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

Saturday, August 29, 2015


The resource of the Four Zoas manuscript which is made available in the British Library is invaluable. The library has published online the manuscript of William Blake's Four Zoas. Although the text of the Four Zoas has been available through several sources including Erdman's The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, it had been difficult to locate more than a few images before the British Library created their website. Clearly stated on the website is that this material in the public domain, making it available for study and enjoyment for all who wish to use it.

This is the manuscript on which Blake began to work in 1795 judging from the date on the title page. The reader can view the labor which Blake put into composing, revising and correcting his work as he tried to keep up with his own creative impulses which led him farther and farther from his original intent. Although he could never complete this piece of work, he could never discard it either. Near the end of his life he put the manuscript into the hands of John Linnell, his great friend and supporter in his later years.

Learn more from Erdman's Textural Notes on the Four Zoas (E 817).

A British Library Note:
Blake abandoned Vala, and resumed it as The Four Zoas after a period of depression. While the early parts deal with intellectual judgement and spiritual despair, the later stages of the poem hold out more hope. The work was abandoned in its manuscript form by 1807, and only rediscovered and published by the poet William Yeats and writer Edwin Ellis in 1893. - See more at:
Blake abandoned Vala, and resumed it as The Four Zoas after a period of depression. While the early parts deal with intellectual judgement and spiritual despair, the later stages of the poem hold out more hope. The work was abandoned in its manuscript form by 1807, and only rediscovered and published by the poet William Yeats and writer Edwin Ellis in 1893. - See more at:
Blake abandoned Vala, and resumed it as The Four Zoas after a period of depression. While the early parts deal with intellectual judgement and spiritual despair, the later stages of the poem hold out more hope. The work was abandoned in its manuscript form by 1807, and only rediscovered and published by the poet William Yeats and writer Edwin Ellis in 1893. - See more at:
"Blake abandoned Vala, and resumed it as The Four Zoas after a period of depression. While the early parts deal with intellectual judgement and spiritual despair, the later stages of the poem hold out more hope. The work was abandoned in its manuscript form by 1807, and only rediscovered and published by the poet William Yeats and writer Edwin Ellis in 1893." 

Although you can view 72 images from the Four Zoas, there is no additional text available on this site. The page numbers which are used for identification in Erdman's The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake do not appear with the pictures. The total number of pages in Blake's manuscript is 133 so what is provided is not complete. Part of the material not included is Night I (pages 1-22). I have not found it easy to navigate this website but the effort is productive.

To read Blake's writing you probably need to enlarge the image: right click on image, select view image, enlarge by clicking on picture. Unfortunately you lose your place in manuscript when you look at enlargements.
National Gallery Victoria
Edward Young's Night Thoughts
Night the Fourth Title Page, Page 71

The study of the Four Zoas which I began on May 5 with the post God & Man is far from complete because I covered less than 50 of Blake's 133 pages. I add another manuscript image today and text to enhance it. This full page image is placed following Page 113. The picture is one of those reused from Edward Young's Night Thoughts. Blake created this engraving for the title page of Night the Fourth, giving it the title The Christian Triumph. We are spectators as Jesus puts 'off the dark Satanic body' by parting 'the clothing of blood' from the 'integuments woven' - the spiritual body fit for Eternity.

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 104, (E 378) 
"He stood in fair Jerusalem to awake up into Eden
The fallen Man but first to Give his vegetated body  
To be cut off & separated that the Spiritual body 
may be Reveald"
British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 114

Four Zoas, Night VIII, PAGE 104 (FIRST PORTION), (E 376) 
"And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusalem the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire

Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said 
Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God
Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body
Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal
Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us
Is aught but death In individual weakness sorrow & pain  

We behold with wonder Enitharmons Looms & Los's Forges   
And the Spindles of Tirzah & Rahab and the Mills of Satan & Beelzeboul
In Golgonooza Los's anvils stand & his Furnaces rage 
Ten thousand demons labour at the forges Creating Continually
The times & spaces of Mortal Life the Sun the Moon the Stars 
In periods of Pulsative furor beating into wedges & bars
Then drawing into wires the terrific Passions & Affections
Of Spectrous dead. Thence to the Looms of Cathedron conveyd
The Daughters of Enitharmon weave the ovarium & the integument
In soft silk drawn from their own bowels in lascivious delight 
With songs of sweetest cadence to the turning spindle & reel
Lulling the weeping spectres of the dead. Clothing their limbs
With gifts & gold of Eden. Astonishd stupefied with delight
The terrors put on their sweet clothing on the banks of Arnon 
Whence they plunge into the river of space for a period till 
The dread Sleep of Ulro is past. But Satan Og & Sihon    
Build Mills of resistless wheels to unwind the soft threads & reveal
Naked of their clothing the poor spectres before the accusing heavens
While Rahab & Tirzah far different mantles prepare webs of torture
Mantles of despair girdles of bitter compunction shoes of indolence
Veils of ignorance covering from head to feet with a cold web

