Night by William Blake

The sun descending in the west;
  The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest,
  And I must seek for mine.
    The moon, like a flower
    In heaven’s high bower,
    With silent delight
    Sits and smiles on the night.

Farewell, green fields and happy groves,
  Where flocks have took delight,
Where lambs have nibbled, silent moves
  The feet of angels bright;
    Unseen, they pour blessing,
    And joy without ceasing,
    On each bud and blossom,
    And each sleeping bosom.

They look in every thoughtless nest
  Where birds are covered warm;
They visit caves of every beast,
  To keep them all from harm:
    If they see any weeping
    That should have been sleeping,
    They pour sleep on their head,
    And sit down by their bed.

When wolves and tigers howl for prey,
  They pitying stand and weep;
Seeking to drive their thirst away,
  And keep them from the sheep.
    But, if they rush dreadful,
    The angels, most heedful,
    Receive each mild spirit,
    New worlds to inherit.

And there the lion’s ruddy eyes
  Shall flow with tears of gold:
And pitying the tender cries,
  And walking round the fold:
    Saying: ‘Wrath by His meekness,
    And, by His health, sickness,
    Is driven away
    From our immortal day.

‘And now beside thee, bleating lamb,
  I can lie down and sleep,
Or think on Him who bore thy name,
  Graze after thee, and weep.
    For, washed in life’s river,
    My bright mane for ever
    Shall shine like the gold,
    As I guard o’er the fold.’

Europe: a Prophecy by William Blake

A Prophecy

THE DEEP of winter came,
What time the Secret Child
Descended through the orient gates of the Eternal day:
War ceas’d, and all the troops like shadows fled to their abodes.

Then Enitharmon saw her sons and daughters rise around;
Like pearly clouds they meet together in the crystal house;
And Los, possessor of the Moon, joy’d in the peaceful night,
Thus speaking, while his num’rous sons shook their bright fiery wings:—

‘Again the night is come,
That strong Urthona takes his rest;
And Urizen, unloos’d from chains,
Glows like a meteor in the distant North.
Stretch forth your hands and strike the elemental strings!
Awake the thunders of the deep!

‘The shrill winds wake,
Till all the sons of Urizen look out and envy Los.
Seize all the spirits of life, and bind
Their warbling joys to our loud strings!
Bind all the nourishing sweets of earth
To give us bliss, that we may drink the sparkling wine of Los!
And let us laugh at war,
Despising toil and care,
Because the days and nights of joy in lucky hours renew.

‘Arise, O Orc, from thy deep den!
First-born of Enitharmon, rise!
And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine;
For now thou art bound,
And I may see thee in the hour of bliss, my eldest-born.’

The horrent Demon rose, surrounded with red stars of fire,
Whirling about in furious circles round the Immortal Fiend.

Then Enitharmon down descended into his red light,
And thus her voice rose to her children: the distant heavens reply:—

‘Now comes the night of Enitharmon’s joy!
Who shall I call? Who shall I send,
That Woman, lovely Woman, may have dominion?
Arise, O Rintrah! thee I call, and Palamabron, thee!
Go! tell the Human race that Woman’s love is Sin;
That an Eternal life awaits the worms of sixty winters,
In an allegorical abode, where existence hath never come.
Forbid all Joy; and, from her childhood, shall the little Female
Spread nets in every secret path.

‘My weary eyelids draw towards the evening; my bliss is yet but new.

‘Arise! O Rintrah, eldest-born, second to none but Orc!
O lion Rintrah, raise thy fury from thy forests black!
Bring Palamabron, hornèd priest, skipping upon the mountains,
And silent Elynittria, the silver-bowèd queen.
Rintrah, where hast thou hid thy bride?
Weeps she in desert shades?
Alas! my Rintrah, bring the lovely jealous Ocalythron.

‘Arise, my son! bring all thy brethren, O thou King of Fire!
Prince of the Sun! I see thee with thy innumerable race,
Thick as the summer stars;
But each, ramping, his golden mane shakes,
And thine eyes rejoice because of strength, O Rintrah, furious King!’

Enitharmon slept
Eighteen hundred years. Man was a dream,
The night of Nature and their harps unstrung!
She slept in middle of her nightly song
Eighteen hundred years, a Female dream.

