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

Saturday, January 17, 2015


British Museum
Small Book of Designs
As Urizen functions as the setter of limits, the promulgator of laws to regulate behavior, Orc is symbolic of the energy which Urizen seeks to control. In one account of the Fall, Urizen and Luvah plot together and then turn against each other in distrust. Both become reduced as their eternal qualities are diminished when they enter the physical world. Luvah's name in the world of generation is Orc. His is the energy striving to be released without thought of restraint. Blake's Orc is a character who will be admired or feared, sought or despised, welcomed or rejected.  His fiery unpredictability makes him the perfect foil for Urizen's cold rationality.

America, Plate 7, (E 54)    
"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.
That pale religious letchery, seeking Virginity,                 
May find it in a harlot, and in coarse-clad honesty
The undefil'd tho' ravish'd in her cradle night and morn:
For every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd.
Fires inwrap the earthly globe, yet man is not consumd;      
Amidst the lustful fires he walks: his feet become like brass,
His knees and thighs like silver, & his breast and head like gold."

John Middleton Murry, on Page 92 of William Blake, reveals the essential function of Orc:
"In the final lines of America we are brought back to the event of which the whole prophecy is symbolic: the consuming of the whole Creation by the cleansing of the doors of perception, so that instead of finite and corrupt, it appears infinite and holy. For the five gates  of the law-built heaven, which the Guardians seek to bar, are the five senses. These gates are consumed, as the doors of perception are cleansed: the consuming and the cleansing are the same act. This is accomplished, in Blake's revolutionary legend, by the flames of Orc- by those 'corroding fires' with which the mighty Devil wrote on the sides of the abyss of the five senses the words of liberation:    

"How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
   Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?""
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5

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