The Book of Urizen

William Blake

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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Plate 1

Plate 2


Of the primeval Priests assum'd power,

When Eternals spurn'd back his religion;

And gave him a place in the north,

Obscure, shadowy, void, solitary.

Eternals I hear your call gladly,

Dictate swift winged words, & fear not

To unfold your dark visions of torment.

Plate 3

Chap: I

1. Lo, a shadow of horror is risen

In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific!

Self-closd, all-repelling: what Demon

Hath form'd this abominable void

This soul-shudd'ring vacuum?--Some said

"It is Urizen", But unknown, abstracted

Brooding secret, the dark power hid.

2.Times on times he divided, & measur'd

Space by space in his ninefold darkness

Unseen, unknown! changes appeard

In his desolate mountains rifted furious

By the black winds of perturbation

3. For he strove in battles dire

In unseen conflictions with shapes

Bred from his forsaken wilderness,

Of beast, bird, fish, serpent & element

Combustion, blast, vapour and cloud.

4. Dark revolving in silent activity:

Unseen in tormenting passions;

An activity unknown and horrible;

A self-contemplating shadow,

In enormous labours occupied

5. But Eternals beheld his vast forests

Age on ages he lay, clos'd, unknown

Brooding shut in the deep; all avoid

The petrific abominable chaos

6. His cold horrors silent, dark Urizen

Prepar'd: his ten thousands of thunders

Rang'd in gloom'd array stretch out across

The dread world, & the rolling of wheels

As of swelling seas, sound in his clouds

In his hills of stor'd snows, in his mountains

Of hail & ice; voices of terror,

Are heard, like thunders of autumn,

When the cloud blazes over the harvests

Plate 4

Chap: II.

1. Earth was not: nor globes of attraction

The will of the Immortal expanded

Or contracted his all flexible senses.

Death was not, but eternal life sprung

2. The sound of a trumpet the heavens

Awoke & vast clouds of blood roll'd

Round the dim rocks of Urizen, so nam'd

That solitary one in Immensity

3. Shrill the trumpet: & myriads of Eternity,

Muster around the bleak desarts

Now fill'd with clouds, darkness & waters

That roll'd perplex'd labring & utter'd

Words articulate, bursting in thunders

That roll'd on the tops of his mountains

4: From the depths of dark solitude. From

The eternal abode in my holiness,

Hidden set apart in my stern counsels

Reserv'd for the days of futurity,

I have sought for a joy without pain,

For a solid without fluctuation

Why will you die O Eternals?

Why live in unquenchable burnings?

5 First I fought with the fire; consum'd

Inwards, into a deep world within:

A void immense, wild dark & deep,

Where nothing was: Natures wide womb

And self balanc'd stretch'd o'er the void

I alone, even I! the winds merciless

Bound; but condensing, in torrents

They fall & fall; strong I repell'd

The vast waves, & arose on the waters

A wide world of solid obstruction

6. Here alone I in books formd of metals

Have written the secrets of wisdom

The secrets of dark contemplation

By fightings and conflicts dire,

With terrible monsters Sin-bred:

Which the bosoms of all inhabit;

Seven deadly Sins of the soul.

7. Lo! I unfold my darkness: and on

This rock, place with strong hand the Book

Of eternal brass, written in my solitude.

8. Laws of peace, of love, of unity:

Of pity, compassion, forgiveness.

Let each chuse one habitation:

His ancient infinite mansion:

One command, one joy, one desire,

One curse, one weight, one measure

One King, one God, one Law.

Plate 5

Chap: III.

1. The voice ended, they saw his pale visage

Emerge from the darkness; his hand

On the rock of eternity unclasping

The Book of brass. Rage siez'd the strong

2. Rage, fury, intense indignation

In cataracts of fire blood & gall

In whirlwinds of sulphurous smoke:

And enormous forms of energy;

All the seven deadly sins of the soul

In living creations appear'd

In the flames of eternal fury.

3. Sund'ring, dark'ning, thund'ring!

Rent away with a terrible crash

Eternity roll'd wide apart

Wide asunder rolling

Mountainous all around

Departing; departing; departing:

Leaving ruinous fragments of life

Hanging frowning cliffs & all between

An ocean of voidness unfathomable.

4. The roaring fires ran o'er the heav'ns

In whirlwinds & cataracts of blood

And o'er the dark desarts of Urizen

Fires pour thro' the void on all sides

On Urizens self-begotten armies.

5. But no light from the fires. all was darkness

In the flames of Eternal fury

6. In fierce anguish & quenchless flames

To the desarts and rocks He ran raging

To hide, but He could not: combining

He dug mountains & hills in vast strength,

He piled them in incessant labour,

In howlings & pangs & fierce madness

Long periods in burning fires labouring

Till hoary, and age-broke, and aged,

In despair and the shadows of death.

