|Wikipedia Commons |
Book of Urizen
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|
 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.
 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
 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.
 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
 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:
 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."