Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Parad 5

Dante, Canto XXVII, Translated by A. S. Kline:
"So my Lady spoke, and said: ‘If you wish to be satisfied on this, take what I tell you, and wrap your mind around it.
      The earth-centred circles are wide or narrow, according to how much virtue spreads through their region. Greater excellence has power to work greater benefit: and greater benefit is conferred, by the largest sphere, if all parts of it are equally perfect. So the sphere, that sweeps with it all the rest of the universe, corresponds to the circle that loves and knows most. Therefore, if you take your measure from the virtue, not the appearance, of the substances which appear to you in these circles, you will see a marvellous correspondence between greater and more, smaller and less, between every Heaven and its angelic Intelligence.’"

I think that Blake would have agreed with the above statement by Dante's Lady. However the Correspondence that Blake saw in Dante's nine spheres led him to believe that Dante's God was the God of this World: the God who supported war, empire, vengeance and oppression.   

Another representation of a Urizenic God is on Plate 2, where a confused, disorganised cloven-footed God presides over sending Dante on his mission of exploring hell. Above the image on that plate Blake wrote: 'The Angry God of This World & his Throne in Purgatory'.

Blake's Plate 100 represents the idea that as the spheres grew closer to Dante's God they became progressively more rephensible. As Blake indicated on Plate 7, the center was occupied by a vacuum not a living God who interacted with his creation.

Martin Klonsky comments in Blake's Dante:
"In his illustration of the nine concentric circles of the celestial orders - Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels - whirling about the 'pure spark' of God, Blake reverted to the diagram he drew in Plate 7. Upon it he wrote 'Every thing in Dantes Comedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost .' Accordingly, at the bottom of the design he has depicted the world (or is it Purgatory?) as an island in the Sea of Time and Space. Above this 'Foundation', The celestial spheres appear as an 'image of infinite / shut up in finite revolutions' with 'Heaven a mighty circle turning, God a tyrant crown'd' (Europe 10: 21-23)."(Page 161)
Plate 100
The Deity, from whom Proceed the Nine Sphere

The Nine Spheres from Blake's Dante:
Reading bottom to top -

First - two Angels and moon
Second - 
two male Archangels and Mercury
Third - two beauteous Principalities with Venus
Fourth - two matronly Powers with the sun
Fifth - two helmeted Virtues with Mars
Sixth - two statesmen as Dominions with Jupiter
Seventh - two weary Thrones and Saturn
Eighth - six young females in sphere of Cherubim or fixed stars
Ninth - labelled vacuum on Plate 7, in place of the Seraphim is Blake's representation of Urizen as a tired, feeble old man gesturing helplessly.

Continuing Klonsky's comment:
"The clouds drawn around the astronomical symbols henceforth become progressively thicker, indicating that the more elevated the spheres in Blake' inverse hierarchy, the more occluded they are spiritually."  

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
" Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God. 
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name   Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart. 
This was the Religion of the Pharisees who murderd Jesus.  Deism
is the same & ends in the same."      

Gates of Paradise, Keys to the Gates (E268)
"5    Blind in Fire with shield & spear 
     Two Horn'd Reasoning Cloven Fiction 
     In Doubt which is Self contradiction
     A dark Hermaphrodite We stood             
     Rational Truth Root of Evil & Good
     Round me flew the Flaming Sword
     Round her snowy Whirlwinds roard
     Freezing her Veil the Mundane Shell"

Thursday, September 24, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 99
Four Zoas, Night VIII, PAGE 99, (E 371)


          Night the Eighth

Then All in Great Eternity Met in the Council of God  
as one Man Even Jesus upon Gilead & Hermon            
Upon the Limit of Contraction to create the fallen Man
The Fallen Man stretchd like a Corse upon the oozy Rock 
Washd with the tides Pale overgrown with weeds 

That movd with horrible dreams hovring high over his head
Two winged immortal shapes one standing at his feet
Toward the East one standing at his head toward the west
Their wings joind in the Zenith over head               
Such is a Vision of All Beulah hovring over the Sleeper     

The limit of Contraction now was fixd & Man began
To wake upon the Couch of Death   he sneezed seven times
A tear of blood dropped from either eye again he reposd
In the saviours arms, in the arms of tender mercy & loving kindness

Then Los said I behold the Divine Vision thro the broken Gates
Of thy poor broken heart astonishd melted into Compassion & Love
And Enitharmon said I see the Lamb of God upon Mount Zion 
Wondring with love & Awe they felt the divine hand upon them 