7. And a roof, vast petrific around,

On all sides He fram'd: like a womb;

Where thousands of rivers in veins

Of blood pour down the mountains to cool

The eternal fires beating without

From Eternals; & like a black globe

View'd by sons of Eternity, standing

On the shore of the infinite ocean

Like a human heart strugling & beating

The vast world of Urizen appear'd.

8. And Los round the dark globe of Urizen,

Kept watch for Eternals to confine,

The obscure separation alone;

For Eternity stood wide apart,

As the stars are apart from the earth

9. Los wept howling around the dark Demon:

And cursing his lot; for in anguish,

Urizen was rent from his side;

And a fathomless void for his feet;

And intense fires for his dwelling.

10. But Urizen laid in a stony sleep

Unorganiz'd, rent from Eternity

11. The Eternals said: What is this? Death

Urizen is a clod of clay.

12: Los howld in a dismal stupor,

Groaning! gnashing! groaning!

Till the wrenching apart was healed

13: But the wrenching of Urizen heal'd not

Cold, featureless, flesh or clay,

Rifted with direful changes

He lay in a dreamless night

14: Till Los rouz'd his fires, affrighted

At the formless unmeasurable death.

Plate 6

Plate 7

Plate 8

Chap: IV:[a]

1: Los smitten with astonishment

Frightend at the hurtling bones

2: And at the surging sulphureous

Perturbed Immortal mad raging

3: In whirlwinds & pitch & nitre

Round the furious limbs of Los

4: And Los formed nets & gins

And threw the nets round about

5: He watch'd in shuddring fear

The dark changes & bound every change

With rivets of iron & brass;

6. And these were the changes of Urizen.

Plate 9

Plate 10

Chap: IV.[b]

1. Ages on ages roll'd over him!

In stony sleep ages roll'd over him!

Like a dark waste stretching chang'able

By earthquakes riv'n, belching sullen fires

On ages roll'd ages in ghastly

Sick torment; around him in whirlwinds

Of darkness the eternal Prophet howl'd

Beating still on his rivets of iron

Pouring sodor of iron; dividing

The horrible night into watches.

2. And Urizen (so his eternal name)

His prolific delight obscurd more & more

In dark secresy hiding in surgeing

Sulphureous fluid his phantasies.

The Eternal Prophet heavd the dark bellows,

And turn'd restless the tongs; and the hammer

Incessant beat; forging chains new & new

Numb'ring with links. hours, days & years

3. The eternal mind bounded began to roll

Eddies of wrath ceaseless round & round,

And the sulphureous foam surgeing thick

Settled, a lake, bright, & shining clear:

White as the snow on the mountains cold.

4. Forgetfulness, dumbness, necessity!

In chains of the mind locked up,

Like fetters of ice shrinking together

Disorganiz'd, rent from Eternity,

Los beat on his fetters of iron;

And heated his furnaces & pour'd

Iron sodor and sodor of brass

5. Restless turnd the immortal inchain'd

Heaving dolorous! anguish'd! unbearable

Till a roof shaggy wild inclos'd

In an orb, his fountain of thought.

6. In a horrible dreamful slumber;

Like the linked infernal chain;

A vast Spine writh'd in torment

Upon the winds; shooting pain'd

Ribs, like a bending cavern

And bones of solidness, froze

Over all his nerves of joy.

And a first Age passed over,

And a state of dismal woe.

7. From the caverns of his jointed Spine,

Down sunk with fright a red

Round globe hot burning deep

Deep down into the Abyss:

Panting: Conglobing, Trembling

Shooting out ten thousand branches

Around his solid bones.

And a second Age passed over,

And a state of dismal woe.

8. In harrowing fear rolling round;

His nervous brain shot branches

Round the branches of his heart.

On high into two little orbs

And fixed in two little caves

Hiding carefully from the wind,

His Eyes beheld the deep,

And a third Age passed over:

And a state of dismal woe.

9. The pangs of hope began,

In heavy pain striving, struggling.

Two Ears in close volutions.

From beneath his orbs of vision

Shot spiring out and petrified

As they grew. And a fourth Age passed

And a state of dismal woe.

10. In ghastly torment sick;

Hanging upon the wind;

Two Nostrils bent down to the deep.

And a fifth Age passed over;

And a state of dismal woe.

11. In ghastly torment sick;

Within his ribs bloated round,

A craving Hungry Cavern;

Thence arose his channeld Throat,

And like a red flame a Tongue

Of thirst & of hunger appeard.

And a sixth Age passed over:

And a state of dismal woe.

