send this Rock swift, invisible, thro’

The black clouds on the bosom of Fuzon.’

7. So saying, in torment of his wounds

He bent the enormous ribs slowly—

A circle of darkness!—then fixèd

The sinew in its rest; then the Rock,

Poisonous source, plac’d with art, lifting difficult

Its weighty bulk. Silent the Rock lay,

8. While Fuzon, his tigers unloosing,

Thought Urizen slain by his wrath.

‘I am God!’ said he, ‘eldest of things.’

9. Sudden sings the Rock; swift and invisible

On Fuzon flew, enter’d his bosom;

His beautiful visage, his tresses,

That gave light to the mornings of heaven,

Were smitten with darkness, deform’d,

And outstretch’d on the edge of the forest.

10. But the Rock fell upon the Earth,

Mount Sinai, in Arabia.

1. The Globe shook, and Urizen, seated

On black clouds, his sore wound anointed;

The ointment flow’d down on the Void

Mix’d with blood—here the snake gets her poison!

2. With difficulty and great pain Urizen

Lifted on high the dead corse:

On his shoulders he bore it to where

A Tree hung over the Immensity.

3. For when Urizen shrunk away

From Eternals, he sat on a Rock,

Barren—a Rock which himself,

From redounding fancies, had petrifièd.

Many tears fell on the Rock,

Many sparks of vegetation.

Soon shot the painèd root

Of Mystery under his heel:

It grew a thick tree: he wrote

In silence his Book of Iron;

Till the horrid plant bending its boughs,

Grew to roots when it felt the earth,

And again sprung to many a tree.

4. Amaz’d started Urizen when

He beheld himself compassèd round

And high-roofèd over with trees.

He arose, but the stems stood so thick,

He with difficulty and great pain

Brought his Books—all but the Book

Of Iron—from the dismal shade.

5. The Tree still grows over the Void,

Enrooting itself all around,

An endless labyrinth of woe!

6. The corse of his first begotten

On the accursèd Tree of Mystery,

On the topmost stem of this Tree

Urizen nail’d Fuzon’s corse.

1. Forth flew the arrows of Pestilence

Round the pale living Corse on the Tree.

2. For in Urizen’s slumbers of abstraction,

In the infinite ages of Eternity,

When his Nerves of Joy melted and flow’d,

A white Lake on the dark blue air,

In perturb’d pain and dismal torment,

Now stretching out, now swift conglobing,

3. Effluvia vapour’d above

In noxious clouds; these hover’d thick

Over the disorganiz’d Immortal,

Till petrific pain scurf’d o’er the Lakes,

As the bones of Man, solid and dark.

4. The clouds of Disease hover’d wide

Around the Immortal in torment,

Perching around the hurtling bones—

Disease on disease, shape on shape,

Wingèd, screaming in blood and torment!

5. The Eternal Prophet beat on his Anvils,

Enrag’d in the desolate darkness;

He forg’d Nets of iron around,

And Los threw them around the bones.

6. The Shapes, screaming, flutter’d vain:

Some combin’d into muscles and glands,

Some organs for craving and lust;

Most remain’d on the tormented Void-

Urizen’s army of horrors!

7. Round the pale living Corse on the Tree,

Forty years, flew the arrows of Pestilence.

8. Wailing and terror and woe

Ran thro’ all his dismal world;

Forty years all his sons and daughters

Felt their skulls harden; then Asia

Arose in the pendulous deep.

9. They reptilize upon the Earth.

10. Fuzon groan’d on the Tree.

1. The lamenting voice of Ahania,

Weeping upon the Void!

And round the Tree of Fuzon,

Distant in solitary night,

Her voice was heard, but no form

Had she; but her tears from clouds

Eternal fell round the Tree.

2. And the voice cried: ‘Ah, Urizen! Love!

Flower of morning! I weep on the verge

Of Nonentity—how wide the Abyss

Between Ahania and thee!

3. ‘I lie on the verge of the deep;

I see thy dark clouds ascends;

I see thy black forests and floods,

A horrible waste to my eyes!

4. ‘Weeping I walk over rocks,

Over dens, and thro’ valleys of death.

Why didst thou despise Ahania,

To cast me from thy bright presence

Into the World of Loneness?

5. ‘I cannot touch his hand,

Nor weep on his knees, nor hear

His voice and bow, nor see his eyes

And joy; nor hear his footsteps, and

My heart leap at the lovely sound!

I cannot kiss the place

Whereon his bright feet have trod;

But I wander on the rocks

With hard necessity.

6. ‘Where is my golden palace?

Where my ivory bed?

Where the joy of my morning hour?

Where the Sons of Eternity singing,

7. ‘To awake bright Urizen, my King,

To arise to the mountain sport,

To the bliss of eternal valleys;

8. ‘To awake my King in the morn,

To embrace Ahania’s joy

On the breath of his open bosom,

From my soft cloud of dew to fall

In showers of life on his harvests?

9. ‘When he gave my happy soul

To the Sons of Eternal Joy;

When he took the Daughters of Life

Into my chambers of love;

10. ‘When I found Babes of bliss on my beds,

And bosoms of milk in my chambers,

Fill’d with eternal seed—

O! eternal births sung round Ahania,

In interchange sweet of their joys!

11. ‘Swell’d with ripeness and fat with fatness,

Bursting on winds, my odours,

My ripe figs and rich pomegranates,

In infant joy at thy feet,

O Urizen! sported and sang.

12. ‘Then thou with thy lap full of seed,

With thy hand full of generous fire,

Walkèd forth from the clouds of morning;

On the virgins of springing joy,

On the Human soul to cast

The seed of eternal Science.

13. ‘The sweat pourèd down thy temples,

To Ahania return’d in evening;

The moisture awoke to birth

My mother’s joys, sleeping in bliss.

14. ‘But now alone! over rocks, mountains,

Cast out from thy lovely bosom!

Cruel Jealousy, selfish Fear,

Self-destroying! how can delight

Renew in these chains of darkness,

Where bones of beasts are strown

On the bleak and snowy mountains,

Where bones from the birth are burièd

Before they see the light?’