Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Upper left section of Arlington Tempera as found on Myspace

The upper left area of the Arlington Tempera can represent the starting point in the cycle which is portrayed in the picture. Sitting in a chariot or on a throne is a figure who appears to be asleep. Behind him is a radiant sun. In Greek mythology the sun god is Apollo; the parallel in Blake's mythology is Urizen whom Damon calls the 'Charioteer of the material sun.'

To the right is a team of four horses under the precarious control of four maidens. Urizen is the 'limiter of Energy' as well as the 'Prince of Light' (Damon.) As Urizen falls asleep his horses are loosed to destroy the unity which is the condition of Eternity. Energy is released to become manifest in time and space. The section of the picture shone above captures the fire, light and activity of Eternity. Moving into time and space this energy will be contained and transformed.

Kathleen Raine in Blake and Tradition makes these comments on this section of the picture (Page 96):

"The god in the chariot of the sun is a strange figure. He appears to be intended to resemble the traditional Apollo, although he has no 'bow of burning gold' - and there is a striking resemblance to the figure of in God in the Job engravings, the fifth plate, 'Then went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord.' There the drowsy God is not actually sleeping, as he appears to be here; yet the symbolic event, though stated in other terms, is parallel. The separation of Satan (the Selfhood, as Blake invariably defines him) from God (the Divine Humanity) is about to initiate a cycle of Experience, a descent and return, in the suffering of Job, as is here symbolized by the voyage of Odysseus across the stormy sea of time and space, and his final home-coming. One thinks of the opening lines of The Gates of Paradise:
My Eternal Man set in Repose,
The Female from his darkness rose."

This description of the fall by Urizen in the Four Zoas presents images reminiscent of those in the portion of the Arlington Tempera shown above:

Four Zoas, Night V, Page 64, (E 343)
"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
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"

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