We look down into Ulro we behold the Wonders of the Grave
Eastward of Golgonooza stands the Lake of Udan Adan In
Entuthon Benithon a Lake not of Waters but of Spaces  
Perturbd black & deadly on its Islands & its Margins 
The Mills of Satan and Beelzeboul stand round the roots of Urizens tree
For this Lake is formd from the tears & sighs & death sweat of the Victims
Of Urizens laws. to irrigate the roots of the tree of Mystery
They unweave the soft threads then they weave them anew in the forms
Of dark death & despair & none from Eternity to Eternity could Escape
But thou O Universal Humanity who is One Man blessed for Ever
Recievest the Integuments woven Rahab beholds the Lamb of God
She smites with her knife of flint She destroys her own work
Times upon times thinking to destroy the Lamb blessed for Ever
He puts off the clothing of blood he redeems the spectres from their bonds
He awakes the sleepers in Ulro the Daughters of Beulah praise him
They anoint his feet with ointment they wipe them with the hair of their head"

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Milton O Percival, on Page 33 of William Blake's Circle of Destiny, makes this statement about Vala who assumes many identities in the Four Zoas: 
"At the outset of her career and in her true nature Vala represents the gentle feminine emotions. As such she is the ideal which possessed Urizen when, in the early prophetic books, he came back from his 'dark contemplation' bearing his laws of mercy, pity, peace - the ideal which in the Four Zoas Luvah left in Albion's brain. As such she is the 'lily of Havilah,' the pure and the good, with which Albion falls in love."

"However it is one thing to arrive at mercy and pity spontaneously and quite another to make these virtues an abstract and rational ideal. Vala, who in her spontaneity was loved for her gentle purity, proves a jealous mistress."

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." 

Since Blake's original conception of the Four Zoas was a tale of Vala, we find her as a motivating force as the poem develops. Blake does not want his reader to focus on a single cause of the disintegration of the unified psyche, but Vala plays a significant role in the breakdown. As a character in the Four Zoas, Vala first appears on Page 10. We learn here of the dislocation of Luvah and Vala from the heart, where emotions properly reside, to the brain where man is expected to do his thinking. The distortion of emotional expression, when it acts as if it were in charge of making rational decisions, produces misunderstandings and disasters.

On page 10 of the Four Zoas Blake associated Vala with the Zoa Luvah whose emanation she is. Here we see the movement from the heart made by Luvah and Vala, as precipitating the well known incident of Luvah seizing Urizen's horses of light while Vala's passivity resided in the brain.

Four Zoas, Night I, PAGE 1O, (E 305) 
"But Enitharmon answerd with a dropping tear & frowning  
Dark as a dewy morning when the crimson light appears   
To make us happy let them weary their immortal powers   
While we draw in their sweet delights while we return them scorn
On scorn to feed our discontent; for if we grateful prove
They will withhold sweet love, whose food is thorns & bitter roots.
We hear the warlike clarions we view the turning spheres 
Yet Thou in indolence reposest holding me in bonds
Hear! I will sing a Song of Death! it is a Song of Vala! 
The Fallen Man takes his repose: Urizen sleeps in the porch
Luvah and Vala woke & flew up from the Human Heart 
Into the Brain; from thence upon the pillow Vala slumber'd.
And Luvah siez'd the Horses of Light, & rose into the Chariot of Day
Sweet laughter siezd me in my sleep! silent & close I laughd 
For in the visions of Vala I walkd with the mighty Fallen One
I heard his voice among the branches, & among sweet flowers." 
The fall of Albion in the version on page 83 is attributed to Albion's succumbing to the attractiveness and loveliness of the exterior, feminine, passive appearance of Vala in Beulah, the territory of Luvah.

British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 83
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 82, (E 358)
"The Shadow of Enitharmon answerd Art thou terrible Shade
Set over this sweet boy of mine to guard him lest he rend
PAGE 83 
His mother to the winds of heaven Intoxicated with
The fruit of this delightful tree. I cannot flee away
From thy embrace else be assurd so horrible a form
Should never in my arms repose. now listen I will tell
Thee Secrets of Eternity which neer before unlockd 
My golden lips nor took the bar from Enitharmons breast
Among the Flowers of Beulah walkd the Eternal Man & Saw
Vala the lilly of the desart. melting in high noon
Upon her bosom in sweet bliss he fainted   Wonder siezd
All heaven they saw him dark. they built a golden wall  
Round Beulah   There he reveld in delight among the Flowers
Vala was pregnant & brought forth Urizen Prince of Light 
First born of Generation. Then behold a wonder to the Eyes
Of the now fallen Man a double form Vala appeard. A Male
And female shuddring pale the Fallen Man recoild    
From the Enormity & calld them Luvah & Vala. turning down
The vales to find his way back into Heaven but found none
For his frail eyes were faded & his ears heavy & dull

Urizen grew up in the plains of Beulah   Many Sons
And many daughters flourishd round the holy Tent of Man     
Till he forgot Eternity delighted in his sweet joy
Among his family his flocks & herds & tents & pastures

But Luvah close conferrd with Urizen in darksom night
To bind the father & enslave the brethren Nought he knew
Of sweet Eternity the blood flowd round the holy tent & rivn   
From its hinges uttering its final groan all Beulah fell"

When Beulah falls the return to Eden is rerouted through Generation where man encounters the obstacles of experience. 


