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William Blake (1757-1827)

Milton: The Sky is an Immortal Tent Built by the Sons of Los

(excerpt)


              1The sky is an immortal tent built by the Sons of Los:
              2And every space that a man views around his dwelling-place
              3Standing on his own roof or in his garden on a mount
              4Of twenty-five cubits in height, such space is his universe:
              5And on its verge the sun rises and sets, the clouds bow
              6To meet the flat earth and the sea in such an order'd space:
              7The starry heavens reach no further, but here bend and set
              8On all sides, and the two Poles turn on their valves of gold:
              9And if he moves his dwelling-place, his heavens also move
            10Where'er he goes, and all his neighbourhood bewail his loss.
            11Such are the spaces called Earth and such its dimension.
            12As to that false appearance which appears to the reasoner
            13As of a globe rolling through voidness, it is a delusion of Ulro.
            14The microscope knows not of this nor the telescope: they alter
            15The ratio of the spectator's organs, but leave objects untouch'd.
            16For every space larger than a red globule of Man's blood
            17Is visionary, and is created by the Hammer of Los;
            18And every space smaller than a globule of Man's blood opens
            19Into Eternity of which this vegetable Earth is but a shadow.
            20The red globule is the unwearied sun by Los created
            21To measure time and space to mortal men every morning.

Notes

1] First engraved by Blake in or shortly after 1818, although it bears the date 1804 on its title-page. It is in four parts and comprises one hundred plates. Six copies survive, one in colour. This extract is from the introduction to the fourth part, Plate 28.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Blake, Milton (1804), plate 28, lines 4-24. Blake's Illuminated Books, ed. David Bindman (Princeton, NJ: William Blake Trust; London: Tate Gallery, 1991-). See Vol. 5. PR 4142 B46 1991 ROBA.
First publication date: 1808
Publication date note: ca. 1808 (notwithstanding the date of printing)
RPO poem editor: Northrop Frye
RP edition: 3RP 2.298.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14*1:2003/7/30

Composition date: 1804 - 1808
Form note: unrhymed


Other poems by William Blake