Index Bibliography

The Song of Los

Currently Available:

The Song of Los, copy A, 1795 (British Museum): electronic edition
The Song of Los, copy B, 1795 (Library of Congress): electronic edition
The Song of Los, copy C, 1795 (Morgan Library and Museum): electronic edition
The Song of Los, copy D, 1795 (British Museum): electronic edition
The Song of Los, copy E, 1795 (Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery): electronic edition
The Song of Los, copy F, 1795 (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich): electronic edition

Dates are the probable dates of printing.

The eight plates of The Song of Los were produced in 1795; all extant copies (A-F) were color printed in that year in a single pressrun. Divided into sections entitled "Africa" and "Asia," The Song of Los is the last of Blake's "Continental Prophecies" (see also America [1793] and Europe [1794]). Blake abandons direct references to contemporary events to pursue the junctures among biblical narrative, the origins of law and religion, and his own developing mythology. Adam, Noah, Socrates, Brama, Los, Urizen and many others represent both historical periods and states of consciousness. The loose narrative structure reaches towards a vision of universal history ending with apocalyptic resurrection.

Plates 1, 2, 5, and 8 (the frontispiece, title page, and two full-page designs) are color-printed drawings, executed and printed in the planographic manner of—and probably concurrent with—most of the twelve Large Color Printed Drawings of 1795, also in the Archive. Plates 3 and 4, which make up "Africa," and plates 6 and 7, which make up "Asia," were executed first, side by side on two oblong pieces of copper (plates 3/4, 6/7). Initially executed in this landscape format, the two columns of text of each section were transformed into two single-column vertical pages by printing the oblong plates with one side masked. In copies C and E, plates 5 and 8 are differently arranged: 8 follows plate 1 and 5 is placed at the end in copy C; 8 follows plate 3 and 5 follows plate 6 in copy E. Both variant orders might be authorial, particularly the plate sequence of copy E.

Related Works

Related works currently available in the William Blake Archive appear as links below. Works not currently available appear as plain text.

All Known Copies
  • Copy A, 1795
    British Museum, Dept. of Prints and Drawings
  • Copy B, 1795
    Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress
    Washington D.C.
  • Copy D, 1795
    British Museum, Dept. of Prints and Drawings
  • Copy E, 1795
    Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    San Marino, California

All Known Related Drawings
  • Blake's Notebook, page 5(13): Robert Blake: Oberon and Titania Reclining on a Poppy
    Monochrome wash drawing, c. 1786-87. Butlin 201.5(13).
    British Library
  • Oberon and Titania on a Lily
    Water color, c. 1790-93. Butlin 245.
    Maurice Sendak
  • Sketch for the Title-Page of "The Song of Los"
    Pencil sketch, c. 1795. Butlin 232 verso.
    Collection of Robert N. Essick
    Altadena, California