For nothing could restrain the dead in Beulah from descending
Unto Ulros night tempted by the Shadowy females sweet    
Delusive cruelty they descend away from the Daughters of Beulah
And Enter Urizens temple Enitharmon pitying & her heart
Gates broken down. they descend thro the Gate of Pity
The broken heart Gate of Enitharmon She sighs them forth upon the wind 
Of Golgonooza Los stood recieving them
For Los could enter into Enitharmons bosom & explore
Its intricate Labyrinths now the Obdurate heart was broken"

Yale Center for British Art
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
 We visited page 99 before but without any consideration of the image from Night Thoughts which occupies the page along with the compelling words of text. The bearded man holding the scythe is a traditional symbol of the completion of a period of time. In addition to seeing the old man as Father Time, we can see him as one of the angels assigned to watch over the fallen man. His wings, the concern in his face and the tuft of hair on his forehead identify him as spiritual guide for those on the Journey. Two other symbols of the completion of a stage of development are the hourglass at the top of the image and the outstretched hand measuring a span at the bottom.

The decisive events which move the narrative beyond the inconclusive action of Night VII involve the restoration of the ability to see the Divine Vision in Night VIII. It is the brokenness of Los and Enitharmon which enables them recover a spiritual perspective. But their real work is only beginning: now they must work out a way for others who are dead spiritually to find their way back to life.

Psalms 51
[6] Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
[8] Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
[9] Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
[10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
[11] Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
[12] Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
[13] Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
[15] O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
[16] For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
[17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Parad 4

The Vision of the Deity from Whom Proceed the Nine Spheres
William Blake's Illustrations of Dante's Paradice

Blake did this shortly before he died.
An earlier post about this picture.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 97

Lines from the previous and subsequent pages have been added to clarify the meaning of page 97.

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 88 [96], (E 361) 
"Tharmas laughd furious among the Banners clothd in blood
Crying As I will I rend the Nations all asunder rending
The People, vain their combinations I will scatter them  
But thou O Son whom I have crowned and inthrond thee Strong
I will preserve tho Enemies arise around thee numberless
I will command my winds & they shall scatter them or call    
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 89 [97], (E 361) 
My Waters like a flood around thee fear not trust in me
And I will give thee all the ends of heaven for thy possession
In war shalt thou bear rule in blood shalt thou triumph for me
Because in times of Everlasting I was rent in sunder
And what I loved best was divided among my Enemies  
My little daughters were made captives & I saw them beaten
With whips along the sultry sands. I heard those whom I lovd 
Crying in secret tents at night & in the morn compelld
To labour & behold my heart sunk down beneath
In sighs & sobbings all dividing till I was divided          
In twain & lo my Crystal form that lived in my bosom
Followd her daughters to the fields of blood they left me naked
Alone & they refusd to return from the fields of the mighty
Therefore I will reward them as they have rewarded me
I will divide them in my anger & thou O my King  
Shalt gather them from out their graves & put thy fetter on them
And bind them to thee that my crystal form may come to me

So cried the Demon of the Waters in the Clouds of Los
Outstretchd upon the hills lay Enitharmon clouds & tempests
Beat round her head all night all day she riots in Excess   
But night or day Los follows War & the dismal moon rolls over her
That when Los warrd upon the South reflected the fierce fires
Of his immortal head into the North upon faint Enitharmon
Red rage the furies of fierce Orc black thunders roll round Los
Flaming his head like the bright sun seen thro a mist that magnifies 
His disk into a terrible vision to the Eyes of trembling mortals

And Enitharmon trembling & in fear utterd these words

I put not any trust in thee nor in thy glittering scales
Thy eyelids are a terror to me & the flaming of thy crest
The rushing of thy Scales confound me thy hoarse rushing scales  
And if that Los had not built me a tower upon a rock
I must have died in the dark desart among noxious worms
How shall I flee how shall I flee into the tower of Los
My feet are turned backward & my footsteps slide in clay
And clouds are closd around my tower my arms labour in vain 
Does not the God of waters in the wracking Elements
Love those who hate rewarding with hate the Loving Soul
PAGE 90 [98] 
And must not I obey the God thou Shadow of Jealousy
I cry the watchman heareth not I pour my voice in roarings
Watchman the night is thick & darkness cheats my rayie sight
Lift up Lift up O Los awake my watchman for he sleepeth
Lift up Lift up Shine forth O Light watchman thy light is out  
O Los unless thou keep my tower the Watchman will be slain

