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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015




Book of Urizen: full page images of the Four Elements. 

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, THE KEYS, (E 268) 
2 Doubt Self Jealous Watry folly 
3 Struggling thro Earths Melancholy 
4 Naked in Air in Shame & Fear 
5 Blind in Fire with shield & spear 

Urizen's contribution was to 'divide the elements in finite bonds': to take the infinite archetypes and divide them into finite discrete entities which could be set against each other in warring factions.
Four Zoas, Night II, Page 30, (E 319)
"Then rose the Builders; First the Architect divine his plan
Unfolds, The wondrous scaffold reard all round the infinite
Quadrangular the building rose the heavens squared by a line.    
Trigon & cubes divide the elements in finite bonds
Multitudes without number work incessant: the hewn stone
Is placd in beds of mortar mingled with the ashes of Vala
Severe the labour, female slaves the mortar trod oppressed

Twelve halls after the names of his twelve sons composd          
The wondrous building & three Central Domes after the Names 
Of his three daughters were encompassd by the twelve bright halls
Every hall surrounded by bright Paradises of Delight
In which are towns & Cities Nations Seas Mountains & Rivers 
Each Dome opend toward four halls & the Three Domes Encompassd   
The Golden Hall of Urizen whose western side glowd bright 
With ever streaming fires beaming from his awful limbs
Tharmas realized the the infinite elements which served the living would be left 'a formless unmeasurable Death' if he departed and they were left without the spirits which animated them.

Four Zoas, Night IV, Page 52, (E 334) 
"I will compell thee to rebuild by these my furious waves
Death choose or life thou strugglest in my waters, now choose life
And all the Elements shall serve thee to their soothing flutes
Their sweet inspiriting lyres thy labours shall administer
And they to thee only remit not faint not thou my son            
Now thou dost know what tis to strive against the God of waters

So saying Tharmas on his furious chariots of the Deep
Departed far into the Unknown & left a wondrous void
Round Los. afar his waters bore on all sides round. with noise
Of wheels & horses hoofs & Trumpets Horns & Clarions   

Terrified Los beheld the ruins of Urizen beneath
A horrible Chaos to his eyes. a formless unmeasurable Death"
The 'shadowy semblance' of the detached elements seek existence in matter although they will suffer the pains of affliction common in the natural world.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 136, (E 404)
"Forsaken of their Elements they vanish & are no more
No more but a desire of Being a distracted ravening desire
Desiring like the hungry worm & like the gaping grave   
They plunge into the Elements the Elements cast them forth
Or else consume their shadowy semblance Yet they obstinate       
Tho pained to distraction Cry O let us Exist for
This dreadful Non Existence is worse than pains of Eternal Birth    
Eternal Death who can Endure. let us consume in fires
In waters stifling or in air corroding or in earth shut up
The Pangs of Eternal birth are better than the Pangs of Eternal Death   

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130)
"And all the Living Creatures of the Four Elements, wail'd
With bitter wailing: these in the aggregate are named Satan.
And Rahab: they know not of Regeneration, but only of Generation
The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements         
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife      
In Los's Halls continual labouring in the Furnaces of Golgonooza"
Blake states that the Four Zoas are the 'Four Eternal Senses of Man.' At the Eternal level Albion incorporates all of the created world; his senses are the Zoas. When Albion splits and falls the Eternal Senses become the Elements which are expressed as forces which are active in defining the natural world. The raw power of the elements breaks forth in the destruction of the Whirlwind, Flood, Earthquake and Fire. Milder but no less insidious formulations of the Elements are the Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii, unconscious instruments which instigate strife and war among political entities, whether they be families, religions, political parties, or nations. The elements have become the masters of man rather than his servants.

Mankind would like to be free from subjugation to the results of the conflicts manifesting in nature and politics, but the powers that sustain them go unrecognized. If we knew that we have Eternal Senses capable of enjoying the infinite and eternal panoply of the universe, we would relinquish our grip on the partial to perceive the whole.

