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

Monday, August 17, 2015

WHAT HAVE I DONE [123]

British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 123

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) 
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