So Enitharmon cried upon her terrible Earthy bed
While the broad Oak wreathd his roots round her forcing his dark way
Thro caves of death into Existence" 

Yale Center for British Art
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
In the passage on page 97 of the Four Zoas, Enitharmon was a victim. Tharmas, still insisting on the return of Enion, stirred up the waters of matter.  Red Orc, in his serpent form, was supported by the vengeance of Tharmas against those who thwarted him. In fear of the fury of Orc, Enitharmon longed to return to the tower which Los had built for her. Feeling confused and helpless Enitharmon called out for her watchman for protection. She appealed to Los to wake her watchman. The protection which she sought stirred into life, working through her subconscious. 

The image from Night Thoughts accompanying the text encourages us to stretch our imaginations to connect it to the words. A possible representation is of Jesus raising Lazarus. The picture would be a reminder that there is a means provided through which we can be helped to make the transition to spiritual consciousness. Enitharmon's plea is to her own inner sensitivity to a dimension of herself which can provide a passage out of the trap she is in. In Blake's system each aspect of the divided humanity must find its own way to reconnect with a unified and unifying consciousness.

Related images from Songs of Experience and There Is No Natural Religion.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Parad 3

St Peter, St James, Dante and Beatrice with St John Also

This from Paradiso XXV:

But flow'd to me the first from him, who sang
The songs of the Supreme, himself supreme
Among his tuneful brethren.  'Let all hope
In thee,' so speak his anthem, 'who have known
Thy name;' and with my faith who know not that?
From thee, the next, distilling from his spring,
In thine epistle, fell on me the drops
So plenteously, that I on others shower
The influence of their dew."  Whileas I spake,
A lamping, as of quick and vollied lightning,
Within the bosom of that mighty sheen,
Play'd tremulous; then forth these accents breath'd:
"Love for the virtue which attended me
E'en to the palm, and issuing from the field,
Glows vigorous yet within me, and inspires
To ask of thee, whom also it delights;
What promise thou from hope in chief dost win."

"Both scriptures, new and ancient," I reply'd;
"Propose the mark (which even now I view)
For souls belov'd of God. Isaias saith,
That, in their own land, each one must be clad
In twofold vesture; and their proper lands this delicious life.
In terms more full,
And clearer far, thy brother hath set forth
This revelation to us, where he tells
Of the white raiment destin'd to the saints."
And, as the words were ending, from above,
"They hope in thee," first heard we cried: whereto
Answer'd the carols all.  Amidst them next,
A light of so clear amplitude emerg'd,
That winter's month were but a single day,
Were such a crystal in the Cancer's sign.

Like as a virgin riseth up, and goes,
And enters on the mazes of the dance,
Though gay, yet innocent of worse intent,
Than to do fitting honour to the bride;
So I beheld the new effulgence come
Unto the other two, who in a ring
Wheel'd, as became their rapture.  In the dance
And in the song it mingled.  And the dame
Held on them fix'd her looks: e'en as the spouse
Silent and moveless.  "This is he, who lay
Upon the bosom of our pelican:
This he, into whose keeping from the cross
The mighty charge was given."  Thus she spake,
Yet therefore naught the more remov'd her Sight
From marking them, or ere her words began,
Or when they clos'd.  As he, who looks intent,
And strives with searching ken, how he may see
The sun in his eclipse, and, through desire
Of seeing, loseth power of sight: so I
Peer'd on that last resplendence, while I heard:
"Why dazzlest thou thine eyes in seeking that,
Which here abides not?  Earth my body is,
In earth: and shall be, with the rest, so long,
As till our number equal the decree
Of the Most High.  The two that have ascended,
In this our blessed cloister, shine alone
With the two garments.  So report below."

As when, for ease of labour, or to shun
Suspected peril at a whistle's breath,
The oars, erewhile dash'd frequent in the wave,
All rest; the flamy circle at that voice
So rested, and the mingling sound was still,
Which from the trinal band soft-breathing rose.
I turn'd, but ah! how trembled in my thought,
When, looking at my side again to see
Beatrice, I descried her not, although
Not distant, on the happy coast she stood.
British Museum
Blake Illuatrrations
St Peter, St James, Dante and Beatrice with St John Also

What might we do with these pictures? Knonski gave both of them to Paradiso XXV;
the first at lines 13-27, and the second picture at lines 100-108.

