Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Thursday, June 2, 2011



What is it that so upsets Urizen about Ahania's vision? She relates a series of scenes which have a dream-like quality. Urizen becomes conscious of possibilities which he has avoided facing.

Ahania sees the Eternal Albion is becoming weakened, dreary and faded; Urizen too is losing the splendor of Eternity. A cloud has formed in which visibility is restricted. Luvah dwells in the cloud and hides Los (time) and Enitharmon (space) in shadow. A mental shadow forms around Albion of an idealization which substitutes itself for the original Albion. The original worships the shadowy copy.

Albion has become only the Body of Albion, the Fallen Man. The shadowy Spirit of Fallen Luvah, the Son of Man descends from the cloud.

Ahania recognizes the implication of her vision: that death ensues when the brotherhood is destroyed by an attempt to gain dominion.

Image from Blake's Illustrations
Milton's Paradise Lost
'Michael Foretells the Crucifixion'
Linnell Set, 1822

Eternal Albion strives with Fallen Luvah over the Body of Albion which enclosed Vala - the potential for an externalized, materialized world. The battle ends as Luvah is expelled from the Fallen Man to form with Vala the external world: material, sexual and mortal.

Four Zoas, Night III
, Page 39, (E 327)
"The Darkning Man walkd on the steps of fire before his halls
And Vala walkd with him in dreams of soft deluding slumber
He looked up & saw thee Prince of Light thy splendor faded
But saw not Los nor Enitharmon for Luvah hid them in shadow

In a soft cloud Outstretch'd across, & Luvah dwelt in the cloud
Then Man ascended mourning into the splendors of his palace
Above him rose a Shadow from his wearied intellect
Of living gold, pure, perfect, holy; in white linen pure he hover'd
A sweet entrancing self delusion, a watry vision of Man
Soft exulting in existence all the Man absorbing

Man fell upon his face prostrate before the watry shadow
Saying O Lord whence is this change thou knowest I am nothing
And Vala trembled & coverd her face, & her locks. were spread on the pavement

I heard astonishd at the Vision & my heart trembled within me
I heard the voice of the Slumberous Man & thus he spoke
Idolatrous to his own Shadow words of Eternity uttering

O I am nothing when I enter into judgment with thee
If thou withdraw thy breath I die & vanish into Hades
If thou dost lay thine hand upon me behold I am silent
If thou withhold thine hand I perish like a fallen leaf
O I am nothing & to nothing must return again
If thou withdraw thy breath, behold I am oblivion

He ceasd: the shadowy voice was silent; but the cloud hoverd over their heads

In golden wreathes, the sorrow of Man & the balmy drops fell down
And Lo that Son of Man, that shadowy Spirit of the Fallen One
Luvah, descended from the cloud
; In terror Albion rose-
Indignant rose the Awful Man & turnd his back on Vala

Why roll thy clouds in sick'ning mists. I can no longer hide
The dismal vision of mine Eyes, O love & life & light!
Prophetic dreads urge me to speak. futurity is before me
Like a dark lamp. Eternal death haunts all my expectation
Rent from Eternal Brotherhood we die & are no more

I heard the Voice of Albion starting from his sleep

"Whence is this voice crying Enion that soundeth in my ears
O cruel pity! O dark deceit! can Love seek for dominion

And Luvah strove to gain dominion over the mighty Albion
They strove together above the Body where Vala was inclos'd

And the dark Body of Albion left prostrate upon the crystal pavement
Coverd with boils from head to foot. the terrible smitings of Luvah

Then frownd the Fallen Man & put forth Luvah from his presence
(I heard him: frown not Urizen: but listen to my Vision)
Saying, Go & die the Death of Man for Vala the sweet wanderer
I will turn the volutions of your Ears outward; & bend your Nostrils
Downward; & your fluxile Eyes englob'd, roll round in fear
Your withring Lips & Tongue shrink up into a narrow circle
Till into narrow forms you creep. Go take your fiery way
And learn what 'tis to absorb the Man you Spirits of Pity & Love"

Urizen is unable to tolerate the idea that Luvah is to be incarnate in humanity. Urizen rejects the vision of Ahania, preferring to attempt the lonely task of creating his own world.

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