12. Enraged & stifled with torment

He threw his right Arm to the north

His left Arm to the south

Shooting out in anguish deep,

And his Feet stampd the nether Abyss

In trembling & howling & dismay.

And a seventh Age passed over:

And a state of dismal woe.

Plate 11

Plate 12

Plate 13

Chap: V.

1. In terrors Los shrunk from his task:

His great hammer fell from his hand:

His fires beheld, and sickening,

Hid their strong limbs in smoke.

For with noises ruinous loud;

With hurtlings & clashings & groans

The Immortal endur'd his chains,

Tho' bound in a deadly sleep.

2. All the myriads of Eternity:

All the wisdom & joy of life:

Roll like a sea around him,

Except what his little orbs

Of sight by degrees unfold.

3. And now his eternal life

Like a dream was obliterated

4. Shudd'ring, the Eternal Prophet smote

With a stroke, from his north to south region

The bellows & hammer are silent now

A nerveless silence, his prophetic voice

Siez'd; a cold solitude & dark void

The Eternal Prophet & Urizen clos'd

5. Ages on ages rolld over them

Cut off from life & light frozen

Into horrible forms of deformity

Los suffer'd his fires to decay

Then he look'd back with anxious desire

But the space undivided by existence

Struck horror into his soul.

6. Los wept obscur'd with mourning:

His bosom earthquak'd with sighs;

He saw Urizen deadly black,

In his chains bound, & Pity began,

7. In anguish dividing & dividing

For pity divides the soul

In pangs eternity on eternity

Life in cataracts pourd down his cliffs

The void shrunk the lymph into Nerves

Wand'ring wide on the bosom of night

And left a round globe of blood

Trembling upon the Void

Thus the Eternal Prophet was divided

Before the death-image of Urizen

For in changeable clouds and darkness

In a winterly night beneath,

The Abyss of Los stretch'd immense:

And now seen, now obscur'd, to the eyes

Of Eternals, the visions remote

Of the dark seperation appear'd.

As glasses discover Worlds

In the endless Abyss of space,

So the expanding eyes of Immortals

Beheld the dark visions of Los,

And the globe of life blood trembling

8. The globe of life blood trembled

Branching out into roots;

Fib'rous, writhing upon the winds;

Fibres of blood, milk and tears;

In pangs, eternity on eternity.

At length in tears & cries imbodied

A female form trembling and pale

Waves before his deathy face

9. All Eternity shudderd at sight

Of the first female now separate

Pale as a cloud of snow

Waving before the face of Los

10. Wonder, awe, fear, astonishment,

Petrify the eternal myriads;

At the first female form now separate

They call'd her Pity, and fled

11. "Spread a Tent, with strong curtains around them

"Let cords & stakes bind in the Void

That Eternals may no more behold them"

12. They began to weave curtains of darkness

They erected large pillars round the Void

With golden hooks fastend in the pillars

With infinite labour the Eternals

A woof wove, and called it Science

Plate 14

Plate 15

Plate 16

Plate 17

Plate 18

Plate 19

Chap: VI.

1. But Los saw the Female & pitied

He embrac'd her, she wept, she refus'd

In perverse and cruel delight

She fled from his arms, yet he followd

2. Eternity shudder'd when they saw,

Man begetting his likeness,

On his own divided image.

3. A time passed over, the Eternals

Began to erect the tent;

When Enitharmon sick,

Felt a Worm within her womb.

4. Yet helpless it lay like a Worm

In the trembling womb

To be moulded into existence

5. All day the worm lay on her bosom

All night within her womb

The worm lay till it grew to a serpent

With dolorous hissings & poisons

Round Enitharmons loins folding,

6. Coild within Enitharmons womb

The serpent grew casting its scales,

With sharp pangs the hissings began

To change to a grating cry,

Many sorrows and dismal throes,

Many forms of fish, bird & beast,

Brought forth an Infant form

Where was a worm before.

7. The Eternals their tent finished

Alarm'd with these gloomy visions

When Enitharmon groaning

Produc'd a man Child to the light.

8. A shriek ran thro' Eternity:

And a paralytic stroke;

At the birth of the Human shadow.

9. Delving earth in his resistless way;

Howling, the Child with fierce flames

Issu'd from Enitharmon.

10. The Eternals, closed the tent

They beat down the stakes the cords

Stretch'd for a work of eternity;

No more Los beheld Eternity.

11. In his hands he siez'd the infant

He bathed him in springs of sorrow

He gave him to Enitharmon.

Plate 20

Chap. VII.

1. They named the child Orc, he grew

Fed with milk of Enitharmon

2. Los awoke her; O sorrow & pain!

A tight'ning girdle grew,

Around his bosom. In sobbings

He burst the girdle in twain,

But still another girdle

Opressd his bosom, In sobbings

Again he burst it. Again

Another girdle succeeds

The girdle was form'd by day;

By night was burst in twain.

3. These falling down on the rock

Into an iron Chain

In each other link by link lock'd

4. They took Orc to the top of a mountain.

O how Enitharmon wept!

They chain'd his young limbs to the rock

With the Chain of Jealousy

Beneath Urizens deathful shadow

5. The dead heard the voice of the child

And began to awake from sleep

All things. heard the voice of the child

And began to awake to life.

6. And Urizen craving with hunger

Stung with the odours of Nature

Explor'd his dens around

7. He form'd a line & a plummet

To divide the Abyss beneath.

He form'd a dividing rule:

8. He formed scales to weigh;

He formed massy weights;

He formed a brazen quadrant;

He formed golden compasses

And began to explore the Abyss

And he planted a garden of fruits

9. But Los encircled Enitharmon

With fires of Prophecy

From the sight of Urizen & Orc.

10. And she bore an enormous race

Plate 21

Plate 22

Chap. VIII.

1. Urizen explor'd his dens

Mountain, moor, & wilderness,

With a globe of fire lighting his journey

A fearful journey, annoy'd

By cruel enormities: forms

Of life on his forsaken mountains

2. And his world teemd vast enormities

Frightning; faithless; fawning

Portions of life; similitudes

Of a foot, or a hand, or a head

Or a heart, or an eye, they swam mischevous

Dread terrors! delighting in blood

3. Most Urizen sicken'd to see

His eternal creations appear

Sons & daughters of sorrow on mountains

Weeping! wailing! first Thiriel appear'd

Astonish'd at his own existence

Like a man from a cloud born, & Utha

From the waters emerging, laments!

Grodna rent the deep earth howling

Amaz'd! his heavens immense cracks

Like the ground parch'd with heat; then Fuzon

Flam'd out! first begotten, last born.

All his eternal sons in like manner

His daughters from green herbs & cattle

From monsters, & worms of the pit.

4. He in darkness clos'd, view'd all his race,

And his soul sicken'd! he curs'd

Both sons & daughters; for he saw

That no flesh nor spirit could keep

His iron laws one moment.

5. For he saw that life liv'd upon death

The Ox in the slaughter house moans

The Dog at the wintry door

And he wept, & he called it Pity

And his tears flowed down on the winds

6. Cold he wander'd on high, over their cities

In weeping & pain & woe!

And where-ever he wanderd in sorrows

Upon the aged heavens

A cold shadow follow'd behind him

Like a spiders web, moist, cold, & dim

Drawing out from his sorrowing soul

The dungeon-like heaven dividing.

Where ever the footsteps of Urizen

Walk'd over the cities in sorrow.

7. Till a Web dark & cold, throughout all

The tormented element stretch'd

From the sorrows of Urizens soul

And the Web is a Female in embrio

None could break the Web, no wings of fire.

8. So twisted the cords, & so knotted

The meshes: twisted like to the human brain

9. And all calld it, The Net of Religion

Plate 23

Plate 24

Plate 25

Chap: IX

1. Then the Inhabitants of those Cities:

Felt their Nerves change into Marrow

And hardening Bones began

In swift diseases and torments,

In throbbings & shootings & grindings

Thro' all the coasts; till weaken'd

The Senses inward rush'd shrinking,

Beneath the dark net of infection.

2. Till the shrunken eyes clouded over

Discernd not the woven hipocrisy

But the streaky slime in their heavens

Brought together by narrowing perceptions

Appeard transparent air; for their eyes

Grew small like the eyes of a man

And in reptile forms shrinking together

Of seven feet stature they remaind

3. Six days they shrunk up from existence

And on the seventh day they rested

And they bless'd the seventh day, in sick hope:

And forgot their eternal life

4. And their thirty cities divided

In form of a human heart

No more could they rise at will

In the infinite void, but bound down

To earth by their narrowing perceptions

They lived a period of years

Then left a noisom body

To the jaws of devouring darkness

5. And their children wept, & built

Tombs in the desolate places,

And form'd laws of prudence, and call'd them

The eternal laws of God

6. And the thirty cities remaind

Surrounded by salt floods, now call'd

Africa: its name was then Egypt.

7. The remaining sons of Urizen

Beheld their brethren shrink together

Beneath the Net of Urizen;

Perswasion was in vain;

For the ears of the inhabitants,

Were wither'd, & deafen'd, & cold:

And their eyes could not discern,

Their brethren of other cities.

8. So Fuzon call'd all together

The remaining children of Urizen:

And they left the pendulous earth:

They called it Egypt, & left it.

9. And the salt ocean rolled englob'd

The End of the Book of Urizen

Plate 26

Plate 27

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005