O for a voice like thunder and a tongue
To drown the throat of war! - When the senses
Are shaken, and the soul is driven to madness,
Who can stand! When the souls of the oppressed
Fight in the troubled air that rages, who can stand?...
When sin claps his broad wings over the battle,
And sails rejoicing in the flood of Death;
When souls are torn to ever lasting fire,
And fiends of hell rejoice upon the slain,
O who can stand? O who hath caused this?
O who can answer at the throne of God?
The Kings and Nobles of the Land have done it!
Hear it not, Heaven, thy MInisters have done it!
- from "Poetical Sketches" (1783), by William Blake
Submitted by Dave Johnson:
Poetical Sketches was published five years before his first illuminated poem and six years before his most popular work (Songs of Innocence). I love Blake because of the prophetic imagination that gave life to his populist anti-institutionalism.