Visions of the Daughters of Albion


William Blake

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eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

VISIONS
of
the Daughters of
Albion

The Eye sees more than the Heart knows.
Printed by Will.m Blake: 1793.

The Argument

I loved Theotormon

And I was not ashamed

I trembled in my virgin fears

And I hid in Leutha’s vale!

I plucked Leutha’s flower,

And I rose up from the vale;

But the terrible thunders tore

My virgin mantle in twain.

Visions

ENSLAV’D, the Daughters of Albion weep: a trembling lamentation

Upon their mountains; in their valleys. sighs toward America.

For the soft soul of America, Oothoon wanderd in woe,

Along the vales of Leutha seeking flowers to comfort her;

And thus she spoke to the bright Marygold of Leutha’s vale

Art thou a flower! art thou a nymph! I see thee now a flower;

Now a nymph! I dare not pluck thee from thy dewy bed!

The Golden nymph replied; pluck thou my flower Oothoon the mild

Another flower shall spring, because the soul of sweet delight

Can never pass away. she ceas’d & closd her golden shrine.

Then Oothoon pluck’d the flower saying, I pluck thee from thy bed

Sweet flower. and put thee here to glow between my breasts

And thus I turn my face to where my whole soul seeks.

Over the waves she went in wing’d exulting swift delight;

And over Theotormons reign, took her impetuous course.

Bromion rent her with his thunders. on his stormy bed

Lay the faint maid, and soon her woes appalld his thunders hoarse

Bromion spoke. behold this harlot here on Bromions bed,

And let the jealous dolphins sport around the lovely maid;

Thy soft American plains are mine, and mine thy north & south:

Stampt with my signet are the swarthy children of the sun:

They are obedient, they resist not, they obey the scourge:

Their daughters worship terrors and obey the violent:

Now thou maist marry Bromions harlot, and protect the child

Of Bromions rage, that Oothoon shall put forth in nine moons time

Then storms rent Theotormons limbs; he rolld his waves around.

And folded his black jealous waters round the adulterate pair

Bound back to back in Bromions caves terror & meekness dwell

At entrance Theotormon sits wearing the threshold hard

With secret tears; beneath him sound like waves on a desart shore

The voice of slaves beneath the sun, and children bought with money.

That shiver in religious caves beneath the burning fires

Of lust, that belch incessant from the summits of the earth

Oothoon weeps not: she cannot weep! her tears are locked up;

But she can howl incessant writhing her soft snowy limbs.

And calling Theotormons Eagles to prey upon her flesh.

I call with holy voice! kings of the sounding air,

Rend away this defiled bosom that I may reflect.

The image of Theotormon on my pure transparent breast.

The Eagles at her call descend & rend their bleeding prey;

Theotormon severely smiles. her soul reflects the smile;

As the clear spring mudded with feet of beasts grows pure & smiles.

The Daughters of Albion hear her woes. & eccho back her sighs.

Why does my Theotormon sit weeping upon the threshold;

And Oothoon hovers by his side, perswading him in vain:

I cry arise O Theotormon for the village dog

Barks at the breaking day. the nightingale has done lamenting.

The lark does rustle in the ripe corn, and the Eagle returns

From nightly prey, and lifts his golden beak to the pure east;

Shaking the dust from his immortal pinions to awake

The sun that sleeps too long. Arise my Theotormon I am pure.

Because the night is gone that clos’d me in its deadly black.

They told me that the night & day were all that I could see;

They told me that I had five senses to inclose me up.

And they inclos’d my infinite brain into a narrow circle,

And sunk my heart into the Abyss, a red round globe hot burning

Till all from life I was obliterated and erased.

Instead of morn arises a bright shddow, like an eye

In the eastern cloud: instead of night a sickly charnel house;

That Theotormon hears me not! to him the night and morn

Are both alike: a night of sighs, a morning of fresh tears;

And none but Bromion can hear my lamentations.

With what sense is it that the chicken shuns the ravenous hawk?

With what sense does the tame pigeon measure out the expanse?

With what sense does the bee form cells? have not the mouse & frog

Eyes and ears and sense of touch? yet are their habitations.