From wiki:

"William Blake was born on 28 November 1757 at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in Soho, London. He was the third of seven children,[14][15] two of whom died in infancy. Blake's father, James, was a hosier.[15] He attended school only long enough to learn reading and writing, leaving at the age of ten, and was otherwise educated at home by his mother Catherine Blake (née Wright).[16] Even though the Blakes were English Dissenters,[17] William was baptised on 11 December at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London.[18]

This from Counterlight:

"The poet and artist William Blake famously hated Saint Paul’s, considering it the very embodiment of that compromised institutional religion of law and rationality he always hated (never mind that his beloved Gothic was as much bound up with mathematics and measure, with the ambitions of king, bishop, and burgher, as Wren’s baroque edifice). Byron and the rest of the Romantics also hated Saint Paul’s. Byron dismissed it as just so much “commerce piled up to the sky.” The Victorians hated the building. Its baroque bulk offended Victorian religious sensibilities and English nationalism (every northern and central European nation in the 19th century claimed Gothic as their national and truly “Christian” style, only the French claim was legitimate). They added dark stained glass windows and archaizing Pre-Raphaelite mosaics to make the building into something other than what it was, to make it closer in feeling to Hagia Sophia’s mystical dark and further from Bramante’s classical light. Hitler’s Luftwaffe removed most of those Victorian accretions in World War II.

Link to earlier post.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 95
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 87 [95] (FIRST PORTION), (E 367)
"For far & wide she stretchd thro all the worlds of Urizens journey
And was Ajoind to Beulah as the Polypus to the Rock
Mo[u]rning the daughters of Beulah saw nor could they have sustaind
The horrid sight of death & torment   But the Eternal Promise
They wrote on all their tombs & pillars & on every Urn     
These words   If ye will believe your B[r]other shall rise again
In golden letters ornamented with sweet labours of Love
Waiting with Patience for the fulfilment of the Promise Divine 

And all the Songs of Beulah sounded comfortable notes
Not suffring doubt to rise up from the Clouds of the Shadowy Female 
Then myriads of the Dead burst thro the bottoms of their tombs
Descending on the shadowy females clouds in Spectrous terror
Beyond the Limit of Translucence on the Lake of Udan Adan
These they namd Satans & in the Aggregate they namd them Satan"

Second part of text is on page 95 in David Erdman's The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake. 
"But in the deeps beneath the Roots of Mystery in darkest night
Where Urizen sat on his rock the Shadow brooded      
Urizen saw & triumphd & he cried to his warriors     

The time of Prophecy is now revolvd & all
This Universal Ornament is mine & in my hands
The ends of heaven like a Garment will I fold them round me      
Consuming what must be consumd then in power & majesty
I will walk forth thro those wide fields of endless Eternity
A God & not a Man a Conqueror in triumphant glory
And all the Sons of Everlasting shall bow down at my feet  
First Trades & Commerce ships & armed vessels he builded laborious  
To swim the deep & on the Land children are sold to trades 

Of dire necessity still laboring day & night till all
Their life extinct they took the spectre form in dark despair
And slaves in myriads in ship loads burden the hoarse sounding deep
Rattling with clanking chains the Universal Empire groans 

And he commanded his Sons found a Center in the Deep
And Urizen laid the first Stone & all his myriads
Builded a temple in the image of the human heart."
Yale Center for British Art
Illustrations to Young's Night thoughts
Blake's choice of a page from Night Thoughts to present his text found on page 87 and 95, provides a happy scene on two levels. The upper image is a contented, benevolent Daughter of Beulah observing below a happy group whose activities partake of the joyful Brotherhood of Eden.

But there is another level not visible in the picture but described in the text at the lower part of the page. In the deeps Urizen has created a world from his illusions in which he is not subject to any reality other than which he created in his own inflated fantasy of his power. In place of the human heart filled with love and compassion, he proposes to construct a temple, made with hands and in the shape of a heart. His structure for the worship of his own system of war and empire enlists 'myrids' to engage in the grand building project.

In Young's page of text that Blake illustrated for the published book, he highlighted the line: "Teaching, we learn; and, giving, we retain."

Second Corinthians 5
[1] For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


This a reprise of an earlier post.

Blake felt compelled to speak out against the criticism in the Monthly Magazine which his friend Fuseli's painting Count Ugolino received. Blake defended Fuseli's rendering of the subject and attacked the publication for undermining the taste of the British public by promoting the style imported from Flanders and Holland.

