Home  »  The Poetical Works by William Blake  »  [The Song of the Shadowy Female]

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

Selections from ‘Milton’

[The Song of the Shadowy Female]

(Milton, f. 17*, II. 6–25.)

MY Garments shall be woven of sighs and heart-broken lamentations:

The misery of unhappy Families shall be drawn out into its border,

Wrought with the needle, with dire sufferings, poverty, pain, and woe,

Along the rocky Island and thence throughout the whole Earth.

There shall be the sick Father and his starving Family; there

The Prisoner in the stone Dungeon, and the Slave at the Mill.

I will have writings written all over it in Human words,

That every Infant that is born upon the Earth shall read

And get by rote, as a hard task of a life of sixty years.

I will have Kings inwoven upon it, and Counsellors and Mighty Men:

The Famine shall clasp it together with buckles and clasps,

And the Pestilence shall be its fringe, and the War its girdle;

To divide into Rahab and Tirzah, that Milton may come to our tents.

For I will put on the Human Form, and take the Image of God,

Even Pity and Humanity; but my clothing shall be Cruelty.

And I will put on Holiness as a breastplate and as a helmet,

And all my ornaments shall be of the gold of broken hearts,

And the precious stones of anxiety and care, and desperation and death,

And repentance for sin, and sorrow, and punishment and fear;

To defend me from thy terrors, O Orc! my only belovèd!