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

Selections from ‘The Four Zoas’

[Song of the Sinless Soul]

(Four Zoas, Night IX, II. 386–452.)

‘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 clearness;

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 morning dew,

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 flower 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 to trouble,

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 woolly 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 of day!

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.’