Wikipedia Count Ugolino
Print of Fuseli's lost painting

Letters, To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine (E 768) SIR, 
 My indignation was exceedingly moved at reading a criticism in Bell's Weekly Messenger (25th May) on the picture of Count Ugolino, by Mr. Fuseli, in the Royal Academy exhibition
"My criticism on this picture is as follows:

     Mr. Fuseli's Count Ugolino is the father of sons of feeling
and dignity, who would not sit looking in their parent's face in
the moment of his agony, but would rather retire and die in
secret, while they suffer him to indulge his passionate and
innocent grief, his innocent and venerable madness, and insanity,
and fury, and whatever paltry cold hearted critics cannot,
because they dare not, look upon.  Fuseli's Count Ugolino is a
man of wonder and admiration, of resentment against man and
devil, and of humilitation before God; prayer and parental
affection fills the figure from head to foot.  The child in his
arms, whether boy or girl signifies not, (but the critic must be
a fool who has not read Dante, and who does not know a boy from a
girl); I say, the child is as beautifully drawn as it is
coloured--in both, inimitable! and the effect of the whole is
truly sublime, on account of that very colouring which our critic
calls black and heavy.  The German flute colour, which was used
by the Flemings, (they call it burnt bone), has possessed the eye
of certain connoisseurs, that they cannot see appropriate
colouring, and are blind to the gloom of a real terror."

The theme of Ugolino's imprisonment and suffering was common among artists. Milton Klonsky writes in Blake's Dante, "As an instance of papal tyranny, Ugolino's imprisonment and death by starvation became a popular subject for Protestant English artists."  Blake included images of the family who had been sealed in a locked tower sentenced to die of starvation in Marriage of Heaven & Hell, in A Small Book of Designs, and in Gates of Paradise. The caption on the image in Gates of Paradise is, "Does thy God O Priest take such vengeance as this?" When Blake illustrated Dante's Divine Comedy near the end of his life he returned to the tragic incident.

Among the themes Blake alluded to in his images are his opposition to vengeance, the imprisonment of man in his five senses, and the suffering which man brings on himself and his children by violence. 

In his final use of the image Blake adds two motifs not present in the earlier images; angels make there presence known in the cell, and the flames of a fire are seen behind Ugolino's head. The protection by the Divine Providence can be seen in the presence of the angels. The cleansing fire of the furnace preliminary to regeneration has been added as well.  
Wikipedia Commons
Ugolino in Prison
Illustration to Dante's Divine Comedy

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 93

Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 93, (E 365)
"Life up thy blue eyes Vala & put on thy sapphire shoes
O Melancholy Magdalen behold the morning breaks
Gird on thy flaming Zone. descend into the Sepulcher
Scatter the blood from thy golden brow the tears from thy silver locks
Shake off the waters from thy wings & the dust from thy white garments

Remember all thy feigned terrors on the secret Couch
When the sun rose in glowing morn with arms of mighty hosts
Marching to battle who was wont to rise with Urizens harps  
Girt as a Sower with his seed to scatter life abroad

Arise O Vala bring the bow of Urizen bring the swift arrows of light 
How ragd the golden horses of Urizen bound to the chariot of Love
Compelld to leave the plow to the Ox to snuff up the winds of desolation
To trample the corn fields in boastful neighings. this is no gentle harp
This is no warbling brook nor Shadow of a Myrtle tree

But blood & wounds & dismal cries & clarions of war     
And hearts laid open to the light by the broad grizly sword
And bowels hidden in hammerd steel rippd forth upon the Ground 
Call forth thy Smiles of soft deceit call forth thy cloudy tears
We hear thy sighs in trumpets shrill when Morn shall blood renew   

So sung the demons of the deep the Clarions of war blew loud     
Orc rent her & his human form consumd in his own fires
Mingled with her dolorous members strewn thro the Abyss
She joyd in all the Conflict Gratified & drinking tears of woe
No more remaind of Orc but the Serpent round the tree of Mystery
The form of Orc was gone he reard his serpent bulk among 
The stars of Urizen in Power rending the form of life 
Into a formless indefinite & strewing her on the Abyss
Like clouds upon the winter sky broken with winds & thunders
This was to her Supreme delight The Warriors mournd disappointed
They go out to war with Strong Shouts & loud Clarions O Pity     
They return with lamentations mourning & weeping

