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

Thursday, October 1, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 101
Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 101, (E 374)
"To the four winds hopeless of future. All futurity 
Seems teeming with Endless Destruction never to be repelld 
Desperate remorse swallows the present in a quenchless rage

When Urizen saw the Lamb of God clothed in Luvahs robes
Perplexd & terrifid he Stood tho well he knew that Orc
Was Luvah But he now beheld a new Luvah. Or One
Who assumed Luvahs form & stood before him opposite
But he saw Orc a Serpent form augmenting times on times
In the fierce battle & he saw the Lamb of God & the World of Los
Surrounded by his dark machines for Orc augmented swift
In fury a Serpent wondrous among the Constellations of Urizen
A crest of fire rose on his forehead red as the carbuncle
Beneath down to his eyelids scales of pearl then gold & silver 
Immingled with the ruby overspread his Visage down
His furious neck writ[h]ing contortive in dire budding pains
The scaly armour shot out. Stubborn down his back & bosom
The Emerald Onyx Sapphire jasper beryl amethyst
Strove in terrific emulation which should gain a place 
Upon the mighty Fiend the fruit of the mysterious tree   
Kneaded in Uveths kneading trough. Still Orc devourd the food
In raging hunger Still the pestilential food in gems & gold
Exuded round his awful limbs Stretching to serpent length
His human bulk While the dark shadowy female brooding over 
Measurd his food morning & evening in cups & baskets of iron

With tears of sorrow incessant she labourd the food of Orc
Compelld by the iron hearted sisters Daughters of Urizen
Gathring the fruit of that mysterious tree circling its root
She spread herself thro all the branches in the power of Orc 

Thus Urizen in self deci[e]t his warlike preparations fabricated
And when all things were finishd sudden wavd among the Stars    
His hurtling hand gave the dire signal thunderous Clarions blow
And all the hollow deep rebellowd with the wonderous war        

Terrified & astonishd Urizen beheld the battle take a form 
Which he intended not a Shadowy hermaphrodite black & opake
The Soldiers namd it Satan but he was yet unformd & vast
Hermaphroditic it at length became hiding the Male
Within as in a Tabernacle Abominable Deadly

The battle howls the terrors fird rage in the work of death
Enormous Works Los Contemplated inspird by the holy Spirit
Los builds the Walls of Golgonooza against the stirring battle 
That only thro the Gates of Death they can enter to Enitharmon
Raging they take the human visage & the human form

Feeling the hand of Los in Golgonooza & the force
Attractive of his hammers beating & the Silver looms
Of Enitharmon singing lulling cadences on the wind 
They humanize in the fierce battle where in direful pain
Troop by troop the beastial droves rend one another sounding loud
The instruments of sound & troop by troop in human forms they urge"

Wiki CommonsIllustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
On Page 101 of the Four Zoas Blake used the literal conditions of war which were experienced in Europe in 1804 as his metaphor for prelude to apocalypse. In this construction Britain was Urizen, France was Luvah. All Europe was being sucked into a conflict of greater proportions than anyone intended. The weapons devised exceeded in destructiveness any used to conduct war in the past. The haven of peace and love maintained by Los and Enitharmon in Golgonooza was surrounded by the machines of war.

David Erdman, who was uniquely qualified to explain Blake's writing in its historical setting, writes on page 400 of Prophet Against Empire:
"Hard it is for the prophet who sees rulers choosing apparently endless war. For a time 'Desperate remorse swallows the present in a quenchless rage'. The scope of preparation in 1804 did not suggest a short conflict. How long would it continue? Did it end in 1815 at Waterloo? Has it ended yet? Here was the great crisis of Blake's vision of history. How could he survive in the bleak concentration camp whose endless corridors he now began to pace? How long could he keep his 'quenchless rage' alive - or rather, how long his love: for that seemed to be the test, to continue to believe in brotherhood, which meant to fight in some way: how continue to love those who were dehumanized by Satan?"

Page 401 
"When the Republic of France became an aggressive Empire, it entered the state of Satan: 'When Luvah in Orc became a Serpent he descended into the state calld Satan.' Yet the people of France were not doomed, nor was France to be destroyed; rather it was to be pitied and protected in the womb of the future, for it had at least tried to fight for the future. In the City of Art a kind Enitharmon preserved 'her well beloved knowing that he was Orc's human remains She tenderly lovd him above all his brethern.' In his republican art Blake kept alive a warm sympathy for prodigal and errant France.

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