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

Thursday, September 24, 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"

Yale Center for British Art
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
 We visited page 99 before but without any consideration of the image from Night Thoughts which occupies the page along with the compelling words of text. The bearded man holding the scythe is a traditional symbol of the completion of a period of time. In addition to seeing the old man as Father Time, we can see him as one of the angels assigned to watch over the fallen man. His wings, the concern in his face and the tuft of hair on his forehead identify him as spiritual guide for those on the Journey. Two other symbols of the completion of a stage of development are the hourglass at the top of the image and the outstretched hand measuring a span at the bottom. 

The decisive events which move the narrative beyond the inconclusive action of Night VII involve the restoration of the ability to see the Divine Vision in Night VIII. It is the brokenness of Los and Enitharmon which enables them to recover a spiritual perspective. But their real work is only beginning: now they must work out a way for others who are dead spiritually to find their way back to life.

Psalms 51
[6] Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
[8] Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
[9] Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
[10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
[11] Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
[12] Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
[13] Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
[15] O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
[16] For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
[17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.


Saturday, September 19, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 97

Lines from the previous and subsequent pages have been added to clarify the meaning of page 97.

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 88 [96], (E 361) 
"Tharmas laughd furious among the Banners clothd in blood
Crying As I will I rend the Nations all asunder rending
The People, vain their combinations I will scatter them  
But thou O Son whom I have crowned and inthrond thee Strong
I will preserve tho Enemies arise around thee numberless
I will command my winds & they shall scatter them or call    
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 89 [97], (E 361) 
My Waters like a flood around thee fear not trust in me
And I will give thee all the ends of heaven for thy possession
In war shalt thou bear rule in blood shalt thou triumph for me
Because in times of Everlasting I was rent in sunder
And what I loved best was divided among my Enemies  
My little daughters were made captives & I saw them beaten
With whips along the sultry sands. I heard those whom I lovd 
Crying in secret tents at night & in the morn compelld
To labour & behold my heart sunk down beneath
In sighs & sobbings all dividing till I was divided          
In twain & lo my Crystal form that lived in my bosom
Followd her daughters to the fields of blood they left me naked
Alone & they refusd to return from the fields of the mighty
Therefore I will reward them as they have rewarded me
I will divide them in my anger & thou O my King  
Shalt gather them from out their graves & put thy fetter on them
And bind them to thee that my crystal form may come to me

So cried the Demon of the Waters in the Clouds of Los
Outstretchd upon the hills lay Enitharmon clouds & tempests
Beat round her head all night all day she riots in Excess   
But night or day Los follows War & the dismal moon rolls over her
That when Los warrd upon the South reflected the fierce fires
Of his immortal head into the North upon faint Enitharmon
Red rage the furies of fierce Orc black thunders roll round Los
Flaming his head like the bright sun seen thro a mist that magnifies 
His disk into a terrible vision to the Eyes of trembling mortals

And Enitharmon trembling & in fear utterd these words

I put not any trust in thee nor in thy glittering scales
Thy eyelids are a terror to me & the flaming of thy crest
The rushing of thy Scales confound me thy hoarse rushing scales  
And if that Los had not built me a tower upon a rock
I must have died in the dark desart among noxious worms
How shall I flee how shall I flee into the tower of Los
My feet are turned backward & my footsteps slide in clay
And clouds are closd around my tower my arms labour in vain 
Does not the God of waters in the wracking Elements
Love those who hate rewarding with hate the Loving Soul
PAGE 90 [98] 
And must not I obey the God thou Shadow of Jealousy
I cry the watchman heareth not I pour my voice in roarings
Watchman the night is thick & darkness cheats my rayie sight
Lift up Lift up O Los awake my watchman for he sleepeth
Lift up Lift up Shine forth O Light watchman thy light is out  
O Los unless thou keep my tower the Watchman will be slain

So Enitharmon cried upon her terrible Earthy bed
While the broad Oak wreathd his roots round her forcing his dark way
Thro caves of death into Existence" 

Yale Center for British Art
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
In the passage on page 97 of the Four Zoas, Enitharmon was a victim. Tharmas, still insisting on the return of Enion, stirred up the waters of matter.  Red Orc, in his serpent form, was supported by the vengeance of Tharmas against those who thwarted him. In fear of the fury of Orc, Enitharmon longed to return to the tower which Los had built for her. Feeling confused and helpless Enitharmon called out for her watchman for protection. She appealed to Los to wake her watchman. The protection which she sought stirred into life, working through her subconscious. 

The image from Night Thoughts accompanying the text encourages us to stretch our imaginations to connect it to the words. A possible representation is of Jesus raising Lazarus. The picture would be a reminder that there is a means provided through which we can be helped to make the transition to spiritual consciousness. Enitharmon's plea is to her own inner sensitivity to a dimension of herself which can provide a passage out of the trap she is in. In Blake's system each aspect of the divided humanity must find its own way to reconnect with a unified and unifying consciousness.