Jerusalem, Plate 32 [36], (E 178) 
"And the Four Zoa's clouded rage East & West & North & South      
They change their situations, in the Universal Man.
Albion groans, he sees the Elements divide before his face.
And England who is Brittannia divided into Jerusalem & Vala
And Urizen assumes the East, Luvah assumes the South
In his dark Spectre ravening from his open Sepulcher             

And the Four Zoa's who are the Four Eternal Senses of Man
Became Four Elements separating from the Limbs of Albion
These are their names in the Vegetative Generation
[West Weighing East & North dividing Generation South
And Accident & Chance were found hidden in Length Bredth & Highth
And they divided into Four ravening deathlike Forms
Fairies & Genii & Nymphs & Gnomes of the Elements.
These are States Permanently Fixed by the Divine Power

The Atlantic Continent sunk round Albions cliffy shore
And the Sea poured in amain upon the Giants of Albion      
As Los bended the Senses of Reuben Reuben is Merlin
Exploring the Three States of Ulro; Creation; Redemption. & Judgment

And many of the Eternal Ones laughed after their manner"

Friday, December 25, 2015


The fall of Urizen 
British Museum
Book of Urizen
Copy B, Plate 8
Although Blake created multiple images of Urizen, he often represented him as a bearded, white haired old man. To see the younger, unfallen Urizen we must refer to the portrayals of the element Air in the Gates of Paradise and in the Book of Urizen.

The first mentions of Urizen are in Visions of Daughters of Albion, America, and Europe. The First Book of Urizen is devoted to a struggle between Los and Urizen which results in mankind being "bound down to earth by their narrowing perceptions."

The Publishers Note in Dover Publications' Book of Urizen states:
"The Book of Urizen recounts the creation of the world and of mankind and explains man's fall from unity with the spiritual and the eternal to a state of dualistic isolation in a merely 
materialistic reality."
British Museum
Book of Urizen
Copy B, Plate 8

British Museum
Book of Urizen
Copy D, Plate 20
This image of Urizen printed on a separate page bears the inscription, "Frozen doors to mock The World: while they within torments uplock." Erdman's comment on this inscription is that Urizen's chains forged by his own mind to mock the world instead lock him into his own torments. (The Illuminated Blake

America, Plate 8, (E 54)
"The terror answerd: I am Orc, wreath'd round the accursed tree: 
The times are ended; shadows pass the morning gins to break; 
The fiery joy, that Urizen perverted to ten commands, 
What night he led the starry hosts thro' the wide wilderness:" 

Wikipedia Commons
Copy A, Plate 10

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 5, (E 48) 

"But when the morn arose, her lamentation renewd, 
The Daughters of Albion hear her woes, & eccho back her sighs. 
 O Urizen! Creator of men! Mistaken Demon of heaven: 
Thy joys are tears! thy labour vain, to form men to thine image. 
How can one joy absorb another? are not different joys 
Holy, eternal, infinite! and each joy is a Love."  

 Four Zoas, Night V, PAGE 65, (E 344) 
"Thy pure feet stepd on the steps divine. too pure for other feet
And thy fair locks shadowd thine eyes from the divine effulgence
Then thou didst keep with Strong Urthona the living gates of heaven
But now thou art bound down with him even to the gates of hell

Because thou gavest Urizen the wine of the Almighty             
For steeds of Light that they might run in thy golden chariot of pride
I gave to thee the Steeds   I pourd the stolen wine 
And drunken with the immortal draught fell from my throne sublime

I will arise Explore these dens & find that deep pulsation
That shakes my caverns with strong shudders. perhaps this is the night
Of Prophecy & Luvah hath burst his way from Enitharmon
When Thought is closd in Caves. Then love shall shew its root in deepest Hell"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 120, (E 389)
"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" 

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 122, (E 391)
"Urizen Said. I have Erred & my Error remains with me
What Chain encompasses in what Lock is the river of light confind
That issues forth in the morning by measure & the evening by carefulness
Where shall we take our stand to view the infinite & unbounded
Or where are human feet for Lo our eyes are in the heavens   

He ceasd for rivn link from link the bursting Universe explodes
All things reversd flew from their centers rattling bones
To bones join, shaking convulsd the shivering clay breathes
Each speck of dust to the Earths center nestles round & round
In pangs of an Eternal Birth in torment & awe & fear"

Milton, Plate 18 [20], (E 112)
"Urizen emerged from his Rocky Form & from his Snows,
Plate 19 [21]
And he also darkend his brows: freezing dark rocks between
The footsteps. and infixing deep the feet in marble beds:
That Milton labourd with his journey, & his feet bled sore
Upon the clay now chang'd to marble; also Urizen rose,
And met him on the shores of Arnon; & by the streams of the brooks    

Silent they met, and silent strove among the streams, of Arnon
Even to Mahanaim, when with cold hand Urizen stoop'd down
And took up water from the river Jordan: pouring on
To Miltons brain the icy fluid from his broad cold palm.
But Milton took of the red clay of Succoth, moulding it with care
Between his palms: and filling up the furrows of many years
Beginning at the feet of Urizen, and on the bones
Creating new flesh on the Demon cold, and building him,
As with new clay a Human form in the Valley of Beth Peor."
Library of Congress
Copy D, Plate 45
Having been transformed by his encounter with Milton, Urizen casts off his Selfhood and is given a human form. A subdued Urizen is shown on Plate 45 of Milton.

Read the Book of Urizen on the website of  University of Adelaide.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Copy C, Plate 22
On Plate 22 of the Book of Urizen which pictured all four of the elements, Blake gave us clues to how the Zoas were developing in his imagination. In copy C we see the most striking image of fire because of the coloring Blake chose. Of the four elements fire is one which is most active. It is unpredictable, capable of bringing about dramatic change, and it provides creative and destructive possibilities.

By associating Fire with the Zoa Luvah, Blake indicated the hazardous nature of his Zoa of emotion.

Milton Percival, in Blake's Circle of Destiny, introduces us to the Eternal Luvah who practices the joys of forgiveness, love and delight:
"For the moon of love signifies forgiveness of sin, the constant fulfilment of the religion of Jesus. No matter what mistakes may be committed, no matter how distraught the world may be, the solution of the problem, though unapparent to the mind at present, will eventually be found if only the emotions remain forgiving. For this reason Luvah shares with Urthona, another of the Zoas, the distinction of being a keeper of the gates of heaven.
'Mutual Forgiveness of each Vice Such are the Gates of Paradise'   

But Luvah is more than forgiveness. He is the whole gamut of the emotions, especially the active emotions as opposed to the passive ones personified in Vala, his Emanation. Conspicuous among the active emotions is 'eternal delight' which Blake associated with energy. In his unfallen state, when energy was not yet restrained, Luvah is that delight - the characteristic Blakean joy that springs from a believing head, a loving heart, a creative imagination, and open vigorous senses. Therefore he is the cupbearer, serving the golden wine around the eternal tables." (Page 29)
Wikimedia Commons    Marriage of Heaven & Hell
Plate 5

In his Eternal guise Luvah was privileged to be the cup bearer of the Eternals, and with Urthona was keeper of the gates of Heaven. But Luvah fell from his lofty height when he and Urizen plotted to change the arrangement of the psychological functions. This image from Marriage of Heaven & Hell portrays a fall of a man and his energies; his horse and his sword descend into the fiery excess of passion. We read about such a fall in the Four Zoas.

Four Zoas, Night V, Page 64, (E 344)
[Urizen speaks] 
"I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice
Saying O light spring up & shine & I sprang up from the deep  
He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown
& said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean       

I went not forth. I hid myself in black clouds of my wrath       
I calld the stars around my feet in the night of councils dark
The stars threw down their spears & fled naked away
We fell. I siezd thee dark Urthona In my left hand falling

I siezd thee beauteous Luvah thou art faded like a flower
And like a lilly is thy wife Vala witherd by winds               
When thou didst bear the golden cup at the immortal tables
Thy children smote their fiery wings crownd with the gold of heaven
PAGE 65 
Thy pure feet stepd on the steps divine. too pure for other feet
And thy fair locks shadowd thine eyes from the divine effulgence
Then thou didst keep with Strong Urthona the living gates of heaven
But now thou art bound down with him even to the gates of hell

Because thou gavest Urizen the wine of the Almighty             
For steeds of Light that they might run in thy golden chariot of pride
I gave to thee the Steeds   I pourd the stolen wine
And drunken with the immortal draught fell from my throne sublime"
The high regard which Blake held for the passions is revealed in this passage: 

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 564)
"Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have
governd their Passions or have No Passions but because
they have Cultivated their Understandings.  The Treasures of
Heaven are not Negations of Passion but Realities of Intellect
from which All the Passions Emanate in their Eternal
Glory   The Fool shall not enter into Heaven let him be ever so
Holy.  Holiness is not The Price of Enterance into Heaven Those
who are cast out Are All Those who having no Passions of their
own because No Intellect.  Have spent their lives in Curbing &
Governing other Peoples by the Various arts of Poverty & Cruelty
of all kinds   Wo Wo Wo to you Hypocrites" 

Each of the Zoas was associated with a World in which his dominant principles were held. Luvah's World was Beulah which Damon tells us, was created by the Lamb 'as a refuge from the gigantic warfare of ideas in Eternity.' The gentle emotions of 'love & pity & sweet compassion' were the healing balm in Beulah for the exhausted, weak and terrified.     

Milton, Plate 30 [33], (E 129)
"Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity; appearing
To the Inhabitants of Eden, around them on all sides.
But Beulah to its Inhabitants appears within each district       
As the beloved infant in his mothers bosom round incircled
With arms of love & pity & sweet compassion. But to
The Sons of Eden the moony habitations of Beulah,
Are from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant Rest."

The images of Fire which Blake engraved for the two versions of Gates of Paradise (For Children, and For the Sexes) show that he trusted emotions less as he aged because they 'end in endless strife.'

British Museum
For The Sexes: The Gates of Paradise
Copy B, Plate 9

British Museum   
For Children: The Gates of Paradise
Copy B, Plate 7

Saturday, December 19, 2015


In the post Urthona we saw that Blake created an image in the Book of Urizen which portrayed the four Elements as four faces of man. Blake reused the same copper plate to make modified images. The man emerging from the depths of a dark body of water later was pictured in an engraving in which he was alone. In the Small Book of Designs which he printed for his friend Ozias Humphery, Blake included this image which was a prototype for the Zoa Tharmas immersed in the water of materiality. 
British Museum
Small Book of Designs
The terms most closely associated with Tharmas are water, the body, the senses, and the Sea of Time and Space. The First Night of the Four Zoas gives an account of the fall of Tharmas which initiated the disintegration of the unified psyche. When Enion, the emanation of Tharmas, fled or was cast out, the implicit connection between the Eternal and the temporal was broken. As the Parent Power Tharmas is the source of life and the energy which sustains it.

Four Zoas, Night I, PAGE 4, (E 301)
"In Eden; in the Auricular Nerves of Human life
Which is the Earth of Eden, he his Emanations propagated
Fairies of Albion afterwards Gods of the Heathen, Daughter of Beulah Sing
His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his Regeneration 
   by the Resurrection from the dead 

Begin with Tharmas Parent power. darkning in the West

Lost! Lost! Lost! are my Emanations      Enion O Enion
We are become a Victim to the Living We hide in secret 
I have hidden Jerusalem in Silent Contrition    O Pity Me 
I will build thee a Labyrinth also O pity me    O Enion   
Why hast thou taken sweet Jerusalem from my inmost Soul   
Let her Lay secret in the Soft recess of darkness & silence
It is not Love I bear to [Jerusalem] It is Pity      
She hath taken refuge in my bosom & I cannot cast her out.

The Men have recieved their death wounds & their Emanations are fled 
To me for refuge & I cannot turn them out for Pitys sake

Enion said--Thy fear has made me tremble thy terrors have surrounded me
All Love is lost Terror succeeds & Hatred instead of Love
And stern demands of Right & Duty instead of Liberty.
Once thou wast to Me the loveliest son of heaven--But now        
Why art thou Terrible and yet I love thee in thy terror till
I am almost Extinct & soon shall be a Shadow in Oblivion
Unless some way can be found that I may look upon thee & live
Hide me some Shadowy semblance. secret whispring in my Ear
In secret of soft wings. in mazes of delusive beauty             
I have lookd into the secret soul of him I lovd
And in the Dark recesses found Sin & cannot return

Trembling & pale sat Tharmas weeping in his clouds"
British Museum
Gates of Paradise
Copy B, Plate 6
Blake's image of Water in Gates of Paradise presents a picture of a man sitting in the rain and mournfully looking down into a body of water, feeling the same regret which Tharmas felt over the transition to the world of matter when he turned the Circle of Destiny.

