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

The Song of Los


(Engraved 1795)

I will sing you a song of Los, the Eternal Prophet:

He sung it to four harps, at the tables of Eternity,

In heart-formèd Africa.

Urizen faded! Ariston shudder’d!

And thus the Song began:

Adam stood in the garden of Eden,

And Noah on the mountains of Ararat;

They saw Urizen give his Laws to the Nations

By the hands of the children of Los.

Adam shudder’d! Noah faded! Black grew the sunny African

When Rintrah gave Abstract Philosophy to Brahma in the East,

(Night spoke to the Cloud:

‘Lo! these Human-form’d spirits, in smiling hypocrisy, war

Against one another; so let them war on, slaves to the eternal elements.’)

Noah shrunk beneath the waters;

Abram fled in fires from Chaldaea;

Moses beheld upon Mount Sinai forms of dark delusion.

To Trismegistus, Palamabron gave an abstract Law;

To Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato.

Times rollèd on o’er all the sons of Har: time after time

Orc on Mount Atlas howl’d, chain’d down with the Chain of Jealousy;

Then Oothoon hover’d over Judah and Jerusalem,

And Jesus heard her voice—a Man of Sorrows!—He receiv’d

A Gospel from wretched Theotormon.

The human race began to wither; for the healthy built

Secluded places, fearing the joys of Love,

And the diseasèd only propagated.

So Antamon call’d up Leutha from her valleys of delight,

And to Mahomet a loose Bible gave;

But in the North, to Odin, Sotha gave a Code of War,

Because of Diralada, thinking to reclaim his joy.

These were the Churches, Hospitals, Castles, Palaces,

Like nets and gins and traps, to catch the joys of Eternity,

And all the rest a desert;

Till, like a dream, Eternity was obliterated and erasèd,

Since that dread day when Har and Heva fled,

Because their brethren and sisters liv’d in War and Lust;

And, as they fled, they shrunk

Into two narrow doleful forms,

Creeping in reptile flesh upon

The bosom of the ground;

And all the vast of Nature shrunk

Before their shrunken eyes.

Thus the terrible race of Los and Enitharmon gave

Laws and Religions to the sons of Har, binding them more

And more to Earth, closing and restraining;

Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete:

Urizen wept, and gave it into the hands of Newton and Locke.

Clouds roll heavy upon the Alps round Rousseau and Voltaire,

And on the mountains of Lebanon round the deceasèd Gods

Of Asia, and on the deserts of Africa round the Fallen Angels.

The Guardian Prince of Albion burns in his nightly tent.