Invisible or visible drawn out in length or stretchd in breadth
The Shadowy Female varied in the War in her delight
Howling in discontent black & heavy uttering brute sounds
Wading thro fens among the slimy weeds making Lamentations      
To decieve Tharmas in his rage to soothe his furious soul 

To stay him in his flight that Urizen might live tho in pain
He said Art thou bright Enion is the Shadow of hope returnd

And She said Tharmas I am Vala bless thy innocent face
Doth Enion avoid the sight of thy blue watry eyes    
Be not perswaded that the air knows this or the failing dew

Tharmas replid O Vala once I livd in a garden of delight"

Wiki Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night thoughts
The descent into the sepulcher is the descent into the world of matter with its accompanying experiences of decay and death. Vala's descent provides Urizen with weapons of war. By joining together, the Shadowy Female and Orc have reduced the form of Orc to that of a serpent who entwines himself around the Tree of Mystery, which includes the false religion of accusation, judgment and punishment.
The Shadowy Female, assuming the appearance of Vala, attempts to enlist Tharmas' help in order to protect her ally Urizen.

The image calls to mind the situation of Urizen as he may have contemplated the consequences of entering the world of mortality. The figures in the lower world show diminishment as thy drink the dark wine of mortality. Their covered sensory organs indicate that the acute perception which they enjoyed in Eternity was one of the first losses experienced in materiality.   

Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 121, (E 390) 
"Urizen wept in the dark deep anxious his Scaly form
To reassume the human & he wept in the dark deep

Saying O that I had never drank the wine nor eat the bread
Of dark mortality nor cast my view into futurity nor turnd  
My back darkning the present clouding with a cloud" 

Several entries in the Blake Dictionary by S Foster Damon assist in understanding Blake's imagery:

SERPENT (Page 365)

"The Serpent has been a symbol of evil ever since it seduced Eve into eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Blake gives the serpent a number of overlapping meanings, all related.
The longest analysis of this process is Blake's study of the degeneration of Revolution. Orc is compelled by Urizen to assume the serpent form and climb the Tree of Mystery. He has lost all semblance of his original humanity and has descended into 'that State called Satan'. He encircles Man with his twenty-seven folds of his false heavens or churches 'in forms of Priesthood'. Thus Orc, originally enemy of religion, becomes his own opposite."

DEATH (Page 99)

"Death of the physical body is the shedding of the shell which the soul, or spiritual body, has grown for protection in this world. It is the return of the soul to Eternity. ... The inner being knows nothing of death, death exists only in the conscious mind and the world of matter. It is learned only by Experience. ... Only man fears death...But man's fears are augmented by the religion of Satan. ... Spiritual Death is sacrificing oneself for another."
Milton, PLATE 38 [43], (E 139)
"Such are the Laws of Eternity that each shall mutually
Annihilate himself for others good, as I for thee"


"The Tree of Mystery is the contrary of the Tree of Life. It is the Tree of Death, the forbidden tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, whose fatal fruit brings spiritual death, causing man to set mimself up as a god (Elohim - judges.) It is the system of Morality, the false church of Mystery, the Whore of Babylon. On this Tree Jesus was crucified.
until the web of religion falls of its own weight and entangles Urizen."

WAR (Page 441)

"War on earth is 'energy enslaved'. It is the 'fever of the human soul'. After Luvah is sealed in the furnace of affliction, he reappears in the lower form of Orc; and the demons cry: 'Luvah King of Love, thou art the king of rage & death'. When Orc breaks loose and embraces the Shadowy Female (the debased Vala), war enters the material world."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Parad 2

St Peter, Beatrice and Dante
From Paradiso xxv:
Toward us mov'd a light, at view whereof
My Lady, full of gladness, spake to me:
"Lo! lo! behold the peer of mickle might,
That makes Falicia throng'd with visitants!"

As when the ring-dove by his mate alights,
In circles each about the other wheels,
And murmuring cooes his fondness; thus saw I
One, of the other great and glorious prince,
With kindly greeting hail'd, extolling both
Their heavenly banqueting; but when an end
Was to their gratulation, silent, each,
Before me sat they down, so burning bright,
I could not look upon them.  Smiling then,
Beatrice spake: "O life in glory shrin'd!"
Who didst the largess of our kingly court
Set down with faithful pen! let now thy voice
Of hope the praises in this height resound.
For thou, who figur'st them in shapes, as clear,
As Jesus stood before thee, well can'st speak them."

"Lift up thy head, and be thou strong in trust:
For that, which hither from the mortal world
Arriveth, must be ripen'd in our beam."

