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

Selections from ‘The Four Zoas’

[The Last Judgement]

(Four Zoas, Night IX, ll. 5–23, 33–66.)

TERRIFIÈD at Non-Existence—

For such they deem’d the death of the body—Los his vegetable hands

Outstretch’d; his right hand, branching out in fibrous strength,

Seiz’d the Sun; his left hand, like dark roots, cover’d the Moon,

And tore them down, cracking the heavens across from immense to immense.

Then fell the fires of Eternity, with loud and shrill

Sound of loud Trumpet, thundering along from heaven to heaven,

A mighty sound articulate: ‘Awake! ye Dead, and come

To Judgement from the four winds! awake, and come away!’

Folding like scrolls of the enormous volume of Heaven and Earth,

With thunderous noise and dreadful shakings, rocking to and fro,

The Heavens are shaken, and the Earth removèd from its place;

The foundations of the eternal hills discover’d.

The thrones of Kings are shaken, they have lost their robes and crowns;

The Poor smite their oppressors, they awake up to the harvest;

The naked warriors rush together down to the seashore,

Trembling before the multitudes of slaves now set at liberty:

They are become like wintry flocks, like forests stripp’d of leaves.

The Oppressèd pursue like the wind; there is no room for escape.…

The Books of Urizen unroll with dreadful noise! The folding Serpent

Of Orc began to consume in fierce raving fire; his fierce flames

Issu’d on all sides, gathering strength in animating volumes,

Roaring abroad on all the winds, raging intense, reddening

Into resistless pillars of fire, rolling round and round, gathering

Strength from the earths consum’d, and heavens, and all hidden abysses,

Where’er the Eagle has explor’d, or Lion or Tiger trod,

Or where the comets of the night, or stars of day

Have shot their arrows or long-beamèd spears in wrath and fury.

And all the while the Trumpet sounds.

From the clotted gore, and from the hollow den

Start forth the trembling millions into flames of mental fire,

Bathing their limbs in the bright visions of Eternity.

Then, like the doves from pillars of smoke, the trembling families

Of women and children throughout every nation under heaven

Cling round the men in bands of twenties and of fifties, pale

As snow that falls round a leafless tree upon the green.

Their oppressors are fall’n; they have stricken them; they awake to life.

Yet, pale, the Just man stands erect, and looking up to Heav’n.

Trembling and strucken by the universal stroke, the trees unroot;

The rocks groan horrible and run about; the mountains and

Their rivers cry with a dismal cry; the cattle gather together,

Lowing they kneel before the heavens; the wild beasts of the forests

Tremble. The Lion, shuddering, asks the Leopard: ‘Feelest thou

The dread I feel, unknown before? My voice refuses to roar,

And in weak moans I speak to thee. This night,

Before the morning’s dawn, the Eagle call’d the Vulture,

The Raven call’d the Hawk. I heard them from my forests,

Saying: “Let us go up far, for soon I smell upon the wind

A terror coming from the South.” The Eagle and Hawk fled away

At dawn, and ere the sun arose, the Raven and Vulture follow’d.

Let us flee also to the North.’ They fled. The Sons of Men

Saw them depart in dismal droves. The trumpets sounded loud,

And all the Sons of Eternity descended into Beulah.