Thursday, May 23, 2013


Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Plate 7, Copy C
Blake understood that a vortex is capable of drawing into itself whatever comes within the perimeter of its control. It sucks matter into the ever increasing rotational motion under its dominion. As the rotation tightens, the movement becomes downward, into the depths from which escape seems impossible.

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."

No comments: