Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beulah and Ulro

In the conventional mind we live in a three story universe: Heaven, Earth, and Hell.  Many of Blake's pictures display a similar pattern. Look at this one from the Book of Job:
Adelaide University

At the top is God with two attending angels.
In the middle layer are Job with his wife and 'three friends'.
She suggests that Job (Everyman) just curse God and die.
The 3 friends have similar forms of comfort.

At the bottom are two of the most fearful creatures made by God:
Behemoth and Leviathen

In Blake's myth there are three places:
1. Great Eternity
2. Beulah
3. Ulro

"There is from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant rest Nam'd Beulah, a soft Moony Universe, feminine, lovely, Pure, mild & Gentle, given in Mercy to those who sleep, Eternally created by the Lamb of God around, On all sides, within & without the Universal"
(The Four Zoas; Night 1 5;29-31)

Jerusalem Chap 1 
" Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through 
Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life. 
This theme calls me in sleep night after night, & ev'ry morn 
Awakes me at sun-rise, then I see the Saviour over me
Spreading his beams of love, & dictating the words of this mild song. 
Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand! 
I am in you &you in me, mutual in love divine:"(You may be sure that William Blake was thoroughly familiar with the hymn.)
When those from Eternity tire of the Severe Contentions of Friendship, they may drop down to Beulah for rest and relaxation which is all well and good; but if they sleep too long they may fall farther into Ulro:

When the senses are shaken, And the Soul is driven to madness
British Museum

Here's a good depiction of the meaning of Ulro.

Blake first called the image 'Our End is Come.'

Erdman, in Prophet Against Empire (Page 206), describes it as 'the hysterical king, flanked by two chief warriors who grip sword and spear, [who] stands inside a threshold enveloped in flames.' The second issue was captioned, 'When the senses are shaken, And the Soul is driven to madness', to suggest the madness of the king. In the third version the caption below the picture reads: 'A Scene in the Last Judgment / Satans' holy Trinity The Accuser The Judge & The Executioner'. Above the Picture we see: 'The Accusers of Theft Adultery Murder'; with the words 'Theft', 'Adultery' and 'Murder' labeling the three men.

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