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

Monday, November 18, 2013


British Museum For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise
Plate 3

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Plate 4, (E 261
"4 Air On Cloudy Doubts & Reasoning Cares" 

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Plate 19, (E 268) 
Keys "4 Naked in Air in Shame & Fear"


Blake's picture of the Element Air is consistent with the caption he provides: "Cloudy Doubts & Reasoning Cares." The man is seated on clouds and surrounded by clouds. However his feet are hidden by the clouds. His troubled expression indicates his doubts and cares. His preoccupation with thought is seen in the position of his hands supporting his head. Blake adds the stars as the symbol of the orderly universe which reason desires.  

Blake feared dependence predominately on reasoning to the exclusion of the use of the imagination, the emotions and the senses in organizing the psyche. His Key to this image, "Naked in Air in Shame & Fear," indicates the precarious position of reason without the other functions. Reason would be left alone, afraid and aware of guilt.   

In Blake's mythology the character we see as the element Air becomes man's reason and is called Urizen. One of the ways Blake had of describing the fallen state of man was in terms of Urizen's desire to dominate and control the other three Zoas.  

Four Zoas, Night VI, Plate 73, (E 350)
"Here will I [Urizen] fix my foot & here rebuild
Here Mountains of Brass promise much riches in their dreadful bosoms

So he began to dig form[ing] of gold silver & iron    
And brass vast instruments to measure out the immense & fix
The whole into another world better suited to obey
His will where none should dare oppose his will himself being King
Of All & all futurity be bound in his vast chain"        

Jerusalem, Plate 74, (E 229)
"The Four Zoa's clouded rage; Urizen stood by Albion
With Rintrah and Palamabron and Theotormon and Bromion
These Four are Verulam & London & York & Edinburgh
And the Four Zoa's are Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona
In opposition deadly, and their Wheels in poisonous              
And deadly stupor turn'd against each other loud & fierce
Entering into the Reasoning Power, forsaking Imagination
They became Spectres; & their Human Bodies were reposed
In Beulah, by the Daughters of Beulah with tears & lamentations

The Spectre is the Reasoning Power in Man; & when separated      
From Imagination, and closing itself as in steel, in a Ratio
Of the Things of Memory. It thence frames Laws & Moralities
To destroy Imagination! the Divine Body, by Martyrdoms & Wars" 

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