Tuesday, August 25, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript

Four Zoas, Title Page, (E 300) 
                    "THE FOUR ZOAS

          The torments of Love & Jealousy in 
                The Death and Judgement
               of Albion the Ancient Man

                 by William Blake 1797"
It seems that Blake did not originate the idea that he would write about Four Zoas and then develop his poetry around them. He began publishing his illuminated books in 1789 with the Book of Thel and Songs of Innocence. In about 1790 he began Marriage of Heaven and Hell (which he completed 2 years later.) In the books written between 1793 and 1795 there first appear personifications of contending factions within man. We learn of the activities of Urizen and Los, of Enitharmon and Ahania, of Orc and the Shadowy Female but the word Zoas does not appear.

The characters associated with the Zoas appeared in this order:
Urthona - 1792 - Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Enitharmon 1793 - America
Orc - 1793 - America
Los - 1794 - Europe
Shadowy Female - 1794 - Europe
Los and Urizen first appear as contending forces in the Book of Urizen - 1794
Ahania - 1795 - Book of Ahania
Tharmas - after 1797 - Four Zoas

Sometime during the time that Blake was composing Vala he integrated the entities he had created earlier into an organizing system to which he gave the name Zoas. He added a preliminary Night I to Vala around a new character, Tharmas, and renamed his poem the Four Zoas. The revised title page is the first appearance in Blake's poetry of Four Zoas. Outside of the Four Zoas the first reference is in the following passage from Milton.   

Milton, Plate  PLATE 35 [39], (E 135)
"So spake Ololon in reminiscence astonishd, but they
Could not behold Golgonooza without passing the Polypus
A wondrous journey not passable by Immortal feet, & none         
But the Divine Saviour can pass it without annihilation.
For Golgonooza cannot be seen till having passd the Polypus
It is viewed on all sides round by a Four-fold Vision
Or till you become Mortal & Vegetable in Sexuality
Then you behold its mighty Spires & Domes of ivory & gold        

And Ololon examined all the Couches of the Dead.
Even of Los & Enitharmon & all the Sons of Albion
And his Four Zoas terrified & on the verge of Death
In midst of these was Miltons Couch, & when they saw Eight
Immortal Starry-Ones, guarding the Couch in flaming fires        
They thunderous utterd all a universal groan falling down
Prostrate before the Starry Eight asking with tears forgiveness
Confessing their crime with humiliation and sorrow."
There are six references to Zoas in Milton, thirteen in Jerusalem, for a total of twenty mentions of the term in one form or another.

  George Anthony Rosso, Jr. in Blake's Prophetic Workshop comments on the significance of the Four Zoas in the development of Blake's body of work:

"The Four Zoas is also where Blake works out his mature epic vision, expanding his scope from the Lambeth to the epic prophecies. It is where he becomes the most original and daring of Romantic poets, experimenting with the nature and limits of narrative, reaching some dead ends, but exploring regions untrod in literature. It is the imaginative space which Blake seeks to induce what he calls prophetic or expanded vision, challenging readers to engage in intellectual battle, thereby helping to transform a divided world into a community." (Page 11)

Sunday, August 23, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 126
Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 126, (E 395) "And now fierce Orc had quite consumd himself in Mental flames Expending all his energy against the fuel of fire The Regenerate Man stoopd his head over the Universe & in His holy hands recievd the flaming Demon & Demoness of Smoke And gave them to Urizens hands the Immortal frownd Saying Luvah & Vala henceforth you are Servants obey & live You shall forget your former state return O Love in peace Into your place the place of seed not in the brain or heart If Gods combine against Man Setting their Dominion above The Human form Divine. Thrown down from their high Station In the Eternal heavens of Human Imagination: buried beneath In dark Oblivion with incessant pangs ages on ages In Enmity & war first weakend then in stern repentance They must renew their brightness & their disorganizd functions Again reorganize till they resume the image of the human Cooperating in the bliss of Man obeying his Will Servants to the infinite & Eternal of the Human form Luvah & Vala descended & enterd the Gates of Dark Urthona And walkd from the hands of Urizen in the shadows of Valas Garden Where the impressions of Despair & Hope for ever vegetate In flowers in fruits in fishes birds & beasts & clouds & waters The land of doubts & shadows sweet delusions unformd hopes They saw no more the terrible confusion of the wracking universe They heard not saw not felt not all the terrible confusion For in their orbed senses within closd up they wanderd at will And those upon the Couches viewd them in the dreams of Beulah As they reposd from the terrible wide universal harvest Invisible Luvah in bright clouds hoverd over Valas head And thus their ancient golden age renewd for Luvah spoke With voice mild from his golden Cloud upon the breath of morning Come forth O Vala from the grass & from the silent Dew Rise from the dews of death for the Eternal Man is Risen"

This page concerning the restoration of Luvah and Vala was not included in Blake's Poetry and Designs which selected a limited number of passages from each of the  Nine Nights. I have followed their selection which included Night I in its entirety and a few pages from the other eight Nights. Frye, however, calls attention to Page 126 as including Blake's own description of his intended thesis.
Northrop Frye, Fearful Symmetry, Page 270:
"The theme of the Four Zoas is, first the loss of the identity of divine and human natures which brought about the Fall and and created the physical universe; second the struggle to regain this identity in the fallen world which was completed by Jesus; and, third, the apocalypse. This thesis is given most concisely in the following passage:

If Gods combine against Man Setting their Dominion above
The Human form Divine. Thrown down from their high Station       
In the Eternal heavens of Human Imagination: buried beneath 
In dark Oblivion with incessant pangs ages on ages
In Enmity & war first weakend then in stern repentance
They must renew their brightness & their disorganizd functions
Again reorganize till they resume the image of the human    
Cooperating in the bliss of Man obeying his Will
Servants to the infinite & Eternal of the Human form
From the point of view of this poem, therefore, the essential barrier between man and his divine inheritance is the belief in a nonhuman God founded on the fallen vision of an objective nature. This is what Blake means by "Religion.
Page 278
"The Plan of the Four Zoas is not difficult to follow. Night I deals with the fall of Tharmas and the end of the Golden Age; Night II with the fall of Luvah and the end of the Silver age; Night III with the fall of Urizen and the end of the Brazen Age; Night IV with the beginning of the Iron Age or humanity in its present form six thousand years ago and the establishment of fallen life (Adam) and death (Satan). Then comes the tracing of the Orc cycle, under the symbols of the birth and binding of Orc in Night V, Urizen's exploration of his dens in Night VI, the crucifixion of Orc and the triumph of moral virtue in Night VII. In Night VII, however, a double cricis takes place, one an imaginative advance, symbolized by the mingling of Los and the Spectre of Urthona, the other a consolidation of error symbolized by the birth of Rahab from the Spectre of Urthona and another character called the Shadow of Enitharmon. In Night VIII this antithesis sharpens into its final form, in the Incarnation of Christ and the epiphany of Antichrist respectively. Night IX deals with the apocalypse."

Nearing the end of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation, John writes:

Revelation 22
[1] And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
[2] In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
[3] And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
[4] And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
[5] And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
[6] And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
[7] Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

In the Apocalypse described by John of Patmos and by Blake, the principles which guide Eternity transform man's earthly experience.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Four Zoas, Night IX
Page 139
Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 139, (E 407) 
"The Sun arises from his dewy bed & the fresh airs
Play in his smiling beams giving the seeds of life to grow
And the fresh Earth beams forth ten thousand thousand springs of life
Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now
Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los                
Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns           

                  End of The Dream" 
The final page of the Four Zoas is a response to early lines in Blake's poem where he declared his intention of giving an account of the Zoa named Urthona:

"His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead." 
The Element of Urthona is the Earth which we call our home. Blake begins and ends his poem with the Earth which is the site in which transformation must be revealed. Within the psyche of man, Urthona dwells in the Unconscious to which man turns to touch his Eternal nature. It is through Urthona that man exercises his spiritual perception and discerns vision. Through Urthona man is connected to the Eternal; not by reason, sensation or emotion but by intuition.

The dark religions which have departed are religions which were provided by the Eyes of God so that man may not fall into the abyss. There is not longer need for a religion of human sacrifice, vengeance, moral law, rationalism or a distant God reigning in the sky. Man's awareness of God residing within his own Soul is all the religion he needs. Blake's 'Sweet Science' will reign because man is able to behold everything as holy.  

Four Zoas, Page 3, Night I, (E 301) 
"Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth
Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night                 
Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name
PAGE 4,       
In Eden; in the Auricular Nerves of Human life
Which is the Earth of Eden, he his Emanations propagated
Fairies of Albion afterwards Gods of the Heathen, Daughter of Beulah Sing
His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead"

Some complain that Blake did not make it clear how the transformation from the fallen world to the unfallen world took place. The change took place in increments and could have been interrupted by a misstep at any point. But the process continued until suddenly mankind had left behind his old self and acquired a new vision, a new power, and a new image of himself and his world.

This passage from Northrop Frye's Fearful Symmetry may clarify the process through which man attains higher consciousness:

Page 259 -260
"Man stands at the level of conscious life: immediately in front of him is the power to visualize the eternal city and garden he is trying to regain; immediately behind him is an unconscious, involuntary and cyclic energy, much of which still goes on inside of his own body. Man is therefore a Luvah or form of life subject to two inpulses, one the prophetic impulse leading him forward to vision, the other the natural impulse which drags him back to unconsciousness and finally to death.
The imagination says that man is not chain-bound but muscle-bound; that he is born alive and everywhere dying in sleep; and that when the conscious imagination in man perfects the vision of the world of consciousness, at that point man's eyes will necessarily be open.
Every advance of truth forces error to consolidate itself in a more obviously erroneous form, and every advance of freedom has the same effect on tyranny. Thus history exhibits a series of crises in which a sudden flash of imaginative vision (as in the French Revolution) bursts out is counteracted by a more ruthless defense of the status quo, and subsides again. The evolution come in the fact that the opposition grows sharper each time, and will one day present a clear-cut alternative of eternal life or extermination."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 138
Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 138, (E 406) 
"Then Dark Urthona took the Corn out of the Stores of Urizen
He ground it in his rumbling Mills Terrible the distress
Of all the Nations of Earth ground in the Mills of Urthona
In his hand Tharmas takes the Storms. he turns the whirlwind Loose
Upon the wheels the stormy seas howl at his dread command        
And Eddying fierce rejoice in the fierce agitation of the wheels
Of Dark Urthona Thunders Earthquakes Fires Water floods
Rejoice to one another loud their voices shake the Abyss
Their dread forms tending the dire mills The grey hoar frost was there
And his pale wife the aged Snow they watch over the fires        
They build the Ovens of Urthona Nature in darkness groans
And Men are bound to sullen contemplations in the night
Restless they turn on beds of sorrow. in their inmost brain
Feeling the crushing Wheels they rise they write the bitter words
Of Stern Philosophy & knead the bread of knowledge with tears & groans