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 5, (E 302)
"Tharmas groand among his Clouds 

Weeping, then bending from his Clouds he stoopd his innocent head
And stretching out his holy hand in the vast Deep sublime 

Turnd round the circle of Destiny with tears & bitter sighs 
And said. Return O Wanderer when the Day of Clouds is oer"

Wikipedia Commons
Book of Urizen
Plate 4
Although Tharmas is never named in the Book of Urizen, his presence is discernable. On Plate 4 we see an agonized figure sitting in water and showered by rain. On Page 5 we read of the ocean of voidness which appeared when Eternity was sundered.
Book of Urizen, Plate 5, (E 72)
"In living creations appear'd   
In the flames of eternal fury. 

3. Sund'ring, dark'ning, thund'ring!
Rent away with a terrible crash
Eternity roll'd wide apart                                       

Wide asunder rolling
Mountainous all around
Departing; departing; departing:
Leaving ruinous fragments of life
Hanging frowning cliffs & all between                            
An ocean of voidness unfathomable."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Perhaps Blake didn't intend to produce a visual image of Urthona because he is invisible to natural sight. Although spiritual sight may be in touch with him, he would not leave a visual image which fathomed his identity. Like a person who does not want to be photographed, he left only images which were unclear or contain limited information.
Wikipedia Commons
Book of Urizen
Plate 24

First we look at an image of four beings whom some identify as Sons of Urizen, the Zoa whose command of thought allowed for differentiation of forms. Blake was clearly portraying manifestations of the four elements wearing the garments of humans but acting out forces which are in control of the natural world. They are identified as fire, air, earth and water. The element associated with Urthona, whose home is underground, is seen emerging from the earth with the look of dismay. He is a powerful figure staring in wonder at an unknown world. 

An image in the Book Of Los shows only the backside of a figure whom we can see as Urthona. Similarly Jehovah showed only his backside to Moses.

Wikipedia Commons Book of Los Plate 2
Exodus 33
[17] And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
[18] And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
[19] And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
[20] And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
[21] And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
[22] And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
[23] And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. 
British Museum   Gates of Paradise
Copy B, plate 7

In Gates of Paradise Earth is viewed from the front but confined again in a rocky enclosure. As Blake's label states he 'Struggles into Life.' Urthona's struggle is to be made known. Unless he is recognized and given expression he remains an unconscious potential trapped in a cave without exit. In Blake's myth Urthona stays hidden but produces a form which is active in our world. Los is the 'vehicular form' of Urthona and his work is to make the Eternal world visible to Man.
Jerusalem, Plate 53, (E 202) 
"But Los, who is the Vehicular Form of strong Urthona
Wept vehemently over Albion where Thames currents spring
From the rivers of Beulah; pleasant river! soft, mild, parent stream
And the roots of Albions Tree enterd the Soul of Los
As he sat before his Furnaces clothed in sackcloth of hair       
In gnawing pain dividing him from his Emanation;
Inclosing all the Children of Los time after time.
Their Giant forms condensing into Nations & Peoples & Tongues
Translucent the Furnaces, of Beryll & Emerald immortal:
And Seven-fold each within other: incomprehensible               
To the Vegetated Mortal Eye's perverted & single vision
The Bellows are the Animal Lungs. the hammers, the Animal Heart
The Furnaces, the Stomach for Digestion; terrible their fury
Like seven burning heavens rang'd from South to North
Here on the banks of the Thames, Los builded Golgonooza,   
Outside of the Gates of the Human Heart, beneath Beulah
In the midst of the rocks of the Altars of Albion. In fears
He builded it, in rage & in fury. It is the Spiritual Fourfold
London: continually building & continually decaying desolate!
In eternal labours: loud the Furnaces & loud the Anvils          
Of Death thunder incessant around the flaming Couches of
The Twentyfour Friends of Albion and round the awful Four
For the protection of the Twelve Emanations of Albions Sons
The Mystic Union of the Emanation in the Lord; Because   
Man divided from his Emanation is a dark Spectre                 
His Emanation is an ever-weeping melancholy Shadow
But she is made receptive of Generation thro' mercy
In the Potters  Furnace, among the Funeral Urns of Beulah
From Surrey hills, thro' Italy and Greece, to Hinnoms vale."

Monday, December 14, 2015


Blake was unusual in that he approached his work from the perspective of both verbal and visual communication. The two art forms stimulated different areas of understanding and enhanced the completeness of the meaning transmitted.   