Related images from Songs of Experience and There Is No Natural Religion.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 95

Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 87 [95] (FIRST PORTION), (E 367)
"For far & wide she stretchd thro all the worlds of Urizens journey
And was Ajoind to Beulah as the Polypus to the Rock
Mo[u]rning the daughters of Beulah saw nor could they have sustaind
The horrid sight of death & torment   But the Eternal Promise
They wrote on all their tombs & pillars & on every Urn     
These words   If ye will believe your B[r]other shall rise again
In golden letters ornamented with sweet labours of Love
Waiting with Patience for the fulfilment of the Promise Divine 

And all the Songs of Beulah sounded comfortable notes
Not suffring doubt to rise up from the Clouds of the Shadowy Female 
Then myriads of the Dead burst thro the bottoms of their tombs
Descending on the shadowy females clouds in Spectrous terror
Beyond the Limit of Translucence on the Lake of Udan Adan
These they namd Satans & in the Aggregate they namd them Satan"

Second part of text is on page 95 in David Erdman's The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake. 
"But in the deeps beneath the Roots of Mystery in darkest night
Where Urizen sat on his rock the Shadow brooded      
Urizen saw & triumphd & he cried to his warriors     

The time of Prophecy is now revolvd & all
This Universal Ornament is mine & in my hands
The ends of heaven like a Garment will I fold them round me      
Consuming what must be consumd then in power & majesty
I will walk forth thro those wide fields of endless Eternity
A God & not a Man a Conqueror in triumphant glory
And all the Sons of Everlasting shall bow down at my feet  
First Trades & Commerce ships & armed vessels he builded laborious  
To swim the deep & on the Land children are sold to trades 

Of dire necessity still laboring day & night till all
Their life extinct they took the spectre form in dark despair
And slaves in myriads in ship loads burden the hoarse sounding deep
Rattling with clanking chains the Universal Empire groans 

And he commanded his Sons found a Center in the Deep
And Urizen laid the first Stone & all his myriads
Builded a temple in the image of the human heart."
Yale Center for British Art
Illustrations to Young's Night thoughts
Blake's choice of a page from Night Thoughts to present his text found on page 87 and 95, provides a happy scene on two levels. The upper image is a contented, benevolent Daughter of Beulah observing below a happy group whose activities partake of the joyful Brotherhood of Eden.
But there is another level not visible in the picture but described in the text at the lower part of the page. In the deeps Urizen has created a world from his illusions in which he is not subject to any reality other than which he created in his own inflated fantasy of his power. In place of the human heart filled with love and compassion, he proposes to construct a temple, made with hands and in the shape of a heart. His structure for the worship of his own system of war and empire enlists 'myrids' to engage in the grand building project.
In Young's page of text that Blake illustrated for the published book, he highlighted the line: "Teaching, we learn; and, giving, we retain."

Second Corinthians 5
[1] For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  .

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 93
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 93, (E 365)

"Life up thy blue eyes Vala & put on thy sapphire shoes
O Melancholy Magdalen behold the morning breaks
Gird on thy flaming Zone. descend into the Sepulcher
Scatter the blood from thy golden brow the tears from thy silver locks
Shake off the waters from thy wings & the dust from thy white garments

Remember all thy feigned terrors on the secret Couch
When the sun rose in glowing morn with arms of mighty hosts
Marching to battle who was wont to rise with Urizens harps  
Girt as a Sower with his seed to scatter life abroad

Arise O Vala bring the bow of Urizen bring the swift arrows of light 
How ragd the golden horses of Urizen bound to the chariot of Love
Compelld to leave the plow to the Ox to snuff up the winds of desolation
To trample the corn fields in boastful neighings. this is no gentle harp
This is no warbling brook nor Shadow of a Myrtle tree

But blood & wounds & dismal cries & clarions of war     
And hearts laid open to the light by the broad grizly sword
And bowels hidden in hammerd steel rippd forth upon the Ground 
Call forth thy Smiles of soft deceit call forth thy cloudy tears
We hear thy sighs in trumpets shrill when Morn shall blood renew   

So sung the demons of the deep the Clarions of war blew loud     
Orc rent her & his human form consumd in his own fires
Mingled with her dolorous members strewn thro the Abyss
She joyd in all the Conflict Gratified & drinking tears of woe
No more remaind of Orc but the Serpent round the tree of Mystery
The form of Orc was gone he reard his serpent bulk among 
The stars of Urizen in Power rending the form of life 
Into a formless indefinite & strewing her on the Abyss
Like clouds upon the winter sky broken with winds & thunders
This was to her Supreme delight The Warriors mournd disappointed
They go out to war with Strong Shouts & loud Clarions O Pity     
They return with lamentations mourning & weeping

Invisible or visible drawn out in length or stretchd in breadth
The Shadowy Female varied in the War in her delight
Howling in discontent black & heavy uttering brute sounds
Wading thro fens among the slimy weeds making Lamentations      
To decieve Tharmas in his rage to soothe his furious soul 

To stay him in his flight that Urizen might live tho in pain
He said Art thou bright Enion is the Shadow of hope returnd

And She said Tharmas I am Vala bless thy innocent face
Doth Enion avoid the sight of thy blue watry eyes    
Be not perswaded that the air knows this or the failing dew

Tharmas replid O Vala once I livd in a garden of delight"

Wiki Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night thoughts
The descent into the sepulcher is the descent into the world of matter with its accompanying experiences of decay and death. Vala's descent provides Urizen with weapons of war. By joining together, the Shadowy Female and Orc have reduced the form of Orc to that of a serpent who entwines himself around the Tree of Mystery, which includes the false religion of accusation, judgment and punishment. The Shadowy Female, assuming the appearance of Vala, attempts to enlist Tharmas' help in order to protect her ally Urizen.