Such are the works of Dark Urthona Tharmas sifted the corn
Urthona made the Bread of Ages & he placed it
In golden & in silver baskets in heavens of precious stone
And then took his repose in Winter in the night of Time

The Sun has left his blackness & has found a fresher morning     
And the mild moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night  
And Man walks forth from midst of the fires the evil is all consumd
His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night & day
The stars consumd like a lamp blown out & in their stead behold
The Expanding Eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds 
One Earth one sea beneath nor Erring Globes wander but Stars
Of fire rise up nightly from the Ocean & one Sun
Each morning like a New born Man issues with songs & Joy
Calling the Plowman to his Labour & the Shepherd to his rest
He walks upon the Eternal Mountains raising his heavenly voice   
Conversing with the Animal forms of wisdom night & day
That risen from the Sea of fire renewd walk oer the Earth

For Tharmas brought his flocks upon the hills & in the Vales
Around the Eternal Mans bright tent the little Children play
Among the wooly flocks The hammer of Urthona sounds              
In the deep caves beneath his limbs renewd his Lions roar
Around the Furnaces & in Evening sport upon the plains
They raise their faces from the Earth conversing with the Man
How is it we have walkd thro fires & yet are not consumd 
How is it that all things are changd even as in ancient times"
As Blake is reaching the conclusion of the Four the fireworks are over. The wheat has been separated from the chaff: truth from error. The Zoas are in their rightful places satisfied to do their work and appreciative of the work done by their brother Zoas. Urthona is here the oldest brother, older than Tharmas: man's consciousness of his spiritual nature is more fundamental than his consciousness of himself as a body. 
The processes of the human brain are served by the forces of nature not the reverse as was the case when nature dictated to man and mediated reality from outer to inner. The working of Urizen is to supply grain to the mills of Urthona from which he will make the Bread of Life. Man will no longer be fed on the bread made by Urizen - bitter words or stern philosophy. 
The spiritual wisdom of Urthona will be served to mankind as he works, and loves and grows wise and beautiful. Each individual will be transformed by his restored ability to perceive the infinite in all things.  


Monday, August 17, 2015


Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 123, (E 392)
"And all the marks remain of the Slaves scourge & tyrants Crown
And of the Priests oergorged Abdomen & of the merchants thin
Sinewy deception & of the warriors ou[t]braving & thoughtlessness
In lineaments too extended & in bones too strait & long

They shew their wounds they accuse they sieze the opressor howlings began
On the golden palace Songs & joy on the desart the Cold babe
Stands in the furious air he cries the children of six thousand years
Who died in infancy rage furious a mighty multitude rage furious
Naked & pale standing on the expecting air to be deliverd
Rend limb from limb the Warrior & the tyrant reuniting in pain   
The furious wind still rends around they flee in sluggish effort

They beg they intreat in vain now they Listend not to intreaty
They view the flames red rolling on thro the wide universe
From the dark jaws of death beneath & desolate shores remote
These covering Vaults of heaven & these trembling globes of Earth
One Planet calls to another & one star enquires of another   
What flames are these coming from the South what noise what dreadful rout
As of a battle in the heavens hark heard you not the trumpet
As of fierce battle while they spoke the flames come on intense roaring

They see him whom they have piercd they wail because of him  
They magnify themselves no more against Jerusalem Nor
Against her little ones the innocent accused before the Judges
Shines with immortal Glory trembling the judge springs from his throne
Hiding his face in the dust beneath the prisoners feet & saying
Brother of Jesus what have I done intreat thy lord for me   

Perhaps I may be forgiven While he speaks the flames roll on
And after the flames appears the Cloud of the Son of Man
Descending from Jerusalem with power and great Glory
All nations look up to the Cloud & behold him who was Crucified

The Prisoner answers you scourgd my father to death before my face    
While I stood bound with cords & heavy chains, Your hipocrisy
Shall now avail you nought. So speaking he dashd him with his foot

The Cloud is Blood dazling upon the heavens & in the cloud
Above upon its volumes is beheld a throne & a pavement 
Of precious stones. surrounded by twenty four venerable patriarchs  
And these again surrounded by four Wonders of the Almighty 
Incomprehensible. pervading all amidst & round about
Fourfold each in the other reflected they are named Life's in Eternity.
Four Starry Universes going forward from Eternity to Eternity
And the Falln Man who was arisen upon the Rock of Ages
PAGE 124
Beheld the Vision of God & he arose up from the Rock
And Urizen arose up with him walking thro the flames
Still to the Rock in vain they strove to Enter the Consummation
Together for the Redeemd Man could not enter the Consummation" 
"Before even redeemed Man can enter into his own unity again, the whole cosmos must be delivered by a great harvest and vintage, as in Revelation. But Blake's is the most active of revelations, and the Zoas or living principles of humanity must themselves work the rejuvenation." (Harold Bloom, Blake's Apocalypse, Page 272)

Although decisive steps have been taken to return mankind to perfect unity with God, there is still work to be done. The stage of development of which Blake writes on Page 123 is analogous to what was known in early Christianity as the 'Harrowing of Hell' which is based on scriptural references in First Peter: 