This blog will turn now to looking at visual images of the characters in Blake's myth. Blake was generous in providing images along with his text but he was stingy in providing identification of what he was representing. Although each reader/viewer must respond in his own way to what he reads/sees, we benefit from one another's perceptions. Perhaps by focusing on a specific image associated with each Zoa and Emanation, I will provide a family portrait showing how disparate entities can be fitted together.

Yale Center for British Art   Jerusalem
Copy E, Plate 92
This image from Jerusalem incorporates Jerusalem surrounded by partially buried heads of the the Four Zoas. As mental constructs the Zoas work underground and become recognized in the outer world as activities we experience in our passage through life. In this image Jerusalem is the drawing together of all of the Emanations as a manifest expression of Man's underlying Humanity.  

W. P. Witcutt's book, Blake: A Psychological Study gives this introduction to his views on 'Blake's interior universe:'

"The chief figures of Blake's interior universe were four daemons or gods he called Los or Urthona, Urizen, Luvah or Orc, and Tharmas. Blake was quite aware that his epics were about what we now call psychological states and that the demonic figures which inhabited them were fragments of the personality. He tells us plainly that Urizen is thought, Luvah love, and Los 'Prophecy.' To the man of dominant reason it may seem strange that these abstractions (as they appear to him) should be clothed with personalities and names; but this is how they appear to all of us in dreams. But not only in dreams. Blake's Four Zoas appear quite frequently in literature, particularly in the novel...The novel is our modern form or myth." ( Page 30)

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 3, (E 300)
"Four Mighty Ones are in every Man; a Perfect Unity                   
Cannot Exist. but from the Universal Brotherhood of Eden"                 

Jerusalem, Plate 98, (E 257)
"And every Man stood Fourfold, each Four Faces had. One to the West
One toward the East One to the South One to the North. the Horses Fourfold
And the dim Chaos brightend beneath, above, around! Eyed as the Peacock
According to the Human Nerves of Sensation, the Four Rivers of the Water of Life

South stood the Nerves of the Eye. East in Rivers of bliss the Nerves of the
Expansive Nostrils West, flowd the Parent Sense the Tongue. North stood
The labyrinthine Ear. Circumscribing & Circumcising the excrementitious
Husk & Covering into Vacuum evaporating revealing the lineaments of Man
Driving outward the Body of Death in an Eternal Death & Resurrection   
Awaking it to Life among the Flowers of Beulah rejoicing in Unity
In the Four Senses in the Outline the Circumference & Form, for ever
In Forgiveness of Sins which is Self Annihilation. it is the Covenant of Jehovah

The Four Living Creatures Chariots of Humanity Divine Incomprehensible
In beautiful Paradises expand These are the Four Rivers of Paradise   
And the Four Faces of Humanity fronting the Four Cardinal Points
Of Heaven going forward forward irresistible from Eternity to Eternity

And they conversed together in Visionary forms dramatic which bright
Redounded from their Tongues in thunderous majesty, in Visions

In new Expanses, creating exemplars of Memory and of Intellect  
Creating Space, Creating Time according to the wonders Divine
Of Human Imagination, throughout all the Three Regions immense
Of Childhood, Manhood & Old Age[;] & the all tremendous unfathomable Non Ens
Of Death was seen in regenerations terrific or complacent varying
According to the subject of discourse & every Word & Every Character
Was Human according to the Expansion or Contraction, the Translucence or
Opakeness of Nervous fibres such was the variation of Time & Space
Which vary according as the Organs of Perception vary & they walked
To & fro in Eternity as One Man reflecting each in each & clearly seen
And seeing: according to fitness & order. And I heard Jehovah speak 
Terrific from his Holy Place & saw the Words of the Mutual Covenant Divine"

The Mutual Covenant:

Leviticus 26
[12] And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.


Friday, December 11, 2015


 Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 139, (E 407) 
 "The Sun arises from his dewy bed & the fresh airs
 Play in his smiling beams giving the seeds of life to grow 
 And the fresh Earth beams forth ten thousand thousand springs of life
 Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now
 Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los
 Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
 Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
 In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
 For intellectual War The war of swords departed now 
 The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns 
                      End of The Dream"

Blake saw human development as process not product. The Four Zoas was intended not to delineate the Man who has been transformed, but to demonstrate the process through which Man goes to arrive at transformation. The unified status which he attained was not a permanent condition but a jumping off point for continued differentiation and integration. The tools which had served Man in his earth-bound life had been war and religion through which he had hammered out his existence in a natural world of limitations and uncertainties. With no further need to be in conflict within himself Man turns to his inner resources to guide his further progress.

