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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 16

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 16, (E 309)
"They melt the bones of Vala, & the bones of Luvah into wedges
The innumerable sons & daughters of Luvah closd in furnaces
Melt into furrows. winter blows his bellows: ice & Snow
Tend the dire anvils. Mountains mourn & Rivers faint & fail

There is no City nor Corn-field nor Orchard! all is Rock & Sand  
There is no Sun nor Moon nor Star. but rugged wintry rocks
Justling together in the void suspended by inward fires
Impatience now no longer can endure. Distracted Luvah

Bursting forth from the loins of Enitharmon, Thou fierce Terror
Go howl in vain, Smite Smite his fetters Smite O wintry hammers  
Smite Spectre of Urthona, mock the fiend who drew us down
From heavens of joy into this Deep. Now rage but rage in vain

Thus Sang the Demons of the Deep. the Clarions of War blew loud
The Feast redounds & Crownd with roses & the circling vine
The Enormous Bride & Bridegroom sat, beside them Urizen          
With faded radiance sighd, forgetful of the flowing wine
And of Ahania his Pure Bride but She was distant far

But Los & Enitharmon sat in discontent & scorn
Craving the more the more enjoying, drawing out sweet bliss
From all the turning wheels of heaven & the chariots of the Slain

At distance Far in Night repelld. in direful hunger craving
Summers & Winters round revolving in the frightful deep." 

The demons of the deep inhabit a scene of chaos. Los and Enitharmon, still their giant rather than earthly forms, observe the melting away, justling together, the smiting, and the rage; not with disgust, but with pleasure. Blake for a second time mentions the 'discontent & scorn' of Los and Enitharmon. Perhaps he is intimating that these are the two characteristics which create the chaotic conditions in the void.

Harold Bloom points out that Orc is the fierce Terror who bursts forth from the loins of Enitharmon. Another portent of the coming disintegration is the appearance of the Spectre of Urthona.

Milton Percival on Page 104 of William Blake's Circle of Destiny made a statement which can be applied to this page of the Four Zoas. This passage from Percival seems apropos for understanding the threat that the appearance of Urthona in sprectral form would pose. Percival links the transition period when there is a possibility either to rise or fall, with the characteristics of the Spectre whose doubt freezes him in the error which is leading to destruction. The suggestion is that Los and Enitharmon could still have stopped the fall by refusing to take pleasure in the suffering around them.

Percival: "When, however, the mind sinks into doubt, which is a disintegrating force, it falls (unless it is saved in Beulah) into the chaos and darkness and death of Ulro. In this state the Spectre has no body. By this Blake means not what we think of as a disembodied spirit but a creature of doubt and negation, impotent to emanate any emotional fabric wherein its troubled spirit may find rest. In the history of the race periods of this kind come between two ages, one dead the other powerless to be born. Lacking any positive faith or satisfying body of belief, the Spectre is little more than a thirst for 'existence,' an insatiable mental hunger. If man were dependent on his rational mind alone, he would have been lost forever when he first descended into Ulro; but he has an element of the imagination (Los) which cannot be utterly extinguished, and this comes to the rescue. Laboriously and imperfectly Los creates a succession of creeds and codes and beliefs wherein the disembodied Spectre can find temporary respite from his dark void of doubt and despair."

Blake may have intended for his image at the bottom of the page to show Enion holding her two infants as they observed the disintegration occurring in the void. At the center are two disconnected feet in the process of walking. 

Five times Blake mentions the feast which proved to be a pivotal moment in the Fall:  
(E 307)
"The Earth spread forth her table wide. the Night a silver cup
Fill'd with the wine of anguish waited at the golden feast
But the bright Sun was not as yet"

(E 308)
"And wintry woes succeed; successive driven into the Void
Where Enion craves: successive drawn into the golden feast

And Los & Enitharmon sat in discontent & scorn"   

(E 308)
"And Spirits of Flaming fire on high, govern'd the mighty Song.   

And This the Song! sung at The Feast of Los & Enitharmon"

(E 310)
"This was the Lamentation of Enion round the golden Feast
Eternity groand and was troubled at the image of Eternal Death"

(E 313)
"Urizen rose from the bright Feast like a star thro' the evening sky
Exulting at the voice that calld him from the Feast of envy" 

No comments:

Post a Comment