Shadows of men in fleeting bands upon the winds
Divide the heavens of Europe;
Till Albion’s Angel, smitten with his own plagues, fled with his bands.
The cloud bears hard on Albion’s shore,
Fill’d with immortal Demons of futurity:
In council gather the smitten Angels of Albion;
The cloud bears hard upon the council-house, down rushing
On the heads of Albion’s Angels.

One hour they lay burièd beneath the ruins of that hall;
But as the stars rise from the Salt Lake, they arise in pain,
In troubled mists, o’erclouded by the terrors of struggling times.

In thoughts perturb’d they rose from the bright ruins, silent following
The fiery King, who sought his ancient temple, serpent-form’d,
That stretches out its shady length along the Island white.
Round him roll’d his clouds of war; silent the Angel went
Along the infinite shores of Thames to golden Verulam.
There stand the venerable porches, that high-towering rear
Their oak-surrounded pillars, form’d of massy stones, uncut
With tool, stones precious!—such eternal in the heavens,
Of colours twelve (few known on earth) give light in the opaque,
Plac’d in the order of the stars; when the five senses whelm’d
In deluge o’er the earth-born man, then turn’d the fluxile eyes
Into two stationary orbs, concentrating all things:
The ever-varying spiral ascents to the Heavens of Heavens
Were bended downward, and the nostrils’ golden gates shut,
Turn’d outward, barr’d, and petrify’d against the Infinite.

Thought chang’d the Infinite to a Serpent, that which pitieth
To a devouring flame; and Man fled from its face and hid
In forests of night: then all the eternal forests were divided
Into earths, rolling in circles of Space, that like an ocean rush’d
And overwhelmèd all except this finite wall of flesh.
Then was the Serpent temple form’d, image of Infinite,
Shut up in finite revolutions, and Man became an Angel,
Heaven a mighty circle turning, God a tyrant crown’d

Now arriv’d the ancient Guardian at the southern porch,
That planted thick with trees of blackest leaf, and in a vale
Obscure enclos’d the Stone of Night; oblique it stood, o’erhung
With purple flowers and berries red, image of that sweet South,
Once open to the heavens, and elevated on the human neck,
Now overgrown with hair, and cover’d with a stony roof.
Downward ’tis sunk beneath th’ attractive North, that round the feet,
A raging whirlpool, draws the dizzy enquirer to his grave.

Albion’s Angel rose upon the Stone of Night.
He saw Urizen on the Atlantic;
And his brazen Book,
That Kings and Priests had copièd on Earth,
Expanded from North to South.

And the clouds and fires pale roll’d round in the night of Enitharmon,
Round Albion’s cliffs and London’s walls: still Enitharmon slept.
Rolling volumes of grey mist involve Churches, Palaces, Towers;
For Urizen unclasp’d his Book, feeding his soul with pity.
The youth of England, hid in gloom, curse the pain’d heavens, compell’d
Into the deadly night to see the form of Albion’s Angel.
Their parents brought them forth, and Agèd Ignorance preaches, canting,
On a vast rock, perceiv’d by those senses that are clos’d from thought—
Bleak, dark, abrupt it stands, and overshadows London city.
They saw his bony feet on the rock, the flesh consum’d in flames;
They saw the Serpent temple lifted above, shadowing the Island white;
They heard the voice of Albion’s Angel, howling in flames of Orc,
Seeking the trump of the Last Doom.

Above the rest the howl was heard from Westminster, louder and louder: 120
The Guardian of the secret codes forsook his ancient mansion,
Driven out by the flames of Orc; his furr’d robes and false locks
Adherèd and grew one with his flesh and nerves, and veins shot thro’ them.
With dismal torment sick, hanging upon the wind, he fled
Grovelling, along Great George Street, thro’ the Park gate: all the soldiers
Fled from his sight: he dragg’d his torments to the wilderness.

Thus was the howl thro’ Europe!
For Orc rejoic’d to hear the howling shadows;
But Palamabron shot his lightnings, trenching down his wide back;
And Rintrah hung with all his legions in the nether deep.

