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

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"

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