  The image calls to mind the situation of Urizen as he may have contemplated the consequences of entering the world of mortality. The figures in the lower world show diminishment as thy drink the dark wine of mortality. Their covered sensory organs indicate that the acute perception which they enjoyed in Eternity was one of the first losses experienced in materiality.

Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 121, (E 390)
"Urizen wept in the dark deep anxious his Scaly form
To reassume the human & he wept in the dark deep

Saying O that I had never drank the wine nor eat the bread
Of dark mortality nor cast my view into futurity nor turnd  
My back darkning the present clouding with a cloud" 

Several entries in the Blake Dictionary by S Foster Damon assist in understanding Blake's imagery:

SERPENT (Page 365)

"The Serpent has been a symbol of evil ever since it seduced Eve into eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Blake gives the serpent a number of overlapping meanings, all related.
The longest analysis of this process is Blake's study of the degeneration of Revolution. Orc is compelled by Urizen to assume the serpent form and climb the Tree of Mystery. He has lost all semblance of his original humanity and has descended into 'that State called Satan'. He encircles Man with his twenty-seven folds of his false heavens or churches 'in forms of Priesthood'. Thus Orc, originally enemy of religion, becomes his own opposite."

DEATH (Page 99)
"Death of the physical body is the shedding of the shell which the soul, or spiritual body, has grown for protection in this world. It is the return of the soul to Eternity. ... The inner being knows nothing of death, death exists only in the conscious mind and the world of matter. It is learned only by Experience. ... Only man fears death...But man's fears are augmented by the religion of Satan. ... Spiritual Death is sacrificing oneself for another." Milton, PLATE 38 [43], (E 139)
"Such are the Laws of Eternity that each shall mutually
Annihilate himself for others good, as I for thee"

"The Tree of Mystery is the contrary of the Tree of Life. It is the Tree of Death, the forbidden tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, whose fatal fruit brings spiritual death, causing man to set mimself up as a god (Elohim - judges.) It is the system of Morality, the false church of Mystery, the Whore of Babylon. On this Tree Jesus was crucified.
until the web of religion falls of its own weight and entangles Urizen."

WAR (Page 441)

"War on earth is 'energy enslaved'. It is the 'fever of the human soul'. After Luvah is sealed in the furnace of affliction, he reappears in the lower form of Orc; and the demons cry: 'Luvah King of Love, thou art the king of rage & death'. When Orc breaks loose and embraces the Shadowy Female (the debased Vala), war enters the material world." 

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Confusion about the order of Blake's manuscript pages for the Four Zoas is obvious in this section. This is the second title page of Night VII which we have seen. The title Vala would seem to indicate that Blake wrote this before he changed the title of his epic. Blake added the instruction as to where the Night should begin, and that this material should come in at the end. Scholars have worked this out as best they can. Some believe that Blake was saying something about the processes of finding one's way out of the labyrinth.

British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 91

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 91, (E 363) 
Night the Seventh
This Night began at line 153 the following comes in at the end

Thus in the Caverns of the Grave & Places of human seed 
The nameless shadowy Vortex stood before the face of Orc
The Shadow reard her dismal head over the flaming youth
With sighs & howling & deep sobs that he might lose his rage
And with it lose himself in meekness she embracd his fire 
As when the Earthquake rouzes from his den his shoulders huge
Appear above the crumb[l]ing Mountain. Silence waits around him
A moment then astounding horror belches from the Center
The fiery dogs arise the shoulders huge appear
So Orc rolld round his clouds upon the deeps of dark Urthona 
Knowing the arts of Urizen were Pity & Meek affection 
And that by these arts the Serpent form exuded from his limbs
Silent as despairing love & strong as Jealousy
Jealous that she was Vala now become Urizens harlot
And the Harlot of Los & the deluded harlot of the Kings of Earth 
His soul was gnawn in sunder
The hairy shoulders rend the links free are the wrists of fire
Red rage redounds he rouzd his lions from his forests black
They howl around the flaming youth rending the nameless shadow
And running their immortal course thro solid darkness borne   

Loud sounds the war song round red Orc in his [?triumphant] fury
And round the nameless shadowy Female in her howling terror
When all the Elemental Gods joind in the wondrous Song

Sound the War trumpet terrific Souls clad in attractive steel
Sound the shrill fife serpents of war. I hear the northern drum  
Awake, I hear the flappings of the folding banners

The dragons of the North put on their armour
Upon the Eastern sea direct they take their course
The glittring of their horses trapping stains the vault of night

Stop we the rising of the glorious King. spur spur your clouds"  

Wiki Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Another of the pages of the Four Zoas which Blake wrote on a discarded engraving for Night Thoughts was page 91. The image is of a bound and shackled man comfortably lying on the ground and reading a book. Female figures at various elevations surround the man. The text suggests that the condition of the man was not as pleasant as it seemed, for we are introduced to the idea that he was in a Cavern of the Grave. He certainly had diminished consciousness since he seemed unaware of being lashed down and chained. I hesitate to speculate on the identity of the man, but since he is intent on his book, he may be the reader of the Four Zoas.

