Tuesday, September 11, 2012



 The word strongly suggests reason, the primary quality of Urizen. Blake felt that the
hegemony of rational thinking since The Enlightenment had had a stultifying and
destructive influence on the British culture. He chose Bacon, Newton and Locke to
epitomize that destructive influence. He chose Urizen to exemplify it in his myth.

At the final consummation Blake rehabilitated Bacon, Newton and Locke. They
appeared counterbalancing Blake's three great poets: Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer.

The Druid Spectre was Annihilate loud thundring rejoicing terrific vanishing
J98.7; E257|

Fourfold Annihilation & at the clangor of the Arrows of Intellect J98.8; E257| The
innumerable Chariots of the Almighty appeard in Heaven J98.9; E257| And Bacon
& Newton & Locke, & Milton & Shakspear & Chauce
(Jerusalem 98: 6-9 [257])

In Night II of The Four Zoas Urizen lost his faith and in vision saw the world
collapsing into darkness:

Urizen rose from the bright Feast like a star thro' the evening sky.
First he beheld the body of Man pale, cold; the horrors of death
Beneath his feet shot thro' him as he stood in the Human Brain,
Pale he beheld futurity; pale he beheld the Abyss
......[he said:]
Build we a Bower for heavens darling in the grizzly deep,
Build we the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion.
FZ2: 23:9-24.8; (314)

The Mundane Shell thus represents the world as we know it with the two contraries,
darkness and light competing for priority. (For example after WWII with the
reconstruction and rehabilitation of Germany and Japan light came relatively to the
fore, to be succeeded by the terrible darkness and chaos of the Vietnam disaster.)

The darkness led Urizen to this confession:

O Fool could I forget the light that filled my bright spheres
Was a reflection of his face who calld me from the deep?
I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice saying
'O light spring up and shine' and I sprang up from the deep
He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown
and said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean.
I went not forth. I hid myself in black clouds of my wrath
I calld the stars around my feet in the night of councils dark
The stars threw down their spears and fled naked away.
We fell.
(Four Zoas Night 5 64:20-28, [344] More about this in the next section:

Urizen symbolized the demiurge, used by gnostic and other philosophers as the lesser
god who created this sorry mess, our world. Urizen often shaded into a Moses like
figure, constantly looking at and working on his books of the law, the vengeful Old
Testament God, and other uncomplimentary names. In the fallen condition he shades
into Satan:

Urizen calld together the Synagogue of Satan in dire Sanhedrin
To Judge the Lamb of God to Death as a murderer & robber.
 (FZ8-109:6-7) [378])

 Urizen lost prominence in the later epics

Book of Urizen
Library of Congress

Damon devotes six pages (419-24) to this Zoa;
from him we learn:

Urizen was the Southern Zoa; he symbolized
Reason and the Age of Reason, which Blake found

Urizen was the limiter of Energy, the lawmaker,
maker of the Book of Brass. He was the 'avenging

(page 419 of a Blake Dictionary).

Man, the image of God is Fourfold; hence God
must be fourfold; the Trinity is reflected in

Tharmas, the Father
Luvah, the Son,
Urthona, the Holy Ghost.
(Damon got this from Kerrison Preston)

Urizen fell into the State of Satan due to his desire for dominion.  Blake might refer to
that as hindering. 

Murder is Hindering Another
 Theft is Hindering Another
(Erdman 601; Annotations to Lavater)

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