Library of Congress Detail
Young's Night Thoughts Page 12Engraving for book
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.
Four Zoas Manuscript
"VALA 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"