Orginally posted by Larry in Oct 2011
This subject has come up over and over in our blog. You might like to look at some of the earlier ones, such as this one. I owe this material to John Middleton Murry's book, William Blake, with extensive quotations from the book, where he quotes from Night VII of The Four Zoas:
"Soon after the moment when, in Night VII, Los is united with the Spectre, 'by Divine Mercy inspired', gives him 'tasks enormous' to fulfill. The two and a half lines which tell of them are a later addition. Originally the lines ran:
[added lines inserted in bold]
Four Zoas , Night VII, Page 87 (E 368)
"But mingling together with his Spectre the Spectre of Urthona
Wondering beheld the Center opend by Divine Mercy inspiredThey Builded Golgonooza"
He in his turn Gave Tasks to Los Enormous to destroy
That body he created but in vain for Los performd
Wonders of labour
"The discarding of the previous version of Night VII, and the substitution for it of the Night which this union of Spectres is the culmination, marks the point of change in Blake's total conception of the work. This point of change is marked, psychologically and spiritually, by the union of the Spectre through Los's Self-annihilation; it is marked artistically and creatively, by the building of Golgonnoza. At some time not long afterwards Blake looked back, in the light of new experience and added two lines and a half [as shown above]."
"..the psychological meaning is, that by being reconciled to the Spectre within himself, by recognizing and receiving Urizen as a part of his own Self, Los/Blake attains a new understanding, a new synthesis (as we might call it today). Not, of course, an intellectual synthesis; but a real and decisive act of a new spiritual understanding, involving a revolution of the total man - an act of the Self-annihilation which is Imagination. Blake understands now that Urizen is not a separate, demonic power, from whose dominion Blake alone is free; he is in Blake himself, a necessary element of Blake's being."
This image is from Blake's poem, For The Sexes Gates of Paradise. The poem begins at Erdman 259; the Epilogue is pictured here:
"To The Accuser Who is
The God of This World
Truly My Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the Garment from the Man
Every Harlot was a Virgin once
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan
Tho thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine
Of Jesus & Jehovah thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill"
(The Spectre is not named,
but Blake is obviously pointing
to the Devil, Satan, and in this
case the personal Spectre.)