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

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.

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