Enitharmon laugh’d in her sleep to see (O woman’s triumph!)
Every house a den, every man bound: the shadows are fill’d
With spectres, and the windows wove over with curses of iron:
Over the doors ‘Thou shalt not’, and over the chimneys ‘Fear’ is written:
With bands of iron round their necks fasten’d into the walls
The citizens, in leaden gyves the inhabitants of suburbs
Walk heavy; soft and bent are the bones of villagers.

Between the clouds of Urizen the flames of Orc roll heavy
Around the limbs of Albion’s Guardian, his flesh consuming:
Howlings and hissings, shrieks and groans, and voices of despair
Arise around him in the cloudy heavens of Albion. Furious,
The red-limb’d Angel seiz’d in horror and torment
The trump of the Last Doom; but he could not blow the iron tube!
Thrice he assay’d presumptuous to awake the dead to Judgement.
A mighty Spirit leap’d from the land of Albion,
Nam’d Newton: he seiz’d the trump, and blow’d the enormous blast!
Yellow as leaves of autumn, the myriads of Angelic hosts
Fell thro’ the wintry skies, seeking their graves,
Rattling their hollow bones in howling and lamentation.

Then Enitharmon woke, nor knew that she had slept;
And eighteen hundred years were fled
As if they had not been.
She call’d her sons and daughters
To the sports of night
Within her crystal house,
And thus her song proceeds:—

‘Arise, Ethinthus! tho’ the earth-worm call,
Let him call in vain,
Till the night of holy shadows
And human solitude is past!

‘Ethinthus, Queen of Waters, how thou shinest in the sky!
My daughter, how do I rejoice! for thy children flock around,
Like the gay fishes on the wave, when the cold moon drinks the dew.
Ethinthus! thou art sweet as comforts to my fainting soul,
For now thy waters warble round the feet of Enitharmon.

‘Manatha-Varcyon! I behold thee flaming in my halls.
Light of thy mother’s soul! I see thy lovely eagles round;
Thy golden wings are my delight, and thy flames of soft delusion.

‘Where is my luring bird of Eden? Leutha, silent love!
Leutha, the many-colour’d bow delights upon thy wings!
Soft soul of flowers, Leutha!
Sweet smiling Pestilence! I see thy blushing light;
Thy daughters, many changing,
Revolve like sweet perfumes ascending, O Leutha, Silken Queen!

‘Where is the youthful Antamon, Prince of the Pearly Dew?
O Antamon! why wilt thou leave thy mother Enitharmon?
Alone I see thee, crystal from,
Floating upon the bosom’d air,
With lineaments of gratified desire,
My Antamon! the seven churches of Leutha seek thy love.

‘I hear the soft Oothoon in Enitharmon’s tents;
Why wilt thou give up woman’s secrecy my melancholy child?
Between two moments Bliss is rip.
O Theotormon! robb’d of joy, I see thy salt tears flow
Down the steps of my crystal house,

‘Sotha and Thiralatha! secret dwellers of dreamful caves,
Arise and please the horrent Friend with your melodious songs;
Still all your thunders, golden-hoof’d, and bind horses black.
Orc! smile, upon my children,
Smile, son of my afflictions!
Arise, O Orc, and give our mountains joy of thy red light!

She ceas’d; for all were forth at sport beneath the solemn moon
Waking the stars of Urizen with their immortal songs;
That Nature felt thro’ all her pores the enormous revelry,
Till Morning oped the eastern gate;
Then every one fled to his station, and Enitharmon wept.

But terrible Orc, when he beheld the morning in the East,
Shot from the heights of Enitharmon,
And in the vineyard of red France appear’d the light of his fury,

The Sun glow’d fiery red!
The furious Terrors flew around
On golden chariots, raging with red wheels, dropping with blood!
The Lions lash their wrathful tails!
The Tigers couch upon the prey and suck the ruddy tide;
And Enitharmon groans and cries in anguish and dismay

Then Los arose: his head he rear’d, in snaky thunders clad;
And with a cry that shook all Nature to the utmost pole,
Call’d all his sons to the strife of blood.

Laughing Song by William Blake

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

when the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing ‘Ha, ha he!’

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha, ha, he!’

Holy Thursday by William Blake

‘Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green,
Grey headed beadles walk’d before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul’s they like Thames’ waters flow.

Oh what a multitude they seem’d, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

Part of ‘Songs of Innocence’