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

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


British Museum
Book of Urizen
Copy D, Plate 24
 Northrop Frye on Milton and Blake , Edited by Angela Esterhammer contains a chapter Notes for a Commentary on Milton. Frye sees a structure of symbolism in Blake's Milton as based on the four levels of vision known as Fourfold Vision and consisting of Eden, Beulah, Generation and Ulro. In each of the levels Frye finds seven metaphors which delineate characteristics: the divine world, the spiritual world, the human world, the animal world, the vegetable world, the mineral world, and the chaotic world. As an example of Frye's analysis he sees the vegetable world at the level of Generation developed by Blake in the symbol of the garden; not the garden as in Eden but an unrealised promise in which man is separated from the Divine Image:

"The Garden of the ordinary world is symbolized by Blake as 'Canaan,' i.e., the land possessed by a people who have given up the real Promised Land and settled down under the Mosaic law and the Levitical priesthood. Canaan of course includes eighteenth-century Europe, its counterpart in the next cycle...We are told that the Israelites were frightened away from the Promised Land by 'giants' or 'ghosts' ('Rephaim,' M 31.57), and hence in Canaan would still have been under the domain of the same giants ... Of these giants who in the aggregate make up the Covering Cherub, the most important are Og, Sihon, and Anak. They are politically the tyrants of Canaan, such as William Pitt and Napoleon, intellectually the ideas derived from a world under the stars (M 41.50), and psychologically the moral censors who keep us from using our imaginations (M 22.35)." (Page 255)

Here are the passages in Milton which Frye cites:

Milton, PLATE 29 [31], (E 128)
"The Three Heavens of Ulro, where Tirzah & her Sisters
Weave the black Woof of Death upon Entuthon Benython
In the Vale of Surrey where Horeb terminates in Rephaim"

Milton, PLATE 37 [41], (E 138)
"For the Chaotic Voids outside of the Stars are measured by
The Stars, which are the boundaries of Kingdoms, Provinces
And Empires of Chaos invisible to the Vegetable Man
The Kingdom of Og. is in Orion: Sihon is in Ophiucus
Og has Twenty-seven Districts; Sihons Districts Twenty-one
From Star to Star, Mountains & Valleys, terrible dimension
Stretchd out, compose the Mundane Shell, a mighty Incrustation
Of Forty-eight deformed Human Wonders of the Almighty"

Milton, PLATE 20 [22], (E 114)
"Hence thou art cloth'd with human beauty O thou mortal man.
Seek not thy heavenly father then beyond the skies:
There Chaos dwells & ancient Night & Og & Anak old:
For every human heart has gates of brass & bars of adamant,
Which few dare unbar because dread Og & Anak guard the gates
Terrific! and each mortal brain is walld and moated round
Within: and Og & Anak watch here; here is the Seat
Of Satan in its Webs; for in brain and heart and loins
Gates open behind Satans Seat to the City of Golgonooza
Which is the spiritual fourfold London, in the loins of Albion"

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