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Young's Night Thoughts
Designed and Engraved by Blake
African slaves were not unknown in Blake's London although the were not common. There plight and that suffered by free blacks was visible enough that Blake used slaves as a principle metaphor for the transition of life from the Earthly to the Heavenly plane as he was bringing the Four Zoas to a conclusion. Although the Black African was rarely pictured in the visual images, the condition of slavery was often pictured and described.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 134, (E 402) "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 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 bonds & task masters are these the prisoners 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 Then All the Slaves from every Earth in the wide Universe Sing a New Song drowning confusion in its happy notes While the flail of Urizen sounded loud & the winnowing wind of Tharmas So loud so clear in the wide heavens & the song that they sung was this Composed by an African Black from the little Earth of Sotha Aha Aha how came I here so soon in my sweet native land How came I here Methinks I am as I was in my youth PAGE 135 When in my fathers house I sat & heard his chearing voice Methinks I see his flocks & herds & feel my limbs renewd And Lo my Brethren in their tents & their little ones around them The song arose to the Golden feast the Eternal Man rejoicd"