Such cheering accents from the second flame
Assur'd me; and mine eyes I lifted up
Unto the mountains that had bow'd them late
With over-heavy burden.  "Sith our Liege
Wills of his grace that thou, or ere thy death,
In the most secret council, with his lords
Shouldst be confronted, so that having view'd
The glories of our court, thou mayst therewith
Thyself, and all who hear, invigorate
With hope, that leads to blissful end; declare,
What is that hope, how it doth flourish in thee,
And whence thou hadst it?"  Thus proceeding still,
The second light: and she, whose gentle love
My soaring pennons in that lofty flight
Escorted, thus preventing me, rejoin'd:
Among her sons, not one more full of hope,
Hath the church militant: so 't is of him
Recorded in the sun, whose liberal orb
Enlighteneth all our tribe: and ere his term
Of warfare, hence permitted he is come,
From Egypt to Jerusalem, to see.

I turn'd, but ah! how trembled in my thought,
When, looking at my side again to see
Beatrice, I descried her not, although
Not distant, on the happy coast she stood.

St Peter Beatrice and Dante with St. James also
Blake Illustrations of Dante

Eighth Sphere (The Fixed Stars: Faith, Hope, and Love)[edit]

The sphere of the Fixed Stars is the sphere of the church triumphant.[34] From here (in fact, from the constellation Gemini, under which he was born), Dante looks back on the seven spheres he has visited, and on the Earth (Canto XXII):
"My eyes returned through all the seven spheres
and saw this globe in such a way that I
smiled at its scrawny image: I approve

that judgment as the best, which holds this earth
to be the least; and he whose thoughts are set
elsewhere, can truly be called virtuous."[35]
Here, Dante sees the Virgin Mary and other saints (Canto XXIII). St. Peter tests Dante on faith, asking what it is, and whether Dante has it. In response to Dante's reply, St. Peter asks Dante how he knows that the Bible is true, and (in an argument attributed to Augustine[36]) Dante cites the miracle of the Church's growth from such humble beginnings (Canto XXIV):
"Say, who assures you that those works were real?
came the reply. The very thing that needs
proof no thing else attests these works to you.
Alessandro Sorrentino reads the XXXIII chant of Dante's Paradise

Problems playing this file? See media help.
I said: If without miracles the world
was turned to Christianity, that is
so great a miracle that, all the rest

are not its hundredth part: for you were poor
and hungry when you found the field and sowed
the good plant once a vine and now a thorn."[37]

St. James, who questions Dante on hope (painting byRembrandt), Canto 25.
St. James[38] questions Dante on hope, and Beatrice vouches for his possession of it (Canto XXV):
"There is no child of the Church Militant
who has more hope than he has, as is written
within the Sun whose rays reach all our ranks:

thus it is granted him to come from Egypt
into Jerusalem that he have vision
of it, before his term of warring ends."[39]
Finally, St. John questions Dante on love. In his reply, Dante refers back to the concept of "twisted love" discussed in the Purgatorio[40] (Canto XXVI):
"Thus I began again: My charity
results from all those things whose bite can bring
the heart to turn to God; the world's existence

and mine, the death that He sustained that I
might live, and that which is the hope of all
believers, as it is my hope, together

with living knowledge I have spoken of
these drew me from the sea of twisted love
and set me on the shore of the right love.

The leaves enleaving all the garden of
the Everlasting Gardener, I love
according to the good He gave to them."[41]
St. Peter then denounces Pope Boniface VIII in very strong terms, and says that, in his eyes, the Papal See stands empty (Canto XXVII).

Dante and Beatrice see God as a point of light surrounded by angels (illustration by Gustave Doré), Canto 28.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 91

Confusion about the order of Blake's manuscript pages for the Four Zoas is obvious in this section. This is the second title page of Night VII which we have seen. The title Vala would seem to indicate that Blake wrote this before he changed the title of his epic. Blake added the instruction as to where the Night should begin, and that this material should come in at the end. Scholars have worked this out as best they can. Some believe that Blake was saying something about the processes of finding one's way out of the labyrinth.
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 91, (E 363) 
Night the Seventh
This Night began at line 153 the following comes in at the end