1 Peter 3
[18] For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
[19] By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
1 Peter 4
[5] Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
[6] For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

We find on this page of the Four Zoas the words 'They see him whom they have piercd,' a reference to the Crucifixion as describe in John 19 with the words:

[33] But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
[34] But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

The phrase 'dashd him with his foot,' refers us to Psalms 91 and to the temptation of Jesus in the gospels including in Luke 4:

[10] For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
[11] And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Events reminiscent of the Book of Revelation proceed on a grand scale but Blake is aware of the enormous work involved on preparing for the consummation:  

Revelations 14
[13] And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
[14] And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
[15] And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
[16] And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
[17] And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
[18] And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
[19] And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
[20] And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

Mary Lynn Johnson and Brian Wilkie in Blake's Four Zoas: Design of a Dream indicate that we can't expect a smooth process when we are considering modifications in the cosmos: 

"The pace of regeneration in Night IX is not steady; new life develops fitfully, through sudden energetic advances punctuated by halts and sometimes by slight regressions which dramatize two points: that salvation demands persistent effort and that it is itself a transfigured strife." (Page 221) 

Saturday, August 15, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 122
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 121, (E 391)
"The three daughters of Urizen Guard Ahanias Death couch     
Rising from the confusion in tears & howlings & despair
Calling upon their fathers Name upon their Rivers dark

And the Eternal Man Said Hear my words O Prince of Light 
PAGE 122 
Behold Jerusalem in whose bosom the Lamb of God
Is seen tho slain before her Gates he self renewd remains
Eternal & I thro him awake to life from deaths dark vale
The times revolve the time is coming when all these delights
Shall be renewd & all these Elements that now consume            
Shall reflourish. Then bright Ahania shall awake from death
A glorious Vision to thine Eyes a Self renewing Vision 
The spring. the summer to be thine then Sleep the wintry days
In silken garments spun by her own hands against her funeral
The winter thou shalt plow & lay thy stores into thy barns       
Expecting to recieve Ahania in the spring with joy
Immortal thou. Regenerate She & all the lovely Sex
>From her shall learn obedience & prepare for a wintry grave
That spring may see them rise in tenfold joy & sweet delight
Thus shall the male & female live the life of Eternity           
Because the Lamb of God Creates himself a bride & wife
That we his Children evermore may live in Jerusalem
Which now descendeth out of heaven a City yet a Woman
Mother of myriads redeemd & born in her spiritual palaces
By a New Spiritual birth Regenerated from Death                  

Urizen Said. I have Erred & my Error remains with me
What Chain encompasses in what Lock is the river of light confind
That issues forth in the morning by measure & the evening by carefulness
Where shall we take our stand to view the infinite & unbounded
Or where are human feet for Lo our eyes are in the heavens 

He ceasd for rivn link from link the bursting Universe explodes
All things reversd flew from their centers rattling bones
To bones join, shaking convulsd the shivering clay breathes
Each speck of dust to the Earths center nestles round & round
In pangs of an Eternal Birth in torment & awe & fear             
All spirits deceasd let loose from reptile prisons come in shoals
Wild furies from the tygers brain & from the lions Eyes    
And from the ox & ass come moping terrors. from the Eagle
And raven numerous as the leaves of Autumn   every species
Flock to the trumpet muttring over the sides of the grave crying   
In the fierce wind round heaving rocks & mountains filld with groans
On rifted rocks suspended in the air by inward fires
Many a woful company & many on clouds & waters
Fathers & friends Mothers & Infants Kings & Warriors
Priests & chaind Captives met together in a horrible fear        
And every one of the dead appears as he had livd before"
On page 122 Urizen continues to participate in the metamorphosis taking place in the cosmos. The Eternal Man replies to Urizen's confession of responsibility for the instability which has arisen within man and in the external world.

Urizen is told that by encountering the spiritual aspect within himself, he can engage with the incarnation of the spirit in matter. Although Albion has experienced transitions through several states of consciousness, God's Eternal Word remains constant. Urizen is told that he will continue to see changes within and around him, including the return of his ability to be expressed through his Emanation Ahania. The cyclical regeneration of the mental processes, which Ahania represents, will remain an aspect of the psyche. There is a feedback loop which stimulates thought and responds to it. The nurturing times lead to the productive activity and vice versa.

Perhaps we would miss the import of the question, 'where are human feet', if it were not followed in the next line by the phrase, 'the bursting Universe explodes.' Like Parsifal's question, 'Whom does the Grail serve?', Urizen's question breaks through the division between human and divine. Remember that Blake asks the question also:

Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)
"And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!"

If the feet of the Lamb of God tread England's paths and mankind plants his feet on Edan's soil, can apocalypse be delayed?

Blake must have known his physics well enough to realize the every explosion is an implosion as well, because he immediately transfers his attention to reassembling scattered particles into an inclusive ecosystem.