The text follows a different line of thought. Orc, symbolizing aggressive male sexual energy, mated with the shadowy Vortex representing the promiscuous whore which Vala became. The union released forces which were destined to run their courses as the poem continued. Blake intimated that the darker side of the other Zoas would become involved:
"The dragons of the North put on their armour
Upon the Eastern sea direct they take their course
The glittring of their horses trapping stains the vault of night"

Friday, September 11, 2015


No one has accused Blake of consistency in writing the Four Zoas. He made constant alterations in his attempt to convey the vision of truth which he perceived. Page 85 offers particular problems because there is an instruction on a later page to move the later part of the text to a different position. Erdman in transcribing the text for the Four Zoas moved the second portion of the text to page 95. We, however, will consider page 85 as originally written including text from two pages in Erdman. The intervening pages provide detail of the process of transformation which Los underwent. Nothing can be changed in isolation; change is always an exchange whose enactment spreads repercussions in every direction.

British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 85
 Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 85, (E 360) 
"Astonishd filld with tears the spirit of Enitharmon beheld
And heard the Spectre bitterly she wept Embracing fervent   
Her once lovd Lord now but a Shade herself also a shade
Conferring times on times among the branches of that Tree

Thus they conferrd among the intoxicating fumes of Mystery    
Till Enitharmons shadow pregnant in the deeps beneath
Brought forth a wonder horrible. While Enitharmon shriekd
And trembled thro the Worlds above Los wept his fierce soul was terrifid
At the shrieks of Enitharmon at her tossings nor could his eyes percieve
The cause of her dire anguish for she lay the image of Death     
Movd by strong shudders till her shadow was deliverd then she ran
Raving about the upper Elements in maddning fury

She burst the Gates of Enitharmons heart with direful Crash
Nor could they ever be closd again the golden hinges were broken
And the gates broke in sunder & their ornaments defacd      

Beneath the tree of Mystery for the immortal shadow shuddering
Brought forth this wonder horrible a Cloud she grew & grew
Till many of the dead burst forth from the bottoms of their tombs
In male forms without female counterparts or Emanations   
Cruel and ravening with Enmity & Hatred & War  
In dreams of Ulro dark delusive drawn by the lovely shadow

The Spectre terrified gave her Charge over the howling Orc"

Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 95 [87] (SECOND PORTION), (E 367) 
"Then took the tree of Mystery root in the World of Los
Its topmost boughs shooting a fibre beneath Enitharmons couch 
The double rooted Labyrinth soon wavd around their heads  

But then the Spectre enterd Los's bosom Every sigh & groan
Of Enitharmon bore Urthonas Spectre on its wings
Obdurate Los felt Pity Enitharmon told the tale
Of Urthona. Los embracd the Spectre first as a brother
Then as another Self; astonishd humanizing & in tears    
In Self abasement Giving up his Domineering lust

Thou never canst embrace sweet Enitharmon terrible Demon. Till
Thou art united with thy Spectre Consummating by pains & labours
That mortal body & by Self annihilation back returning      
To Life Eternal be assurd I am thy real Self   
Tho thus divided from thee & the Slave of Every passion
Of thy fierce Soul Unbar the Gates of Memory look upon me
Not as another but as thy real Self I am thy Spectre
Thou didst subdue me in old times by thy Immortal Strength
When I was a ravning hungring & thirsting cruel lust & murder   
Tho horrible & Ghastly to thine Eyes tho buried beneath
The ruins of the Universe. hear what inspird I speak & be silent

If we unite in one[,] another better world will be        
Opend within your heart & loins & wondrous brain
Threefold as it was in Eternity & this the fourth Universe 
Will be Renewd by the three & consummated in Mental fires
But if thou dost refuse Another body will be prepared"

Wiki Commons 
Illustrations to Night Thoughts 
Blake's image on the page from Night Thoughts does not attempt to represent the complex action which was related in the text, but it gives an impression of some of the emotions involved. We see a man dismayed by the struggle of another man attempting to make an agonizing decision. We see a woman bent in pity or anguish over internal or external happenings. The standing figures although two, appear bound together. They are not on solid ground but are on a different plane of existence. The reclining figure in deep thought is trying to envision an unclear possibility. With his left hand he tries to hold back what may befall him. Several momentous events are related on this page. First two shades (unsubstantial beings) - the spirit of Enitharmon, and the Spectre, unite to give birth to a wonder horrible. Second the gates of Enitharmon's heart are broken, never to be mended. Third Los became susceptible to feeling emotion for the Spectre, which led him to attempt to unite with the Spectre.  

