Monday, July 20, 2015


Four Zoas, Night V, Page 60, (E 340) 
"And brass & silver & gold fourfold in dark prophetic fear
For now he feard Eternal Death & uttermost Extinction  
He builded Golgonooza on the Lake of Udan Adan
Upon the Limit of Translucence then he builded Luban
Tharmas laid the Foundations & Los finishd it in howling woe     

But when fourteen summers & winters had revolved over
Their solemn habitation Los beheld the ruddy boy
Embracing his bright mother & beheld malignant fires
In his young eyes discerning plain that Orc plotted his death
Grief rose upon his ruddy brows. a tightening girdle grew        
Around his bosom like a bloody cord. in secret sobs
He burst it, but next morn another girdle succeeds

Around his bosom. Every day he viewd the fiery youth
With silent fear & his immortal cheeks grew deadly pale
Till many a morn & many a night passd over in dire woe          
Forming a girdle in the day & bursting it at night
The girdle was formd by day by night was burst in twain
Falling down on the rock an iron chain link by link lockd

Enitharmon beheld the bloody chain of nights & days
Depending from the bosom of Los & how with griding pain   
He went each morning to his labours. with the spectre dark
Calld it the chain of jealousy. Now Los began to speak      
His woes aloud to Enitharmon. since he could not hide
His uncouth plague. He siezd the boy in his immortal hands
While Enitharmon followd him weeping in dismal woe              
Up to the iron mountains top & there the Jealous chain
Fell from his bosom on the mountain. The Spectre dark
Held the fierce boy Los naild him down binding around his limbs
The accursed chain O how bright Enitharmon howld & cried    
Over her son. Obdurate Los bound down her loved joy"

In Blake's Poetry and Designs, Mary Lynn Johnson and Hugh Grant move to Night V of the Four Zoas without including any passages from Nights III and IV. On page 60 of the Four Zoas we learn that 'Tharmas laid the foundation.' Reviewing the role Tharmas has played thus far in Blake's narrative, we are forced to ask, "Foundation for what?" The answer will be revealed gradually as Albion sleeps and various portions of his psyche strive to evolve into forms which will meld into a cohesive whole.

If we are too caught up in this passage as a story of domestic violence occurring in our world, we may miss much of what Blake implies. The child of Enitharmon is Orc the fallen form of Luvah or the emotional life. His birth is an aspect of psychological development when the maturing individual begins to unleash emotions of sexual love and just wrath. Since Enitharmon had fallen to a greater degree than had Los, there is a greater affinity between mother and son. Los could see that rebellion could destroy his constructive work, so he pushed his son away and into the arms of Enitharmon and her distorted worldview.

Los became embroiled in an internal conflict that he couldn't win. If he rejected Orc he became enslaved to his own jealousy. If he bound Orc he was overcome by guilt. Los was the vehicular form of Urthona, the Zoa of intuition and imagination. So Orc (Luvah) had gained the power to emasculate the imagination. Blake, who knew this conundrum from experience, paid careful attention to Los' struggle against Orc or Luvah or Vala - three forms of the same Zoa - because he wanted to emphasize its importance.

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