|Yale Center for British Art|
Book of Urizen
Plate 7, Copy C
Blake found this an appropriate image of the situation endured by Urizen. Having attempted unsuccessfully to acquire the functionality of Urthona, Urizen had lost the integrating and relational skills which would have allowed him to function. Around him had formed a body of assumptions and expectations which served his unrealistic self-image. He was trapped in thought patterns which drew him inward and downward away from any corrective measures which would have allowed him to escape.
Four Zoas, Night VI, Page 71, (E 348) "But still his books he bore in his strong hands & his iron pen For when he died they lay beside his grave & when he rose He siezd them with a gloomy smile for wrapd in his death clothes He hid them when he slept in death when he revivd the clothes Were rotted by the winds the books remaind still unconsumd Still to be written & interleavd with brass & iron & gold Time after time for such a journey none but iron pens Can write And adamantine leaves recieve nor can the man who goes PAGE 72 The journey obstinate refuse to write time after time Endless had been his travel but the Divine hand him led For infinite the distance & obscurd by Combustions dire By rocky masses frowning in the abysses revolving erratic Round Lakes of fire in the dark deep the ruins of Urizens world Oft would he sit in a dark rift & regulate his books Or sleep such sleep as spirits eternal wearied in his dark Tearful & sorrowful state. then rise look out & ponder His dismal voyage eyeing the next sphere tho far remote Then darting into the Abyss of night his venturous limbs Thro lightnings thunders earthquakes & concussions fires & floods Stemming his downward fall labouring up against futurity Creating many a Vortex fixing many a Science in the deep And thence throwing his venturous limbs into the Vast unknown Swift Swift from Chaos to chaos from void to void a road immense For when he came to where a Vortex ceasd to operate Nor down nor up remaind then if he turnd & lookd back From whence he came twas upward all. & if he turnd and viewd The unpassd void upward was still his mighty wandring The midst between an Equilibrium grey of air serene Where he might live in peace & where his life might meet repose But Urizen said Can I not leave this world of Cumbrous wheels Circle oer Circle nor on high attain a void Where self sustaining I may view all things beneath my feet Or sinking thro these Elemental wonders swift to fall I thought perhaps to find an End a world beneath of voidness Whence I might travel round the outside of this Dark confusion When I bend downward bending my head downward into the deep Tis upward all which way soever I my course begin But when A Vortex formd on high by labour & sorrow & care And weariness begins on all my limbs then sleep revives My wearied spirits waking then tis downward all which way So ever I my spirits turn no end I find of all O what a world is here unlike those climes of bliss Where my sons gatherd round my knees O thou poor ruind world Thou horrible ruin once like me thou wast all glorious And now like me partaking desolate thy masters lot Art thou O ruin the once glorious heaven are these thy rocks Where joy sang in the trees & pleasure sported on the rivers Page 73 ... And if Eternal falling I repose on the dark bosom Of winds & waters or thence fall into a Void where air Is not down falling thro immensity ever & ever I lose my powers weakend every revolution till a death Shuts up my powers then a seed in the vast womb of darkness I dwell in dim oblivion."