Post on page 83, post on page 87.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


"Blake's prophetic books, strange and obscure as they are at first approach, are alive in this deepest sense of all. They are on incessant process of destruction and creation, of creation through destruction. Their seeming chaos is the apparent confusion which attends swift and precipitate growth: the husks of the old are incessantly being split in sunder under the urge of the new realization." (Page 171)
William Blake by John Middleton Murry 

British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 81

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 80, (E 356)
"Urizen envious brooding sat & saw the secret terror
Flame high in pride & laugh to scorn the source of his deceit    
Nor knew the source of his own but thought himself the Sole author 
Of all his wandering Experiments in the horrible Abyss
He knew that weakness stretches out in breadth & length he knew
That wisdom reaches high & deep & therefore he made Orc
In Serpent form compelld stretch out & up the mysterious tree
He sufferd him to Climb that he might draw all human forms    
Into submission to his will nor knew the dread result

Los sat in showers of Urizen watching cold Enitharmon 
His broodings rush down to his feet producing Eggs that hatching
Burst forth upon the winds above the tree of Mystery
Enitharmon lay on his knees. Urizen tracd his Verses   
In the dark deep the dark tree grew. her shadow was drawn down
Down to the roots it wept over Orc. the Shadow of Enitharmon

Los saw her stretchd the image of death upon his witherd valleys
Her Shadow went forth & returnd Now she was pale as Snow
When the mountains & hills are coverd over & the paths of Men shut up
But when her spirit returnd as ruddy as a morning when
The ripe fruit blushes into joy in heavens eternal halls 
Sorrow shot thro him from his feet it shot up to his head
Like a cold night that nips the root & shatters off the leaves 
Silent he stood oer Enitharmon watching her pale face   
He spoke not he was Silent till he felt the cold disease
Then Los mournd on the dismal wind in his jealous lamentation

Why can I not Enjoy thy beauty   Lovely Enitharmon
When I return from clouds of Grief in the wandring Elements
Where thou in thrilling joy in beaming summer loveliness 
Delectable reposest ruddy in my absence flaming with beauty
Cold pale in sorrow at my approach trembling at my terrific
Forehead & eyes thy lips decay like roses in the spring 
How art thou Shrunk thy grapes that burst in summers vast Excess
Shut up in little purple covering faintly bud & die    
Thy olive trees that pourd down oil upon a thousand hills
Sickly look forth & scarcely stretch their branches to the plain
Thy roses that expanded in the face of glowing morn."

Blake uses an illustrations from his engravings for Young's Night Thoughts to accompany his text for page 81 of the Four Zoas. The connection of the image to his account of the Serpent being forced to climb the Tree of Mystery, and Los feeling estranged from Enitharmon is less than obvious. We must look deeper to see the figure in the picture as Urizen as he with one hand tears down the sun, with the other aims a spear of destruction. Underfoot Urizen tramples two figures who have opposed him.

Wiki Commons
Illustrations to Night Thoughts
The text identifies the Shadow of Enitharmon as the 'image of death' which dominates Los' thoughts, (not Enitharmon herself but a dark shade from his subconscious.) Enitharmon as cold and distant, and Urizen as dominant, work together in Los' mind to produce the 'cold disease' jealousy which Blake announced on on the title page was a theme of the Four Zoas.

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

Early in Blake's passage he calls to mind that it was Jesus who was raised on the tree, lifted up and drew all men to him.
John 12
[30] Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
[31] Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
[32] And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.


Monday, September 7, 2015


Luke 7:44-47 "Exactly," replied Jesus, and then turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "You can see this woman? I came into your house but you provided no water to wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. There was no warmth in your greeting, but she, from the moment I came in, has not stopped covering my feet with kisses. You gave me no oil for my head, but she has put perfume on my feet. That is why I tell you, Simon, that her sins, many as they are, are forgiven; for she has shown me so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only a little love to give."

Of the three classes of men, the reprobate is the one Blake associated with Jesus.

Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
"And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love."

Here we have Jesus saving the reprobate (sinners) from punishment of the law, and thereby saving the elect (accusers) from administering punishment. The love of Jesus keeps both classes from sin. But a question remained: why were the innocent condemned for the guilty?

Milton, Plate 11 [12], (E 105)
"And it was enquir'd: Why in a Great Solemn Assembly
The Innocent should be condemn'd for the Guilty? Then an Eternal rose
Saying. If the Guilty should be condemn'd, he must be an Eternal Death
And one must die for another throughout all Eternity.
Satan is fall'n from his station & never can be redeem'd
But must be new created continually moment by moment
And therefore the Class of Satan shall be calld the Elect, & those
Of Rintrah. the Reprobate, & those of Palamabron the Redeem'd
For he is redeem'd from Satans Law, the wrath falling on Rintrah,
And therefore Palamabron dared not to call a solemn Assembly
Till Satan had assum'd Rintrahs wrath in the day of mourning
In a feminine delusion of false pride self-deciev'd."

The guilty in this case was Satan (the Elect) but the guilt fell upon Rintrah (the Reprobate). The representative of the Eternals answers that it is to avoid sending the guilty to Eternal Death.