And their pursuits, as different as their forms and as their joys:

Ask the wild ass why he refuses burdens: and the meek camel

Why he loves man: is it because of eye ear mouth or skin

Or breathing nostrils? No. for these the wolf and tyger have.

Ask the blind worm the secrets of the grave, and why her spires

Love to curl round the bones of death; and ask the rav’nous snake

Where she gets poison: & the wing’d eagle why he loves the sun

And then tell me the thoughts of man, that have been hid of old.

Silent I hover all the night, and all day could be silent.

If Theotormon once would turn his loved eyes upon me;

How can I be defild when I reflect thy image pure?

Sweetest the fruit that the worm feeds on. & the soul prey’d on by woe

The new wash’d lamb ting’d with the village smoke & the bright swan

By the red earth of our immortal river: I bathe my wings.

And I am white and pure to hover round Theotormons breast.

Then Theotormon broke his silence. and he answered.

Tell me what is the night or day to one o’erflowd with woe?

Tell me what is a thought? & of what substance is it made?

Tell me what is a joy? & in what gardens do joys grow?

And in what rivers swim the sorrows? and upon what mountains

Wave shadows of discontent? and in what houses dwell the wretched

Drunken with woe forgotten. and shut up from cold despair.

Tell me where dwell the thoughts forgotten till thou call them forth

Tell me where dwell the joys of old! & where the ancient loves?

And when will they renew again & the night of oblivion past?

That I might traverse times & spaces far remote and bring

Comforts into a present sorrow and a night of pain

Where goest thou O thought? to what remote land is thy flight?

If thou returnest to the present moment of affliction

Wilt thou bring comforts on thy wings. and dews and honey and balm;

Or poison from the desart wilds, from the eyes of the envier.

Then Bromion said: and shook the cavern with his lamentation

Thou knowest that the ancient trees seen by thine eyes have fruit;

But knowest thou that trees and fruits flourish upon the earth

To gratify senses unknown? trees beasts and birds unknown:

Unknown, not unpercievd, spread in the infinite microscope,

In places yet unvisited by the voyager. and in worlds

Over another kind of seas, and in atmospheres unknown:

Ah! are there other wars, beside the wars of sword and fire!

And are there other sorrows, beside the sorrows of poverty!

And are there other joys, beside the joys of riches and ease?

And is there not one law for both the lion and the ox?

And is there not eternal fire, and eternal chains?

To bind the phantoms of existence from eternal life?

Then Oothoon waited silent all the day. and all the night,

But when the morn arose, her lamentation renewd,

The Daughters of Albion hear her woes, & eccho back her sighs.

O Urizen! Creator of men! mistaken Demon of heaven:

Thy joys are tears! thy labour vain, to form men to thine image.

How can one joy absorb another? are not different joys

Holy, eternal, infinite! and each joy is a Love.

Does not the great mouth laugh at a gift? & the narrow eyelids mock

At the labour that is above payment, and wilt thou take the ape

For thy councellor? or the dog, for a schoolmaster to thy children?

Does he who contemns poverty, and he who turns with abhorrence

From usury: feel the same passion or are they moved alike?

How can the giver of gifts experience the delights of the merchant?

How the industrious citizen the pains of the husbandman.

How different far the fat fed hireling with hollow drum;

Who buys whole corn fields into wastes, and sings upon the heath:

How different their eye and ear! how different the world to them!

With what sense does the parson claim the labour of the farmer?

What are his nets & gins & traps. & how does he surround him

With cold floods of abstraction, and with forests of solitude,

To build him castles and high spires. where kings & priests may dwell.

Till she who burns with youth. and knows no fixed lot; is bound

In spells of law to one she loaths: and must she drag the chain

Of life, in weary lust! must chilling murderous thoughts. obscure

The clear heaven of her eternal spring? to bear the wintry rage

Of a harsh terror driv’n to madness, bound to hold a rod

Over her shrinking shoulders all the day; & all the night

To turn the wheel of false desire: and longings that wake her womb

To the abhorred birth of cherubs in the human form

That live a pestilence & die a meteor & are no more.

Till the child dwell with one he hates. and do the deed he loaths

And the impure scourge force his seed into its unripe birth

E’er yet his eyelids can behold the arrows of the day.

Does the whale worship at thy footsteps as the hungry dog?

