William Blake. The Song of Los, 1795.

Relief etching with watercolor, approximately 9 x 7 inches. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

This illustration from The Song of Los is sometimes entitled A King and Queen on a Lily and it is accompanied by these lines from the poem: "I will sing you a song of Los, the Eternal Prophet: / He sung it to four harps at the table of Eternity" (Book III, lines 1-2). The four harps are the four continents: Africa, Asia, Europe and America. "These early prophecies," according to Milton Klonsky, "traced the spiritual history of mankind, from slavery in Africa under the laws of Urizen to the revolutionary outbursts in Europe and America during Blake's lifetime" (39).

The association with Shakespeare comes from an earlier picture (c.1790-93), almost the same as this one but with the image reversed, entitled Oberon and Titania on a Lily with its source in A Midsummer Night's Dream.