Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blake's Furnaces II

You might want to look at Furnaces of Los. There's also a lot of data about Blake's furnaces in Damon pp 146ff.

Look now at the Blake Concordance. In Blake's Works it shows 168 occurrences:

8 of them are in America, Songs of Experience, Songs of Urizen, and
of Los. 20 are in The Four Zoas
14 are in Milton
115 of them are in Jerusalem

Looking at the early ones gives an idea of how the symbol was forming in young Blake's mind. Here's an extract from America showing the dragon form of Revolution:

A dragon form clashing his scales at midnight he arose, And flam'd red meteors round the land of Albion beneath[.]
His voice, his locks, his awful shoulders, and his glowing eyes,
PLATE 4 Appear to the Americans upon the cloudy night.Solemn heave the Atlantic waves between the gloomy nations,Swelling, belching from its deeps red clouds & raging Fires!
Albion is sick. America faints! enrag'd the Zenith grew.
As human blood shooting its veins all round the orbed heaven Red rose the clouds from the Atlantic in vast wheels of blood'And in the red clouds rose a Wonder o'er the Atlantic sea;
Intense! naked! a Human fire fierce glowing, as the wedge Of iron heated in the furnace; his terrible limbs were fire With myriads of cloudy terrors banners dark & towers Surrounded; heat but not light went thro' the murky atmosphere
The King of England looking westward trembles at the vision
" (America; Erdman 52-3)
In this entry the furnace looked like the Day of Judgement for the king. Or look at Daniel 3.

Blake, and many other Englishmen sympathized with America in this conflagration.

In the Book of Los we find the beginnings of a creative furnace:
4. Forgetfulness, dumbness, necessity!
In chains of the mind locked up,
Like fetters of ice shrinking together
Disorganiz'd, rent from Eternity,
Los beat on his fetters of iron;
And heated his furnaces & pour'd
Iron sodor and sodor of bras
(Erdman 75)

Moving on to the Four Zoas we find the furnaces of affliction to which Luvah was condemned (Reflect that the Savior appears in Blake's system as Luvah.). Erdman 317 shows furnaces 5 times:
"Luvah was cast into the Furnaces of affliction & sealed And Vala fed in cruel delight, the furnaces with fire
Stern Urizen beheld urg'd by necessity to keep The evil day afar, & if perchance with iron power
He might avert his own despair; in woe & fear he saw
Vala incircle round the furnaces where Luvah was clos'd
In joy she heard his howlings, & forgot he was her Luvah
With whom she walkd in bliss, in times of innocence & youth

In Night 4 we see Blake's evolving distinction between the furnaces of the fallen world (to wit Urizen's) and the creative furnaces of Los:

Four Zoas, Night IV, Page 52, (E 335)
Terrified Los beheld the ruins of Urizen beneath
A horrible Chaos to his eyes. a formless unmeasurable Death
Whirling up broken rocks on high into the dismal air
And fluctuating all beneath in Eddies of molten fluid

Then Los with terrible hands siezd on the Ruind Furnaces Of Urizen

Enormous work: he builded them anew
Labour of Ages in the Darkness & the war of Tharmas
And Los formd Anvils of Iron petrific. for his blows
Petrify with incessant beating many a rock. many a planet

Blake decided here, to a large degree, what meaning this awesome symbol would have in the two larger prophecies. There are furnaces of Destruction and furnaces of Creation.

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