Or does he scent the mountain prey, because his nostrils wide

Draw in the ocean? does his eye discern the flying cloud

As the ravens eye? or does he measure the expanse like the vulture?

Does the still spider view the cliffs where eagles hide their young?

Or does the fly rejoice. because the harvest is brought in?

Does not the eagle scorn the earth & despise the treasures beneath?

But the mole knoweth what is there, & the worm shall tell it thee.

Does not the worm erect a pillar in the mouldering church yard?

And a palace of eternity in the jaws of the hungry grave

Over his porch these words are written. Take thy bliss O Man!

And sweet shall be thy taste & sweet thy infant joys renew!

Infancy, fearless, lustful, happy! nestling for delight

In laps of pleasure; Innocence! honest, open, seeking

The vigorous joys of morning light; open to virgin bliss.

Who taught thee modesty, subtil modesty! child of night & sleep

When thou awakest, wilt thou dissemble all thy secret joys

Or wert thou not awake when all this mystery was disclos’d!

Then com’st thou forth a modest virgin knowing to dissemble

With nets found under thy night pillow, to catch virgin joy,

And brand it with the name of whore; & sell it in the night,

In silence. ev’n without a whisper, and in seeming sleep:

Religious dreams and holy vespers, light thy smoky fires:

Once were thy fires lighted by the eyes of honest morn

And does my Theotormon seek this hypocrite modesty!

This knowing, artful, secret, fearful, cautious, trembling hypocrite.

Then is Oothoon a whore indeed! and all the virgin joys

Of life are harlots: and Theotormon is a sick mans dream

And Oothoon is the crafty slave of selfish holiness.

But Oothoon is not so, a virgin fill’d with virgin fancies

Open to joy and to delight where ever beauty appears

If in the morning sun I find it: there my eyes are fix’d

In happy copulation; if in evening mild. wearied with work;

Sit on a bank and draw the pleasures of this free born joy.

The moment of desire! the moment of desire! The virgin

That pines for man; shall awaken her womb to enormous joys

In the secret shadows of her chamber; the youth shut up from

The lustful joy. shall forget to generate. & create an amorous image

In the shadows of his curtains and in the folds of his silent pillow.

Are not these the places of religion? the rewards of continence?

The self enjoyings of self denial? Why dost thou seek religion?

Is it because acts are not lovely, that thou seekest solitude,

Where the horrible darkness is impressed with reflections of desire.

Father of jealousy. be thou accursed from the earth!

Why hast thou taught my Theotormon this accursed thing?

Till beauty fades from off my shoulders darken’d and cast out,

A solitary shadow wailing on the margin of non-entity.

I cry, Love! Love! Love! happy happy Love! free as the mountain wind!

Can that be Love, that drinks another as a sponge drinks water?

That clouds with jealousy his nights, with weepings all the day:

To spin a web of age around him. grey and hoary! dark!

Till his eyes sicken at the fruit that hangs before his sight.

Such is self-love that envies all! a creeping skeleton

With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed.

But silken nets and traps of adamant will Oothoon spread,

And catch for thee girls of mild silver, or of furious gold;

I’ll lie beside thee on a bank & view their wanton play

In lovely copulation bliss on bliss with Theotormon:

Red as the rosy morning, lustful as the firstborn beam,

Oothoon shall view his dear delight, nor e’er with jealous cloud

Come in the heaven of generous love; nor selfish blightings bring.

Does the sun walk in glorious raiment, on the secret floor

Where the cold miser spreads his gold? or does the bright cloud drop

On his stone threshold? does his eye behold the beam that brings

Expansion to the eye of pity? or will he bind himself

Beside the ox to thy hard furrow? does not that mild beam blot

The bat, the owl, the glowing tyger, and the king of night.

The sea fowl takes the wintry blast. for a cov’ring to her limbs:

And the wild snake, the pestilence to adorn him with gems & gold.

And trees. & birds. & beasts. & men. behold their eternal joy.

Arise you little glancing wings, and sing your infant joy!

Arise and drink your bliss, for every thing that lives is holy!

Thus every morning wails Oothoon. but Theotormon sits

Upon the margind ocean conversing with shadows dire.

The Daughters of Albion hear her woes, & eccho back her sighs.

The End

This web edition published by:

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005