Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blake's Furnaces

Blake’s Furnaces
Daniel 1-3, especially 3:25:
“ He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Blake learned a lot in his earliest reading in the Book of Daniel:  the cost of faithfulness in the face of worldly gods is very high, but in the midst of the time that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo spent in the fiery furnace a fourth “like the Son of God” appeared with them. That idea pervades Blake’s myth.

In the Book of Los Blake described the creation of humans, and then:
“Los astonish'd and terrified, built            
Furnaces; he formed an Anvil
A  Hammer of adamant then began
The binding of Urizen day and night” 
(Erdman 94)

His purpose was to ‘bind Urizen’ and his laws, which have bound Man in a restrictive, fearful existence.


Being multitudes of tyrant Men in union blasphemous
Against the divine image. Congregated Assemblies of wicked men

Los said to Enitbarmon Pitying I saw
Pitying the Lamb of God Descended thro Jerusalems gates
To put off Mystery time after time & as a Man
Is born on Earth so was he born of Fair Jerusalem
In mysterys woven mantle & in the Robes of Luvah

He stood in fair Jerusalem to awake up into Eden
The fallen Man but first to Give his vegetated body            
To be cut off & separated that the Spiritual body may be Reveald
 (Erdman 378; the 8th Night of The Four Zoas)

As well as biblical sources Blake used images from the Industrial Revolution:

Plate 6

The Surrey hills glow like the clinkers of the furnace: Lambeths
Where Jerusalems foundations began; where they were laid in ruins

Where they were laid in ruins from every Nation & Oak Groves

Dark gleams before the Furnace-mouth a heap of burning ashes
When shall Jerusalem return & overspread all the Nations
Return: return to Lambeths Vale O building of human souls
Thence stony Druid Temples overspread the Island white      
And thence from Jerusalems ruins.. from her walls of salvation

(Erdman  99-100)

The picture shows Los holding his hammer leaning on the anvil and staring up into the furnace, which is presided over by the Spectre.

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