Page:Life of William Blake, Gilchrist.djvu/305

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ÆT. 47.]
243
THE MILTON.

mazes of these labyrinthine, spectre-haunted books, is commended,—'is a vision of nature, a prophecy of the gathering of the harvest of Time, and treading the winepress of war; in which harvest and vintage-work all living things have 'their share for good or evil':—

How red the sons and daughters of Luvah! here they tread the grapes
Laughing and shouting, drunk with odours; many fall o'er wearied;
Drowned in the wine is many a youth and maiden; those around
Lay them on skins of tigers, of the spotted leopard and the wild ass.
Till they revive, or bury them in cool grots, making lamentation.
This Winepress is called War on Earth; it is the printing-press
Of Los; there he lays his words in order above the mortal brain
As cogs are formed in a wheel to turn the cogs of the adverse wheel.

All kinds of insects, of roots and seed and creeping things—all the armies of disease visible or invisible are there:—

The slow slug; the grasshopper that sings and laughs and drinks
(Winter comes, he folds his slender bones without a murmur).

Wasp and hornet, toad and newt, spider and snake,—

They throw off their gorgeous raiment; they rejoice with loud jubilee
Around the winepresses of Luvah naked and drunk with wine.
There is the nettle that stings with soft down; and there
The indignant thistle whose bitterness is bred in his milk,
Who feeds on contempt of his neighbour; there all the idle weeds
That creep around the obscure places show their various limbs
Naked in all their beauty, dancing round the whiepresses.
But in the winepresses the human grapes sing not nor dance,
They howl and writhe in shoals of torment, in fierce flames consuming;

Tortured for the cruel joy and deadly sport of Luvah's sons and daughters;

They dance around the dying and they drink the howl and groan,
They catch the shrieks in cups of gold, they hand them one to another.