The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their stations; The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrapped up; The bones of death, the cov'ring clay, the sinews shrunk & dry'd. Reviving shake, inspiring move, breathing! awakening! Spring like redeemed captives when their bonds & bars are burst; Let the slave grinding at the mill, run out into the field: Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air; Let the inchained soul shut up in darkness and in sighing, Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years; Rise and look out, his chains are loose, his dungeon doors are open. And let his wife and children return from the opressors scourge; They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream. Singing. The Sun has left his blackness, & has found a fresher morning And the fair Moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night;
For Empire is no more, and now the Lion & Wolf shall cease.
Ezekiel's passage is a precursor.
"The Sun has left his blackness, & has found a fresher morning"
This line is found near the end of Night 9 of 4Z at Erdman 406.
The text is fascinating , also famous among Blake's poems:
"Then the groan & the dolor are quite forgotten & the slavegrinding at the mill
And the captive in chains & the poor in the prison, & the soldier
in the field
When the shatterd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier
(Erdman 325; Night 2 of 4Z.)
"Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air
Let the inchaind soul shut up in darkness & in sighing
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years
Rise & look out his chains are loose his dungeon doors are open
And let his wife & children return from the opressors scourge
They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream
Are these the Slaves that groand along the streets of Mystery
Where are your chains where are your tears why do you look around
If you are thirsty there is the river go bathe your parched limbs
The good of all the Land is before you for Mystery is no more"
(Erdman 402-3; FZ Night 9)
The whole thing: America, the 4Z's and many other poems has as its
theme deliverance; it's central to Blake's myth: Fall, Creation, Generation
Regeneration, Salvation, Eternity. The American Revolution was a symbol
of all that, as also the French Revolution, although in the case of France
it was a false deliverance:
"He crushed the Tyrant in the head
And became a tyrant in his stead."
(Erdman 490; The Grey Monk)
But in America Blake focused on the positive side, the deliverance of the
people from their oppressors.
About the Image
A better image appears in Blake Archives.
A similar image appears in MHH 21.
The young man is an emblem of the "burst grave, redemption from slave labor.
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in the bright air" (Erdman 144 of The
Illuminated Blake) "the skull represents his dead self.
At the bottom is a blooming thistle ("a symbol of oppression") while under it is
a red salamander. See Gen 3-17-18) The thistle is also a symbol of fallenness.