Growing seeds, flowing springs, and ruined walls made possible a new paradigm to represent the activity of the New Man: Intellectual War supported by 'the golden armour of science' growing out of intuition and imagination supplied by Urthona.        

The images which Blake choose to structure the progress of Man through life are set forth in this passage from Frye's Fearful Symmetry. Frye traces stages of developmental potential through the the vegetative seed, to the mammalian embryo, to the oviparous egg. In this illustration for Milton's On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, we notice in the foreground a female figure lying in the snow. Blake was calling to our minds Vala as an image of the natural world where the seed contains the potential for development. In the center of the picture is an enclosed space in which the holy family rejoices in the arrival of new life. The enclosure is the womb in which the new man is nurtured until he is born of the spirit. The winged being in the arc of a rainbow partakes of the Dove of the Spirit which has been released from the egg of mortality.

Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations to Milton's On the Morning of Christ's Nativity
Butts Set, Page 1

Northrop Frye:
"The natural man is, speaking in terms of conscious vision, an imaginative seed. Just as a seed is a dry sealed packet of solid 'matter,' so the natural mind is a tight skull-bound shell of abstract ideas. And just as a seed is surrounded by a dark world which we see as an underworld, so the physical universe, which surrounds the natural man on all sides, and is dark in the sense that he cannot see its extent, is the underworld of the mind, the den of Urthona, the cave of Plato's Republic. The majority of seeds in nature die as seeds, and in human life all natural men, all the timid, all the stupid, all the evil, remain in the starlit cavern of the fallen mind, hibernating in the dormant winter night of time. They are embryos of life only, infertile seeds, and die within the seed world. The possibility of life within them remains in the embryonic form of abstract ideas, shadows and dreams. Some of the dreams are troubled visions of the real world of awakened consciousness; others are the nightmares of paralyzing horror which all minds in a stupor of inertia are prone to. Here or there a seed puts out a sprout into the real world, and when it does so it escapes from the darkness of burial into the real world into the light of immortality. Such a seed would only have begun its development, for the vegetable life is not the most highly organized form of life, because it is till bound to nature. The animal symbolizes a higher stage of development by breaking its navel-string, and this earth-bound freedom of movement is represented in our present physical level.

The bird is not a higher form of imagination than we are, but its ability to fly symbolizes one, and men usually assign wings to what they visualize as superior forms of human existence. In this symbolism the corresponding image of nature would be neither the seed-bed of the plant nor the suckling mother of the mammal, but the egg, which has been used as a symbol of the physical universe from the most ancient times. We think of the cosmic egg chiefly in connection of the Gnostic or Orphic imagery, but the account of creation in Genesis as a watery chaos surrounded by the shell of 'firmament,' which the Spirit of God, later visualized as a dove, broods upon and brings to life, also has oviparous overtones. In Blake the firmament is the mundane shell, the indefinite circumference of the physical world through which the mind crashes on its winged assent to reality."
(Page 347-8)


Sunday, December 6, 2015


We have reached the end once again of the Four Zoas having commented on additional pages from Night IX. Perhaps the final page will strike more chords in the music played by the heavenly orchestra since you have read of the resolution of the Zoas and their Emanations. Perhaps the Bread of Life and the Wine of Eternity will be more available having followed the milling of the grain and the crushing of the grapes. If Blake's words and images have entered deep within your psyche they will remain with you to be retrieved at appropriate times as you travel your Spiritual Journey.
Reposted from August 21, 2015
British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 139
 Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 139, (E 407)  
"The Sun arises from his dewy bed & the fresh airs
Play in his smiling beams giving the seeds of life to grow
And the fresh Earth beams forth ten thousand thousand springs of life
Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now
Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los                
Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns           

                  End of The Dream"
The final page of the Four Zoas is a response to early lines in Blake's poem where he declared his intention of giving an account of the Zoa named Urthona: 
"His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead"  
The Element of Urthona is the Earth which we call our home. Blake begins and ends his poem with the Earth which is the site in which transformation must be revealed. Within the psyche of man, Urthona dwells in the Unconscious to which man turns to touch his Eternal nature. It is through Urthona that man exercises his spiritual perception and discerns vision. Through Urthona man is connected to the Eternal; not by reason, sensation or emotion but by intuition.

