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

Monday, September 8, 2014


Yale Center for British Art
Plate 10, Copy M
Blake lived in what some call The Age of Reason. He is said to be one of the first Romantics who ushered in a new age which demonstrated that reason, without emotions and longings is insufficient to satisfy the whole man. In his poetry Blake made reason, in the form of his Zoa Urizen, one of the major sources of the failures of society to provide for its constituents. The Age of Reason had destroyed patterns of religion, government and economics. Although intending to free man from bondage, reason's efforts had brought about forms of enslavement. Man was set on the path of materialism and reductionism when he became dependent primarily on reason. He was reduced to a being without faith, stability, security or liberty.
Blake's thesis was that reason had been elevated to a place of dominance over the other aspects of man's psyche. Reason then built a world where men were valued as instruments of production not compassion, where children were not nurtured or protected from exploitation, and where women were forced into defensiveness. The observation that reason imposed one view onto all, without variation or exception, caused Blake to react against the position he saw reason carving out for itself.
Quoting from an earlier post:
"Urizen wanders about the world spinning the web of religion, carving the laws of God and unable any longer to see into the closed tents of the Eternals. Urizen, the Superego, has created a dilemma; he can say 'Thou shalt not,' but he can't say 'Thou shalt.' (“Without a vision the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18.) Urizen is at an impasse from which he cannot extricate himself. The divided self, without the Spirit or Imagination lacks the ability to live the life of joy, peace, forgiveness and brotherhood."

America, Plate 7, (E 53)
"Lover of wild rebellion, and transgresser of Gods Law;
Why dost thou come to Angels eyes in this terrific form?
Plate 8
The terror answerd: I am Orc, wreath'd round the accursed tree:
The times are ended; shadows pass the morning gins to break;
The fiery joy, that Urizen perverted to ten commands,
What night he led the starry hosts thro' the wide wilderness:
That stony law I stamp to dust: and scatter religion abroad      
To the four winds as a torn book, & none shall gather the leaves;
But they shall rot on desart sands, & consume in bottomless deeps;
To make the desarts blossom, & the deeps shrink to their fountains,
And to renew the fiery joy, and burst the stony roof."

Song of Los, (E 68)
"Thus the terrible race of Los & Enitharmon gave
Laws & Religions to the sons of Har binding them more
And more to Earth: closing and restraining:                      
Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete
Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke"    

Book of Urizen, Plate 4, (E 72)
"6. Here alone I in books formd of metals
Have written the secrets of wisdom                            
The secrets of dark contemplation
By fightings and conflicts dire,
With terrible monsters Sin-bred:
Which the bosoms of all inhabit;
Seven deadly Sins of the soul. 

7. Lo! I unfold my darkness: and on
This rock, place with strong hand the Book
Of eternal brass, written in my solitude.

8. Laws of peace, of love, of unity:
Of pity, compassion, forgiveness.          
Let each chuse one habitation:
His ancient infinite mansion:
One command, one joy, one desire,
One curse, one weight, one measure
One King, one God, one Law."

Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 80, (E 355)
"And Urizen Read in his book of brass in sounding tones   

Listen O Daughters to my voice Listen to the Words of Wisdom
So shall [ye] govern over all let Moral Duty tune your tongue
But be your hearts harder than the nether millstone
To bring the shadow of Enitharmon beneath our wondrous tree   
That Los may Evaporate like smoke & be no more
Draw down Enitharmon to the Spectre of Urthona
And let him have dominion over Los the terrible shade

Compell the poor to live upon a Crust of bread by soft mild arts
Smile when they frown frown when they smile & when a man looks pale
With labour & abstinence say he looks healthy & happy
And when his children Sicken let them die there are enough
Born even too many & our Earth will be overrun
Without these arts If you would make the poor live with temper
With pomp give every crust of bread you give with gracious cunning 
Magnify small gifts reduce the man to want a gift & then give with pomp 
Say he smiles if you hear him sigh If pale say he is ruddy
Preach temperance   say he is overgorgd & drowns his wit
In strong drink tho you know that bread & water are all
He can afford   Flatter his wife pity his children till we can   

Reduce all to our will as spaniels are taught with art"

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