Revelation 3
[11] Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
[12] Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Revelation 21
[1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
[2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
[3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Ezekiel 37
[1] The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
[2] And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
[3] And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
[4] Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
[5] Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
[6] And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 


Sunday, August 9, 2015


British Library  
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 110

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 109, (E 385)
"When the mortal disappears in improved knowledge cast away
The former things so shall the Mortal gently fade away
And so become invisible to those who still remain
Listen I will tell thee what is done in the caverns of the grave 

PAGE 114 [110] 
The Lamb of God has rent the Veil of Mystery soon to return
In Clouds & Fires around the rock & the Mysterious tree
As the seed waits Eagerly watching for its flower & fruit
Anxious its little soul looks out into the clear expanse
To see if hungry winds are abroad with their invisible army 
So Man looks out in tree & herb & fish & bird & beast
Collecting up the scatterd portions of his immortal body
Into the Elemental forms of every thing that grows
He tries the sullen north wind riding on its angry furrows
The sultry south when the sun rises & the angry east 
When the sun sets when the clods harden & the cattle stand
Drooping & the birds hide in their silent nests. he stores his thoughts
As in a store house in his memory he regulates the forms
Of all beneath & all above   & in the gentle West
Reposes where the Suns heat dwells   he rises to the Sun
And to the Planets of the Night & to the stars that gild
The Zodiac & the stars that sullen stand to north & south
He touches the remotest pole & in the Center weeps
That Man should Labour & sorrow & learn & forget & return
To the dark valley whence he came to begin his labours anew
In pain he sighs in pain he labours in his universe
Screaming in birds over the deep & howling in the Wolf
Over the slain & moaning in the cattle & in the winds
And weeping over Orc & Urizen in clouds & flaming fires    
And in the cries of birth & in the groans of death his voice 
Is heard throughout the Universe whereever a grass grows
Or a leaf buds   The Eternal Man is seen is heard   is felt
And all his Sorrows till he reassumes his ancient bliss

Such are the words of Ahania & Enion. Los hears & weeps 
And Los & Enitharmon took the Body of the Lamb 
Down from the Cross & placd it in a Sepulcher which Los had hewn
For himself in the Rock of Eternity trembling & in despair
Jerusalem wept over the Sepulcher two thousand Years"
The life we live in the material world is our mortal life engendered when the eternal spirit assumes a physical body. What Blake proposes to do is show us the process of putting aside mortality and assuming immortality. Awakening is one of the metaphors apropos for the process. We can imagine beginning to awaken: stirring, stretching, allowing a bit of light to enter our eyes. We are exiting the dream that absorbed our mind's activity.

When Jesus was crucified the mortal for him disappeared. For three days he was invisible to those who remained behind. Blake tells us of the work of the Lamb of God taking place in preparation for the resurrection during this period. For the individual the desired outcome is resurrection; for humanity it is apocalypse.

Blake's primary image for the fall of man is the division of the unified mind into portions which are unable to integrate their functions into an undivided whole. The Lamb of God is making it possible for Albion once again to recognize all of the manifestations of life as 'scatterd portions of his immortal body.' Although Blake draws together the forms of life, the Elemental Forces and the Zodiac, these are symbolic of the world of mortality. These represent the cyclical actions of material life: the activities of the grave from which the Eternal Man will exit when he resumes his 'ancient bliss'. The final verbal image on Page 110 is of Jesus being placed in the sepulcher to prepare for apocalypse.

Gates of Paradise, Keys, (E 269)
"13   But when once I did descry 
     The Immortal Man that cannot Die
14   Thro evening shades I haste away 
     To close the Labours of my Day
15   The Door of Death I open found                             
     And the Worm Weaving in the Ground
16   Thou'rt my Mother from the Womb 
     Wife, Sister, Daughter to the Tomb 
     Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife
     And weeping over the Web of Life"   
1 Corinthians 15
[36] You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
[37] And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
[38] But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
[39] For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
[40] There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
[41] There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
[42] So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
[43] It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
[44] It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
[45] Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
[46] But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual.
[47] The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
[48] As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.
[49] Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
[50] I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
[51] Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
[52] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
[53] For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.

Friday, August 7, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 99
 Four Zoas, Night VIII, PAGE 99, (E 371)
          Night the Eighth
Then All in Great Eternity Met in the Council of God
as one Man Even Jesus upon Gilead & Hermon          
Upon the Limit of Contraction to create the fallen Man
The Fallen Man stretchd like a Corse upon the oozy Rock 
Washd with the tides Pale overgrown with weeds   

That movd with horrible dreams hovring high over his head
Two winged immortal shapes one standing at his feet
Toward the East one standing at his head toward the west
Their wings joind in the Zenith over head        
Such is a Vision of All Beulah hovring over the Sleeper     

The limit of Contraction now was fixd & Man began
To wake upon the Couch of Death   he sneezed seven times
A tear of blood dropped from either eye again he reposd
In the saviours arms, in the arms of tender mercy & loving kindness

Then Los said I behold the Divine Vision thro the broken Gates
Of thy poor broken heart astonishd melted into Compassion & Love
And Enitharmon said I see the Lamb of God upon Mount Zion 
Wondring with love & Awe they felt the divine hand upon them 

For nothing could restrain the dead in Beulah from descending
Unto Ulros night tempted by the Shadowy females sweet    
Delusive cruelty they descend away from the Daughters of Beulah
And Enter Urizens temple Enitharmon pitying & her heart
Gates broken down. they descend thro the Gate of Pity
The broken heart Gate of Enitharmon She sighs them forth upon the wind
Of Golgonooza Los stood recieving them          
For Los could enter into Enitharmons bosom & explore
Its intricate Labyrinths now the Obdurate heart was broken"
The first page of Night VIII provides more than a glimmer of hope that Albion's long despairing dream will come to an end. On the level of Eternity, the Council of God meets as Jesus through whom redemption will be fulfilled. On the level of Spiritual Perception, Los and Enitharmon have the impediments which have prevented their growth removed: Los beholds the Divine Vision, and Enitharmon's damaged heart becomes capable of loving. The work of restoration can continue although it is not yet accomplished, nor can it be without additional suffering.   

