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

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. 

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