Milton, Plate 7, (E 101)
"[Palamabron says] prophetic I behold
His future course thro' darkness and despair to eternal death
But we must not be tyrants also! he hath assum'd my place
For one whole day, under pretence of pity and love to me:
My horses hath he maddend! and my fellow servants injur'd:
How should he[,] he[,] know the duties of another? O foolish
Would I had told Los, all my heart! but patience O my friends.
All may be well: silent remain, while I call Los and Satan."

Palamabron is confident that a solution will be found. The solution turns out to be that the Lamb of God take on the sin and guilt among the reprobates.

There Is No Natural Religion, (E 3)
"Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Milton, Plate 13 [14], (E107)
"For then the Body of Death was perfected in hypocritic holiness,
Around the Lamb, a Female Tabernacle woven in Cathedrons Looms
He died as a Reprobate. he was Punish'd as a Transgressor!
Glory! Glory! Glory! to the Holy Lamb of God
I touch the heavens as an instrument to glorify the Lord!

The Elect shall meet the Redeem'd. on Albions rocks they shall meet
Astonish'd at the Transgressor, in him beholding the Saviour.
And the Elect shall say to the Redeemd. We behold it is of Divine
Mercy alone! of Free Gift and Election that we live.
Our Virtues & Cruel Goodnesses, have deserv'd Eternal Death.
Thus they weep upon the fatal Brook of Albions River."

The Body of death forms around the Lamb of God. The Elect and Redeemed are given to see the Savior in the Transgressor.

Milton, 32 [35], (E 132)
"Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die.
Satan & Adam are States Created into Twenty-seven Churches
And thou O Milton art a State about to be Created
Called Eternal Annihilation that none but the Living shall
Dare to enter: & they shall enter triumphant over Death
And Hell & the Grave! States that are not, but ah! Seem to be."

The Elect, Redeemed and Reprobates are not the true identities of man but states which can be terminated. The Individual Identity never dies.

Milton, Plate 14, (E 108)
"I in my Selfhood am that Satan: I am that Evil One!
He is my Spectre! in my obedience to loose him from my Hells
To claim the Hells, my Furnaces, I go to Eternal Death.

And Milton said. I go to Eternal Death! Eternity shudder'd
For he took the outside course, among the graves of the dead
A mournful shade. Eternity shudderd at the image of eternal death"

Recognizing the state as a psychological condition to which we ourselves give reality, we are in a position to forgive and annihilate it.

Milton, PLATE 38 [43],(E 139)
"Satan! my Spectre! I know my power thee to annihilate
And be a greater in thy place, & be thy Tabernacle
A covering for thee to do thy will, till one greater comes
And smites me as I smote thee & becomes my covering.
Such are the Laws of thy false Heavns! but Laws of Eternity
Are not such: know thou: I come to Self Annihilation
Such are the Laws of Eternity that each shall mutually
Annihilate himself for others good, as I for thee".

If the reprobate were not an inner reality in each man, Jesus, the God within, would have no cause to associate with him. If there were no darkness within man, there would not be no need for the light.

Wiki Commons

 The Body of Abel found by Adam and Eve - Cain Fleeing

Sunday, September 6, 2015

FIRE & ICE [79]

My previous post LIKE A BLIGHTED TREE highlighted page 77 of the Four Zoas, the first page of one of the two distinct versions of Night VII. Harold Bloom (Blake's Apocalypse) tells us that this is the second attempt of Blake to write a satisfactory path from the dilemma which developed in the first six nights to the resolution which occurs in the final two nights. To Bloom the first writing of Night VII resulted in an impasse regarding how resolution of the conflicts could be accomplished. In the second version Blake developed strategies to bring about the breaking down of divisions among Urizen, Los and Enitharmon which set the stage for the Lamb of God to make his appearance in Night VIII.
Following only the pages in the second version of Night VII which contain images from 
Night Thoughts, we skip to page 79. We read here of the contention between Orc and Urizen, fire and ice, the forces for change and the forces for the status quo. In the mind, Orc struggled for the emotions to be expressed without restraint. Unfortunately for Orc, he had been chained to a rock deep in a cavern of the subconscious. Urizen, although free to act consciously, exercised self-restraint. His agenda was to impose limits because of his fear of futurity, and because of his inability to allow the intuitive expression of liberty. Urizen's control ironically was maintained by imposing suffering since none can fulfill his laws.
Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
"No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death
To every energy of man, and forbid the springs of life;"
British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 79
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 78, (E 354)
"Orc answer'd Curse thy hoary brows. What dost thou in this deep
Thy Pity I contemn scatter thy snows elsewhere
PAGE 79 
I rage in the deep for Lo my feet & hands are naild to the burning rock
Yet my fierce fires are better than thy snows   Shuddring thou sittest
Thou art not chaind Why shouldst thou sit cold grovelling demon of woe
In tortures of dire coldness now a Lake of waters deep
Sweeps over thee freezing to solid still thou sitst closd up     
In that transparent rock as if in joy of thy bright prison
Till overburdend with its own weight drawn out thro immensity
With a crash breaking across the horrible mass comes down
Thundring & hail & frozen iron haild from the Element
Rends thy white hair   yet thou dost fixd obdurate brooding sit 
Writing thy books. Anon a cloud filld with a waste of snows
Covers thee still obdurate still resolvd & writing still
Tho rocks roll oer thee tho floods pour tho winds black as the Sea
Cut thee in gashes tho the blood pours down around thy ankles
Freezing thy feet to the hard rock still thy pen obdurate        
Traces the wonders of Futurity in horrible fear of the future
I rage furious in the deep for lo my feet & hands are naild
To the hard rock or thou shouldst feel my enmity & hate
In all the diseases of man falling upon thy grey accursed front