In Blake's Four Zoas: Design of a Dream by Mary Lynn Johnson and John E Grant we receive this introduction to Night VIII:

"Night VII. In this Night sharply delineated extremes of hope and despair truth and error, life and death, appear almost simultaneously in their most unmistakable manifestations. This is the night when Jesus and Jerusalem, the heralds of self-fulfillment through self-sacrifice, enter the human heart to illuminate it, and when Satan and mystery reveal themselves as ultimate error. This is the Night when the forges and looms of Los and Enitharmon create and when the mills and wars of Urizen and Rahab destroy. This is the Night when Jesus in Luvah is crucified; yet even when he is dead and buried, new life is imminent. Ahania and Enion, as antiphonal voices of the grave and the plowed field, define death and life in their natural and spiritual forms. The events of Night VIII are redemptive, but as the events unfold, Los and his associates despair, as the disciples despaired before the first Easter. Night VIII is the time when Jesus is at last recognized on the human plane, but it is also the time - analogous both to the Saturday before Easter and to the two thousand years of Christendom - when he seems indisputably dead, most painfully absent from those who have been working through time for human salvation." (Page 166)  

Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Page 24 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 62

Four Zoas, Night VII b, PAGE 92, (E 364)
"Of death O northern drum awake O hand of iron sound
The northern drum. Now give the charge! bravely obscurd!
With darts of wintry hail. Again the black bow draw
Again the Elemental Strings to your right breasts draw
And let the thundring drum speed on the arrows black  

The arrows flew from cloudy bow all day. till blood
From east to west flowd like the human veins in rivers
Of life upon the plains of death & valleys of despair

Now sound the clarions of Victory now strip the slain
clothe yourselves in golden arms brothers of war   
They sound the clarions strong they chain the howling captives
they give the Oath of blood They cast the lots into the helmet,
They vote the death of Luvah & they naild him to the tree
They piercd him with a spear & laid him in a sepulcher
To die a death of Six thousand years bound round with desolation 
The sun was black & the moon rolld a useless globe thro heaven

Then left the Sons of Urizen the plow & harrow the loom
The hammer & the Chisel & the rule & compasses
They forgd the sword the chariot of war the battle ax
The trumpet fitted to the battle & the flute of summer 
And all the arts of life they changd into the arts of death
The hour glass contemnd because its simple workmanship
Was as the workmanship of the plowman & the water wheel
That raises water into Cisterns broken & burnd in fire
Because its workmanship was like the workmanship of the Shepherd 
And in their stead intricate wheels invented Wheel without wheel
To perplex youth in their outgoings & to bind to labours
Of day & night the myriads of Eternity. that they might file
And polish brass & iron hour after hour laborious workmanship
Kept ignorant of the use that they might spend the days of wisdom
In sorrowful drudgery to obtain a scanty pittance of bread
In ignorance to view a small portion & think that All
And call it Demonstration blind to all the simple rules of life

Now now the Battle rages round thy tender limbs O Vala
Now smile among thy bitter tears now put on all thy beauty  
Is not the wound of the sword Sweet & the broken bone delightful
Wilt thou now smile among the slain when the wounded groan in the field"

Harold Bloom, on Page 244 of Blake's Apocalypse, makes this comment:
"It is customary to speak of Blake's two attempts at Night VII as two 'versions', but the word is misleading if it is taken to mean that one is a revision of the other. They are rather alternate versions of a crucial section of the poem, and might better be called rival visions...The first attempt was much revised by Blake, who clearly was unhappy with it, and who finally so scrambled the sequence of passages within it that the reader cannot be sure what the best and definite sequence is.

Night VII in this revised version, has given birth to dual transformations of psychic potential. The first has left us with a shadowy female, Vala, the delusive beauty of nature and with the fallen Urizen, the concentration of everything deathly in the fallen intellect. The second has given us a Los reformed into a poet-prophet life Blake himself, capable of loving everything that is most opposed to him. From the conflict of these two principles, that toward natural death and that toward imaginative life, the antinomies of Night VIII will be formed." 

On Page 90 Los had made a breakthrough to a degree of self-knowledge through which he could accept aspects of himself which had been alienated. Urizen, however, was not mollified by the alteration in Los' outlook. In fact Urizen was impelled to intensify his attack on Los.

On Page 92 Blake inserts words to remind us of the final attack on Jesus as he stood up against the powers of this world. The violence surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus is like the violent reaction of Urizen to Los' opening to compassion as described on Page 90. As a portent to conflict Blake twice uses the phrase Elemental Strings: once on Plate 3 of Europe once on page 92 of the Four Zoas.

Glasgow University Library  
Plate 3, Copy B
Europe, Plate 3 [5], (E 61) 
"Again the night is come 
That strong Urthona takes his rest, 
And Urizen unloos'd from chains 
Glows like a meteor in the distant north 
Stretch forth your hands and strike the elemental strings! 
Awake the thunders of the deep."