America - a Prophecy

America, A Prophecy, Plate 6, 1793-94

A Quote from "Romanticism" by Aidan Day:

"In the years following the French Revolution William Blake's poetic expression of his radical sympathies grew even more pronounced. In America (1793-94) he retrospectively celebrated the American Revolution as a triumph of life and liberty over the death-dealing oppression of British rule.


The success of the Americans in throwing off the binding chain is acclaimed in its own right in this poem. But the War of Independence is also taken as a type of what Blake envisaged as a universal energy of revolution which would sweep away all tyrannies. The spirit of this revolutionary energy is characterized as Orc who, early in America, uses a biblical language of resurrection and renewal as he imagines the dawn of a new world of freedom

    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.