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

The Song of Los


(Engraved 1795)

THE KINGS of Asia heard

The howl rise up from Europe,

And each ran out from his Web,

From his ancient woven Den;

For the darkness of Asia was startled

At the thick-flaming, thought-creating fires of Orc.

And the Kings of Asia stood

And crièd in bitterness of soul:—

‘Shall not the King call for Famine from the heath,

Nor the Priest for Pestilence from the fen,

To restrain, to dismay, to thin

The inhabitants of mountain and plain,

In the day of full-feeding prosperity

And the night of delicious songs?

Shall not the Counsellor throw his curb

Of Poverty on the laborious,

To fix the price of labour,

To invent allegoric riches?

And the privy admonishers of men

Call for Fires in the City,

For heaps of smoking ruins,

In the night of prosperity and wantonness,

To turn man from his path,

To restrain the child from the womb,

To cut off the bread from the city;

That the remnant may learn to obey,

That the pride of the heart may fail,

That the lust of the eyes may be quench’d,

That the delicate ear in its infancy

May be dull’d, and the nostrils clos’d up,

To teach Mortal Worms the path

That leads from the gates of the Grave?’

Urizen heard them cry,

And his shudd’ring, waving wings

Went enormous above the red flames,

Drawing clouds of despair thro’ the Heavens

Of Europe as he went.

And his Books of brass, iron, and gold

Melted over the land as he flew,

Heavy-waving, howling, weeping.

And he stood over Judaea,

And stay’d in his ancient place,

And stretch’d his clouds over Jerusalem;

For Adam, a mouldering skeleton,

Lay bleach’d on the garden of Eden;

And Noah, as white as snow,

On the mountains of Ararat.

Then the thunders of Urizen bellow’d aloud

From his woven darkness above.

Orc, raging in European darkness,

Arose like a pillar of fire above the Alps,

Like a serpent of fiery flame!

The sullen Earth


Forth from the dead dust, rattling bones to bones

Join. Shaking, convuls’d, the shiv’ring Clay breathes,

And all Flesh naked stands: Fathers and Friends,

Mothers and Infants, Kings and Warriors.

The Grave shrieks with delight, and shakes

Her hollow womb, and clasps the solid stem:

Her bosom swells with wild desire;

And milk and blood and glandous wine

In rivers rush, and shout and dance,

On mountain, dale, and plain.

Urizen Wept.