Urizen answerd Read my books explore my Constellations 
Enquire of my Sons & they shall teach thee how to War
Enquire of my Daughters who accursd in the dark depths
Knead bread of Sorrow by my stern command for I am God
Of all this dreadful ruin   Rise O daughters at my Stern command

Rending the Rocks Eleth & Uveth rose & Ona rose       
Terrific with their iron vessels driving them across
In the dim air they took the book of iron & placd above
On clouds of death & sang their songs Kneading the bread of Orc
Orc listend to the song compelld hungring on the cold wind
That swaggd heavy with the accursed dough. the hoar frost ragd   
Thro Onas sieve   the torrent rain pourd from the iron pail
Of Eleth & the icy hands of Uveth kneaded the bread
The heavens bow with terror underneath their iron hands
Singing at their dire work the words of Urizens book of iron
While the enormous scrolls rolld dreadful in the heavens above   
And still the burden of their song in tears was poured forth
The bread is Kneaded let us rest O cruel father of children

But Urizen remitted not their labours upon his rock"

British museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
The image Blake chose for this page included a grieving figure, a fresh grave, a stone tablet (either of the law or a tombstone), and a wall or tomb separating the woman from the living. The figure reaching down to touch the woman points upward to an alternative experience. Options are available to the wretched conditions which man tolerates. Blake intended for his reader to confront the causes of fallenness in our world, but he intended also for man to search for the path that leads to Life.

Matthew 7
[14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Friday, September 4, 2015


                                                       Library of Congress Detail
                                                  Young's Night Thoughts Page 12
Engraving for book

The 133 pages of the Four Zoas manuscript have the dimensions of about 16 1/2 X 12 1/2 inches which was the size of the book Night Thoughts, published in 1795-6, which Blake was illustrating at the same time he worked on the Four Zoas. During 1795-7 Blake painted 537 watercolors for the publisher Richard Edwards to illustrate a new edition of Night Thoughts

When only one volume containing 43 engraved illustrations had been published, the project was terminated because of changed economic conditions. The 537 watercolors reside in the British Museum where they are available for viewing and downloading. The energy which might have gone into making engravings for more volumes of Night Thoughts was applied to honing the text of the Four Zoas: Blake's tale of the historical and spiritual evolution of man.

Blake found it convenient to reuse engraved proofs as paper on which he composed the Four Zoas. David Erdman tells us that 47 pages of the Four Zoas manuscript bear the engraved illustrations from Night Thoughts. Further inspection shows that it was more than a matter of convenience; there developed symbiosis between Blake illustrating Night Thoughts and composing passages in his poem. Throughout Blake's work we can see the interaction of images and ideas as they influence and are influenced by other works. As he wrote the Four Zoas he found that an image which he had already created related to the myth which was evolving in his poetry. By drawing into his epic the images from Night Thoughts, and applying imagery from the Four Zoas to his illustrations, Blake enhanced both works of art.
British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 77
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 77, (E 352)

                   Night the Seventh    

Then Urizen arose The Spectre fled & Tharmas fled
The darkning Spectre of Urthona hid beneath a rock
Tharmas threw his impetuous flight thro the deeps of immensity
Revolving round in whirlpools fierce all round the cavernd worlds

But Urizen silent descended to the Caves of Orc & saw 
A Cavernd Universe of flaming fire the horses of Urizen
Here bound to fiery mangers furious dash their golden hoofs
Striking fierce sparkles from their brazen fetters. fierce his lions 
Howl in the burning dens his tygers roam ill the redounding smoke
In forests of affliction. the adamantine scales of justice       
Consuming in the raging lamps of mercy pourd in rivers
The holy oil rages thro all the cavernd rocks   fierce flames
Dance on the rivers & the rocks howling & drunk with fury
The plow of ages & the golden harrow wade thro fields
Of goary blood the immortal seed is nourishd for the slaughter   
The bulls of Luvah breathing fire bellow on burning pastures
Round howling Orc whose awful limbs cast forth red smoke & fire
That Urizen approachd not near but took his seat on a rock
And rangd his books around him brooding Envious over Orc

Howling & rending his dark caves the awful Demon lay             
Pulse after pulse beat on his fetters pulse after pulse his spirit
Darted & darted higher & higher to the shrine of Enitharmon
As when the thunder folds himself in thickest clouds
The watry nations couch & hide in the profoundest deeps
Then bursting from his troubled head with terrible visages & flaming hair
His swift wingd daughters sweep across the vast black ocean

Los felt the Envy in his limbs like to a blighted tree"

