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

Monday, February 8, 2016


Plate 4
Enlarged Segment

Blake lived through an age of revolution. He was 19 years old when the American colonies declared their independence from the British Empire. When he was 36 the French executed their monarch. He observed the cycle and consequences of revolution at home and abroad. Blake's character Orc was developed in response to his observation of actual revolution.
Blake's first mention of Orc by name is in the Preludium to America published in 1793. Orc is portrayed as having reached maturity, burst his bonds a restraint and exploded into Revolution

Yale Center for British Art
Copy A, Plate 18
To Blake Orc originated through Los and Enitharmon. Los personified the voice of prophecy which spoke God's word to an alienated world. Enitharmon represented the world to which the prophecy was spoken. Their child Orc choose to ally himself with Enitharmon and her world. Orc like his father sought change but he hadn't the self restraint of Los. Orc's revolutionary powers were pitted against Urizen's restrictive efforts to construct a world which could not accommodate the unpredictability of imagination. Orc, however, eventually submitted to Urizen's dictates. Allied with Urizen's life-denying thinking, Orc's emotion-driven activities degenerated into terrorism and anarchy.

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 12, Copy A
In Fearful Symmetry Northrop Frye states on page 217:
"Revolution attracts sympathy more because it is revolution than because of what it proposes to substitute... But as Orc stiffens into Urizen, it becomes manifest that the world is so constituted that no cause can triumph in it and still preserve its imaginative integrity. The imagination is mental, and never has a preponderance of physical force on its side."

Frye continues with this quote from Blake:

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 564) 
"The Whole Creation Groans to be deliverd there will always be as many Hypocrites born as Honest Men & they will always have superior Power in Mortal Things You cannot have Liberty in this World without what you call Moral Virtue & you cannot have Moral Virtue without the Slavery of that half of the Human Race who hate what you call Moral Virtue"

Paul had stated in the New Testament that we wait in hope for the ultimate transformation which will not come about by use of physical force.
Romans 8
[22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
[23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
[24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
[25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 3, Copy A

Four Zoas, Night V, Page 60, (E 340)
"Tharmas laid the Foundations & Los finishd it in howling woe 
 But when fourteen summers & winters had revolved over 
Their solemn habitation Los beheld the ruddy boy 
Embracing his bright mother & beheld malignant fires 
In his young eyes discerning plain that Orc plotted his death 
Grief rose upon his ruddy brows. a tightening girdle grew 
Around his bosom like a bloody cord. in secret sobs 
He burst it, but next morn another girdle succeeds 
Around his bosom.  Every day he viewd the fiery youth 
With silent fear & his immortal cheeks grew deadly pale 
Till many a morn & many a night passd over in dire woe 
Forming a girdle in the day & bursting it at night 
The girdle was formd by day by night was burst in twain 
Falling down on the rock an iron chain link by link lockd 
Enitharmon beheld the bloody chain of nights & days 
Depending from the bosom of Los & how with griding pain 
He went each morning to his labours. with the spectre dark 
Calld it the chain of jealousy. Now Los began to speak 
His woes aloud to Enitharmon. since he could not hide 
His uncouth plague. He siezd the boy in his immortal hands
While Enitharmon followd him weeping in dismal woe              
Up to the iron mountains top & there the Jealous chain
Fell from his bosom on the mountain. The Spectre dark
Held the fierce boy Los naild him down binding around his limbs
The accursed chain O how bright Enitharmon howld & cried
Over her son. Obdurate Los bound down her loved joy" 
Milton, Plate 18 [20], (E 111)
"Orc answerd. Take not the Human Form O loveliest. Take not
Terror upon thee! Behold how I am & tremble lest thou also
Consume in my Consummation; but thou maist take a Form
Female & lovely, that cannot consume in Mans consummation
Wherefore dost thou Create & Weave this Satan for a Covering[?]  
When thou attemptest to put on the Human Form, my wrath  
Burns to the top of heaven against thee in Jealousy & Fear.
Then I rend thee asunder, then I howl over thy clay & ashes
When wilt thou put on the Female Form as in times of old
With a Garment of Pity & Compassion like the Garment of God      
His garments are long sufferings for the Children of Men
Jerusalem is his Garment & not thy Covering Cherub O lovely
Shadow of my delight who wanderest seeking for the prey."

So spoke Orc when Oothoon & Leutha hoverd over his Couch"
Milton, Plate 29 [31], (E 127)
"But Rintrah & Palamabron govern over Day & Night
In Allamanda & Entuthon Benython where Souls wail:
Where Orc incessant howls burning in fires of Eternal Youth,
Within the vegetated mortal Nerves; for every Man born is joined 
Within into One mighty  Polypus, and this Polypus is Orc.

But in the Optic vegetative Nerves Sleep was transformed
To Death in old time by Satan the father of Sin & Death
And Satan is the Spectre of Orc & Orc is the generate Luvah"
Milton, Plate 40 [46], (E 141)
"I heard Ololon say to Milton

I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread
And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years.   
I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas;
The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving
In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies"

Northrop Frye, Fearful Symmetry on Page 218:
"Orc is completely bound to the cyclic wheel of life. He cannot represent an entry into the new world, but only the power of renewing an exhausted form of the old one."

Christopher Z Hobson
The Chained Boy: Orc and Blake's Idea of Revolution

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