Tuesday, July 14, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 23

Blake originally began the Four Zoas with the title Vala. Night II was the first of the Nights in the early manuscript. On page 209 of Blake's Apocalypse, Harold Bloom explains Blake's rationale in restructuring his poem to include the fall of Tharmas as described in Night I:

"The account of Night I of The Four Zoas has emphasized intellectual symbolism mostly by explicit translation. Yet as one reads on in the poem, or rereads Night I, one feels less and less the need for such translation. The Four Zoas does not reduce to a structure of ideas; indeed the poem is primarily a series of dramatic scenes or dialectic encounters, illustrating "the torments of Love and Jealousy" that brought about and continue to maintain the suffering condition of mankind. But since the encounters are utterly within the self, Blake does insist upon the reader's firm grip on the argument.
Night I has described the fall of Tharmas, or catastrophe as seen from the perspective of the lost power of Innocence, the lost ability to move instantly from desire to realization. Night II changes this perspective to the self-induced ruin of desire itself. The loss of Eden is followed by the darkening of the next stage of Man, the agony of passion deprived of every generous impulse once primal to it. Night II of The Four Zoas was once Night I of Vala, and contains more poetry of the highest order than the present Night I does. Yet Blake was correct in creating the new first book of his poem, though he sacrificed rhetorical immediacy in doing so. The fall of Tharmas is fundamental for everything that comes after it, and the comparative abstractness of much in Night I allows the subsequent parts of the poem to concentrate their energies on a vividness and directness in presentation that could not otherwise be achieved."

Four Zoas, Night II, PAGE 23, (E 313)
                  Night the [Second]          
Rising upon his Couch of Death Albion beheld his Sons
Turning his Eyes outward to Self. losing the Divine Vision
Albion calld Urizen & said. Behold these sickning Spheres  
Whence is this Voice of Enion that soundeth in my Porches  
Take thou possession! take this Scepter! go forth in my might    
For I am weary, & must sleep in the dark sleep of Death     
Thy brother Luvah hath smitten me but pity thou his youth   
Tho thou hast not pitid my Age   O Urizen Prince of Light

Urizen rose from the bright Feast like a star thro' the evening sky
Exulting at the voice that calld him from the Feast of envy     
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
And all its golden porches grew pale with his sickening light
No more Exulting for he saw Eternal Death beneath
Pale he beheld futurity; pale he beheld the Abyss                
Where Enion blind & age bent wept in direful hunger craving"

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