Sunday, November 16, 2008

The French Revolution by William Blake part 3

But the dens shook and trembled, the prisoners look up and assay to shout; they listen,
Then laugh in the dismal den, then are silent, and a light walks round the dark towers.
For the Commons convene in the Hall of the Nation; like spirits of fire in the beautiful
Porches of the Sun, to plant beauty in the desart craving abyss, they gleam
On the anxious city; all children new-born first behold them; tears are fled,
And they nestle in earth-breathing bosoms. So the city of Paris, their wives and children,
Look up to the morning Senate, and visions of sorrow leave pensive streets.
But heavy brow'd jealousies lower o'er the Louvre, and terrors of ancient Kings
Descend from the gloom and wander thro' the palace, and weep round the King and his
While loud thunders roll, troubling the dead, Kings are sick throughout all the earth,
The voice ceas'd: the Nation sat: And the triple forg'd fetters of times were unloos'd.
The voice ceas'd: the Nation sat: but ancient darkness and trembling wander thro' the palace.
As in day of havock and routed battle, among thick shades of discontent,
On the soul-skirting mountains of sorrow cold waving: the Nobles fold round the King,
Each stern visage lock'd up as with strong bands of iron, each strong limb bound down as
with marble,
In flames of red wrath burning, bound in astonishment a quarter of an hour.
Then the King glow'd: his Nobles fold round, like the sun of old time quench'd in clouds;
In their darkness the King stood, his heart flam'd, and utter'd a with'ring heat, and these
words burst forth:
The nerves of five thousand years ancestry tremble, shaking the heavens of France;
Throbs of anguish beat on brazen war foreheads, they descend and look into their graves.
I see thro' darkness, thro' clouds rolling round me, the spirits of ancient Kings
Shivering over their bleached bones; round them their counsellors look up from the dust,
Crying: Hide from the living! Our b[a]nds and our prisoners shout in the open field,
Hide in the nether earth! Hide in the bones! Sit obscured in the hollow scull.
Our flesh is corrupted, and we [wear] away. We are not numbered among the living. Let us
In stones, among roots of trees. The prisoners have burst their dens,
Let us hide; let us hide in the dust; and plague and wrath and tempest shall cease.
He ceas'd, silent pond'ring, his brows folded heavy, his forehead was in affliction,
Like the central fire: from the window he saw his vast armies spread over the hills,
Breathing red fires from man to man, and from horse to horse; then his bosom
Expanded like starry heaven, he sat down: his Nobles took their ancient seats.
Then the ancientest Peer, Duke of Burgundy, rose from the Monarch's right hand, red as
From his mountains, an odor of war, like a ripe vineyard, rose from his garments,
And the chamber became as a clouded sky; o'er the council he stretch'd his red limbs,
Cloth'd in flames of crimson, as a ripe vineyard stretches over sheaves of corn,
The fierce Duke hung over the council; around him croud, weeping in his burning robe,
A bright cloud of infant souls; his words fall like purple autumn on the sheaves.
Shall this marble built heaven become a clay cottage, this earth an oak stool, and these
From the Atlantic mountains, mow down all this great starry harvest of six thousand years?
And shall Necker, the hind of Geneva, stretch out his crook'd sickle o'er fertile France,
Till our purple and crimson is faded to russet, and the kingdoms of earth bound in sheaves,
And the ancient forests of chivalry hewn, and the joys of the combat burnt for fuel;
Till the power and dominion is rent from the pole, sword and scepter from sun and moon,
The law and gospel from fire and air, and eternal reason and science
From the deep and the solid, and man lay his faded head down on the rock
Of eternity, where the eternal lion and eagle remain to devour?
This to prevent, urg'd by cries in day, and prophetic dreams hovering in night,
To enrich the lean earth that craves, furrow'd with plows; whose seed is departing from her;
Thy Nobles have gather'd thy starry hosts round this rebellious city,
To rouze up the ancient forests of Europe, with clarions of cloud breathing war;
To hear the horse neigh to the drum and trumpet, and the trumpet and war shout reply;
Stretch the hand that beckons the eagles of heaven; they cry over Paris, and wait
Till Fayette point his finger to Versailles; the eagles of heaven must have their prey.
The King lean'd on his mountains, then lifted his head and look'd on his armies, that shone
Through heaven, tinging morning with beams of blood, then turning to Burgundy troubled:
Burgundy, thou wast born a lion! My soul is o'ergrown with distress
For the Nobles of France, and dark mists roll round me and blot the writing of God
Written in my bosom. Necker rise, leave the kingdom, thy life is surrounded with snares;
We have call'd an Assembly, but not to destroy; we have given gifts, not to the weak;
I hear rushing of muskets, and bright'ning of swords, and visages redd'ning with war,
Frowning and looking up from brooding villages and every dark'ning city;
Ancient wonders frown over the kingdom, and cries of women and babes are heard,
And tempests of doubt roll around me, and fierce sorrows, because of the Nobles of
Depart, answer not, for the tempest must fall, as in years that are passed away.
He ceas'd, and burn'd silent, red clouds roll round Necker, a weeping is heard o'er the
Like a dark cloud Necker paus'd, and like thunder on the just man's burial day he paus'd;
Silent sit the winds, silent the meadows, while the husbandman and woman of weakness
And bright children look after him into the grave, and water his clay with love,
Then turn towards pensive fields; so Necker paus'd, and his visage was cover'd with clouds.
Dropping a tear the old man his place left, and when he was gone out
He set his face toward Geneva to flee, and the women and children of the city
Kneel'd round him and kissed his garments and wept; he stood a short space in the street,
Then fled; and the whole city knew he was fled to Geneva, and the Senate heard it.
But the Nobles burn'd wrathful at Necker's departure, and wreath'd their clouds and waters
In dismal volumes; as risen from beneath the Archbishop of Paris arose,
In the rushing of scales and hissing of flames and rolling of sulphurous smoke.
Hearken, Monarch of France, to the terrors of heaven, and let thy soul drink of my counsel;
Sleeping at midnight in my golden tower, the repose of the labours of men
Wav'd its solemn cloud over my head. I awoke; a cold hand passed over my limbs, and
An aged form, white as snow, hov'ring in mist, weeping in the uncertain light,
Dim the form almost faded, tears fell down the shady cheeks; at his feet many cloth'd
In white robes, strewn in air sensers and harps, silent they lay prostrated;
Beneath, in the awful void, myriads descending and weeping thro' dismal winds,
Endless the shady train shiv'ring descended, from the gloom where the aged form wept.
At length, trembling, the vision sighing, in a low voice, like the voice of the grasshopper
My groaning is heard in the abbeys, and God, so long worshipp'd, departs as a lamp
Without oil; for a curse is heard hoarse thro' the land, from a godless race
Descending to beasts; they look downward and labour and forget my holy law;
The sound of prayer fails from lips of flesh, and the holy hymn from thicken'd tongues;
For the bars of Chaos are burst; her millions prepare their fiery way
Thro' the orbed abode of the holy dead, to root up and pull down and remove,
And Nobles and Clergy shall fail from before me, and my cloud and vision be no more;
The mitre become black, the crown vanish, and the scepter and ivory staff
Of the ruler wither among bones of death; thy shall consume from the thistly field,
And the sound of the bell, and voice of the sabbath, and singing of the holy choir,

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