The dark religions which have departed are religions which were provided by the Eyes of God so that man may not fall into the abyss. There is not longer need for a religion of human sacrifice, vengeance, moral law, rationalism or a distant God reigning in the sky. Man's awareness of God residing within his own Soul is all the religion he needs. Blake's 'Sweet Science' will reign because man is able to behold everything as holy.  

Four Zoas, Page 3, Night I, (E 301) 
"Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth
Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night                 
Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name
PAGE 4,       
In Eden; in the Auricular Nerves of Human life
Which is the Earth of Eden, he his Emanations propagated
Fairies of Albion afterwards Gods of the Heathen, Daughter of Beulah Sing
His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead"
Some complain that Blake did not make it clear how the transformation from the fallen world to the unfallen world took place. The change took place in increments and could have been interrupted by a misstep at any point. But the process continued until suddenly mankind had left behind his old self and acquired a new vision, a new power, and a new image of himself and his world.
This passage from Northrop Frye's Fearful Symmetry may clarify the process through which man attains higher consciousness:

Page 259 -260
"Man stands at the level of conscious life: immediately in front of him is the power to visualize the eternal city and garden he is trying to regain; immediately behind him is an unconscious, involuntary and cyclic energy, much of which still goes on inside of his own body. Man is therefore a Luvah or form of life subject to two inpulses, one the prophetic impulse leading him forward to vision, the other the natural impulse which drags him back to unconsciousness and finally to death.
The imagination says that man is not chain-bound but muscle-bound; that he is born alive and everywhere dying in sleep; and that when the conscious imagination in man perfects the vision of the world of consciousness, at that point man's eyes will necessarily be open.
Every advance of truth forces error to consolidate itself in a more obviously erroneous form, and every advance of freedom has the same effect on tyranny. Thus history exhibits a series of crises in which a sudden flash of imaginative vision (as in the French Revolution) bursts out is counteracted by a more ruthless defense of the status quo, and subsides again. The evolution come in the fact that the opposition grows sharper each time, and will one day present a clear-cut alternative of eternal life or extermination."

Renewed Albion.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Continuation of Works of Urthona
Blake presented the culmination of the Four Zoas at multiple levels or from varied perspectives. We looked at page 138 as Blake represented the reassembling of the Ancient man from divided Zoas which has assumed independent functioning when man fell from his original condition. Urthona and Tharmas, working together in Man's unconscious mind, were cooperating to provide the Bread and Wine which would sustain the unified Divine Humanity.
Blake inserted the following lines to portray Man in his glory as he was restored to wholeness. As man recovered, his world recovered also. Man and Nature interacted as reflections of each other, each giving and receiving, transforming and being transformed. Because the accident has been incinerated in the furnace of experience, the essence was released to walk into the unchanging but dynamic world of Eternity.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 138, (E 406)
"The Sun has left his blackness & has found a fresher morning     
And the mild moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night 
And Man walks forth from midst of the fires the evil is all consumd
His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night & day
The stars consumd like a lamp blown out & in their stead behold
The Expanding Eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds 
One Earth one sea beneath nor Erring Globes wander but Stars
Of fire rise up nightly from the Ocean & one Sun
Each morning like a New born Man issues with songs & Joy
Calling the Plowman to his Labour & the Shepherd to his rest
He walks upon the Eternal Mountains raising his heavenly voice   
Conversing with the Animal forms of wisdom night & day
That risen from the Sea of fire renewd walk oer the Earth

For Tharmas brought his flocks upon the hills & in the Vales
Around the Eternal Mans bright tent the little Children play
Among the wooly flocks The hammer of Urthona sounds              
In the deep caves beneath his limbs renewd his Lions roar
Around the Furnaces & in Evening sport upon the plains
They raise their faces from the Earth conversing with the Man

How is it we have walkd thro fires & yet are not consumd
How is it that all things are changd even as in ancient times"
When he illustrated Milton's L'Allegro, Blake provided a picture which echoes the poetic image of the New Born Man in the fresher morn of a sun restored to its original splendor. The archetypal themes running through the body of Blake's work motivate us to find enhancements to his symbols in unexpected places.

Wikimedia Commons
Morgan Library
Blake's Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro 
'The Sun at His Eastern Gate'