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

Monday, August 8, 2011


Blake names the Four Elements in the Book of Urizen but they are later personified as the Four Zoas with more familiar names:
Thiriel - Air - Urizen
Utha - Water - Tharmas
Gorda - Earth - Urthona
Fuzon - Fire - Luvah

Book of Urizen, Plate 24
Morgan Library

Book of Urizen, Plate 23, (E 81)
"3. Most Urizen sicken'd to see
His eternal creations appear
Sons & daughters of sorrow on mountains
Weeping! wailing! first Thiriel appear'd
Astonish'd at his own existence
Like a man from a cloud born, & Utha
From the waters emerging, laments!
Grodna rent the deep earth howling
Amaz'd! his heavens immense cracks
Like the ground parch'd with heat; then Fuzon
Flam'd out! first begotten, last born.
All his eternal sons in like manner
His daughters from green herbs & cattle
From monsters, & worms of the pit."

Damon in A Blake Dictionary writes that:
"Thus the Four Elements are the inexorable forces of matter in the unending strife of Nature...
Men in their power must 'War on, slaves to the eternal Elements' (SoL 3:14). Yet it is also stated that Los can renew the 'ruin'd souls of Men thro 'Earth, Sea, Air & Fire (FZ iv:30). For the Elements, when servants, have their valuable functions." (Page 117)

Percival in William Blake's Circle of Destiny tells us:
"It is because Blake conceives of the Zoas both as rebellious forces precipitating the fall and as the chief agencies for deliverance, that he supplements the human symbolism of head, heart, and loins by a natural symbolism of earth, air, fire and water. He identifies the Zoas, in their failure to cooperate in the well being of man, with the four elements to which man is subject. With the separation of the elements from Albion, he ceases to be their master and becomes their prey. The appearance of the four elements with the fall is traditional. In the beginning there was 'one only element'; it fell into division of four. So writes Jacob Boehme and with abundant authority. 'And that is the heavy fall of Adam,' and he says further, 'that his eyes and spirit entered into the outward, into the four elements, into the palpability, viz., into death, and there they are blind to the kingdom of God.' A prey to the elements which beset him - his own powers in a state of contention - Albion is, like Adam blind to the kingdom of God." (Page 19)

Milton, PLATE 28 [30], (E 126)
"And all the Living Creatures of the Four Elements, wail'd

With bitter wailing: these in the aggregate are named Satan
And Rahab: they know not of Regeneration, but only of Generation
The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife
In Los's Halls continual labouring in the Furnaces of Golgonooza
Orc howls on the Atlantic: Enitharmon trembles: All Beulah weeps

Jerusalem trembled seeing her Children drivn by Los's Hammer
In the visions of the dreams of Beulah on the edge of Non-Entity
Hand stood between Reuben & Merlin, as the Reasoning Spectre
Stands between the Vegetative Man & his Immortal Imagination"

Jerusalem, PLATE 32 [36], (E 178)
"And the Four Zoa's clouded rage East & West & North & South
They change their situations, in the Universal Man.
Albion groans, he sees the Elements divide before his face.
And England who is Brittannia divided into Jerusalem & Vala
And Urizen assumes the East, Luvah assumes the South
In his dark Spectre ravening from his open Sepulcher

And the Four Zoa's who are the Four Eternal Senses of Man
Became Four Elements separating from the Limbs of Albion
These are their names in the Vegetative Generation
[West Weighing East & North dividing Generation South
And Accident & Chance were found hidden in Length Bredth & Highth
And they divided into Four ravening deathlike Forms
Fairies & Genii & Nymphs & Gnomes of the Elements.
These are States Permanently Fixed by the Divine Power"

The Elements are the externalized powers which within the psyche are represented as the Zoas.

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