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


A precis of the content of the Four Zoas is included in Blake's Poetry and Designs by Mary Lynn Johnson and John E Grant on pages 214-216:

"Though some of the same material also appears in Milton and Jerusalem, the poem Vala or the Four Zoas is an independently conceived work of quite different scope and purpose. It is an attempt to coordinate and extend the separate stories told in Blake's earlier books into one grand story of mankind, from his origins to the end of time. As in the earlier prophecies, the action seems to take place simultaneously within the consciousness of the human race over the course of history and within the mind of each individual during his lifetime. Organized into nine 'Nights' on the model of Young's Night Thoughts, it depicts the nightmare of a cosmic man, now fallen into disunity, who once embodied the divine and human, male and female, subject and object, mind and nature. The cause of the fall is man capitulation to his feminine portion, the deceptive goddess Vala, who represents Nature and the object of sexual desire. Her name and the veil she wears suggest the 'veil' of material appearances that obscures spiritual reality. As the counterpart or object of man's sexual and emotional needs, Vala has an essential role in life, but as the controller of man's total personality, or as an obsession, she causes ruin. Like the Lambeth books, Vala presents an effective myth of the fall of mankind, but the myth of his regeneration seems to have been as elusive for Blake as for other poets.

In the process of revising Vala and renaming it The Four Zoas, Blake named the man 'Albion' the traditional ancestor of England, and attributed his fall to a war among  his four primary attributes; at the same time he introduced the Christian theme of salvation as a possibility for Albion...

The resurrection is prophesied throughout The Four Zoas in intermittent accounts of the Eternity from which Albion had fallen. Eternity is a community of higher consciousness also called the Divine Humanity, and personified as Jesus...Eternity is the fullness of any one moment in Time which is entered into and 'opened by man's consciousness...In the ninth Night Albion is able to resume his life in Eternity; and once more the Zoas, with their Emanations, are subordinated to the total human personality and rejoin one another for the good of mankind as a whole." 

British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 120
Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 120, (E 389)
"The voices of children in my tents to cries of helpless infants
And all exiled from the face of light & shine of morning
In this dark world a narrow house I wander up & down
I hear Mystery howling in these flames of Consummation
When shall the Man of future times become as in days of old 
O weary life why sit I here & give up all my powers
To indolence to the night of death when indolence & mourning
Sit hovring over my dark threshold. tho I arise look out
And scorn the war within my members yet my heart is weak
And my head faint Yet will I look again unto the morning 
Whence is this sound of rage of Men drinking each others blood
Drunk with the smoking gore & red but not with nourishing wine

The Eternal Man sat on the Rocks & cried with awful voice

O Prince of Light where art thou   I behold thee not as once
In those Eternal fields in clouds of morning stepping forth 
With harps & songs where bright Ahania sang before thy face
And all thy sons & daughters gatherd round my ample table
See you not all this wracking furious confusion
Come forth from slumbers of thy cold abstraction come forth
Arise to Eternal births shake off thy cold repose 
Schoolmaster of souls great opposer of change arise
That the Eternal worlds may see thy face in peace & joy
That thou dread form of Certainty maist sit in town & village
While little children play around thy feet in gentle awe
Fearing thy frown loving thy smile O Urizen Prince of light 

He calld[;] the deep buried his voice & answer none returnd
Then wrath burst round the Eternal Man was wrath again he cried
Arise O stony form of death O dragon of the Deeps
Lie down before my feet O Dragon let Urizen arise
O how couldst thou deform those beautiful proportions 
Of life & person for as the Person so is his life proportiond
Let Luvah rage in the dark deep even to Consummation
For if thou feedest not his rage it will subside in peace

But if thou darest obstinate refuse my stern behest
Thy crown & scepter I will sieze & regulate all my members  
In stern severity & cast thee out into the indefinite
Where nothing lives, there to wander. & if thou returnst weary
Weeping at the threshold of Existence I will steel my heart
Against thee to Eternity & never recieve thee more
Thy self-destroying beast formd Science shall be thy eternal lot 
My anger against thee is greater than against this Luvah
For war is energy Enslavd but thy religion
The first author of this war & the distracting of honest minds
Into confused perturbation & strife & honour & pride
Is a deceit so detestable that I will cast thee out              
If thou repentest not & leave thee as a rotten branch to be burnd
With Mystery the Harlot & with Satan for Ever & Ever
Error can never be redeemd in all Eternity
But Sin Even Rahab is redeemd in blood & fury & jealousy
That line of blood that stretchd across the windows of the morning 
Redeemd from Errors power. Wake thou dragon of the Deeps"

The cry continued of the Eternal Man who has realized the depths to which he has fallen compared to his Eternal Home where he was surrounded by joy and peace and love. In his anguish he called upon Urizen to abandon his program which relied on turning the mind away from the world of humanity to the world of abstraction. Albion threatened to eliminate from his own mind the rational function if Urizen refused to relinquish his attempt to substitute his religion for the direct connection between God and Man. 
Urizen's error was incompatible with life in Eternity; the return of the Eternal Man to his unblemished self required that Urizen return to being the Prince of Light, servant of Humanity rather attempting to be the master.