Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
Selections from ‘The Four Zoas’
[Urizen’s Words of Wisdom]
(Four Zoas, Night VII, Revised Version, ll. 109–29.)

AND Urizen read in his Book of Brass in sounding tones:—
‘Listen, O Daughters, to my voice! listen to the words of wisdom!
Compel the Poor to live upon a crust of bread by soft mild arts:
So shall [you] 1 govern over all. Let Moral Duty tune your tongue,
But be your hearts harder than the nether millstone;        5
To bring the Shadow of Enitharmon beneath our wondrous Tree,
That Los may evaporate like smoke, and be no more.
Draw down Enitharmon to the Spectre of Urthona,
And let him have dominion over Los, the terrible Shade.
Smile when they frown, frown when they smile; and when a man looks pale        10
With labour and abstinence, say he looks healthy and happy;
And when his children sicken, let them die: there are enough
Born, even too many, and our earth will soon be overrun
Without these arts. If you would make the Poor live with temper,
With pomp give every crust of bread you give; with gracious cunning        15
Magnify small gifts; reduce the man to want a gift, and then give with pomp.
Say he smiles, if you hear him sigh; if pale, say he is ruddy.
Preach temperance: say he is overgorg’d, and drowns his wit
In strong drink, tho’ you know that bread and water are all
He can afford. Flatter his wife, pity his children, till we can        20
Reduce all to our will, as spaniels are taught with art.’
Note 1. 4–9 These lines are additions. In l. 4 ‘you’ is miswritten ‘be’ in the MS. [back]

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