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

Selections from ‘The Four Zoas’

[The Lament of Albion]

(Four Zoas, Night IX, ll. 98–121.)

O WEAKNESS and O weariness! O war within my members!

My sons, exilèd from my breast, pass to and fro before me.

My birds are silent in my hills; flocks die beneath my branches;

My tents are fallen; my trumpets and the sweet sounds of my harp

Is silent on my clouded hills that belch forth storms and fires;

My milk of cows, and honey of bees, and fruit of golden harvest

Are gather’d in the scorching heat and in the driving rain.

My robe is turnèd to confusion, and my bright gold to stone.

Where once I sat, I weary walk in misery and pain;

For from within my wither’d breast, grown narrow with my woes,

The corn is turn’d to thistles, and the apples into poison;

The birds of song to murderous crows, my joys to bitter groans;

The voices of children in my tents to cries of helpless infants.

And all exilèd from the face of light and shine of morning,

In this dark World, a narrow house! I wander up and down:

I hear Mystery howling in these flames of Consummation.

When shall the Man of future times become as in days of old?

O weary life! why sit I here and give up all my powers

To indolence, to the night of death, when indolence and mourning

Sit hovering over my dark threshold? Tho’ I arise, look out

And scorn the war within my members, yet my heart is weak

And my head faint.—Yet will I look again into the morning!

Whence is this sound of rage of men drinking each other’s blood,

Drunk with the smoking gore, and red, but not with nourishing wine.