Thus in the Caverns of the Grave & Places of human seed 
The nameless shadowy Vortex stood before the face of Orc
The Shadow reard her dismal head over the flaming youth
With sighs & howling & deep sobs that he might lose his rage
And with it lose himself in meekness she embracd his fire 
As when the Earthquake rouzes from his den his shoulders huge
Appear above the crumb[l]ing Mountain. Silence waits around him
A moment then astounding horror belches from the Center
The fiery dogs arise the shoulders huge appear
So Orc rolld round his clouds upon the deeps of dark Urthona 
Knowing the arts of Urizen were Pity & Meek affection 
And that by these arts the Serpent form exuded from his limbs
Silent as despairing love & strong as Jealousy
Jealous that she was Vala now become Urizens harlot
And the Harlot of Los & the deluded harlot of the Kings of Earth 
His soul was gnawn in sunder
The hairy shoulders rend the links free are the wrists of fire
Red rage redounds he rouzd his lions from his forests black
They howl around the flaming youth rending the nameless shadow
And running their immortal course thro solid darkness borne   

Loud sounds the war song round red Orc in his [?triumphant] fury
And round the nameless shadowy Female in her howling terror
When all the Elemental Gods joind in the wondrous Song

Sound the War trumpet terrific Souls clad in attractive steel
Sound the shrill fife serpents of war. I hear the northern drum  
Awake, I hear the flappings of the folding banners

The dragons of the North put on their armour
Upon the Eastern sea direct they take their course
The glittring of their horses trapping stains the vault of night

Stop we the rising of the glorious King. spur spur your clouds"  

Wiki Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Another of the pages of the Four Zoas which Blake wrote on a discarded engraving for Night Thoughts was page 91. The image is of a bound and shackled man comfortably lying on the ground and reading a book. Female figures at various elevations surround the man. The text suggests that the condition of the man was not as pleasant as it seemed, for we are introduced to the idea that he was in a Cavern of the Grave. He certainly had diminished consciousness since he seemed unaware of being lashed down and chained. I hesitate to speculate on the identity of the man, but since he is intent on his book, he may be the reader of the Four Zoas.

The text follows a different line of thought. Orc, symbolizing aggressive male sexual energy, mated with the shadowy Vortex representing the promiscuous whore which Vala became. The union released forces which were destined to run their courses as the poem continued. Blake intimated that the darker side of the other Zoas would become involved:
"The dragons of the North put on their armour
Upon the Eastern sea direct they take their course
The glittring of their horses trapping stains the vault of night"

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Parad 1

Dante Adoring Christ

From Paradiso XIV:


From centre to the circle, and so back
From circle to the centre, water moves
In the round chalice, even as the blow
Impels it, inwardly, or from without.
Such was the image glanc'd into my mind,
As the great spirit of Aquinum ceas'd;
And Beatrice after him her words
Resum'd alternate: "Need there is (tho' yet
He tells it to you not in words, nor e'en
In thought) that he should fathom to its depth
Another mystery.  Tell him, if the light,
Wherewith your substance blooms, shall stay with you
Eternally, as now: and, if it doth,
How, when ye shall regain your visible forms,
The sight may without harm endure the change,
That also tell."  As those, who in a ring
Tread the light measure, in their fitful mirth
Raise loud the voice, and spring with gladder bound;
Thus, at the hearing of that pious suit,
The saintly circles in their tourneying
And wond'rous note attested new delight.

     Whoso laments, that we must doff this garb
Of frail mortality, thenceforth to live
Immortally above, he hath not seen
The sweet refreshing, of that heav'nly shower.

     Him, who lives ever, and for ever reigns
In mystic union of the Three in One,
Unbounded, bounding all, each spirit thrice
Sang, with such melody, as but to hear
For highest merit were an ample meed.
And from the lesser orb the goodliest light,
With gentle voice and mild, such as perhaps
The angel's once to Mary, thus replied:
"Long as the joy of Paradise shall last,
Our love shall shine around that raiment, bright,
As fervent; fervent, as in vision blest;
And that as far in blessedness exceeding,
As it hath grave beyond its virtue great.
Our shape, regarmented with glorious weeds
Of saintly flesh, must, being thus entire,
Show yet more gracious.  Therefore shall increase,
Whate'er of light, gratuitous, imparts
The Supreme Good; light, ministering aid,
The better disclose his glory: whence
The vision needs increasing, much increase
The fervour, which it kindles; and that too
The ray, that comes from it.  But as the greed
Which gives out flame, yet it its whiteness shines
More lively than that, and so preserves
Its proper semblance; thus this circling sphere
Of splendour, shall to view less radiant seem,
Than shall our fleshly robe, which yonder earth
Now covers.  Nor will such excess of light
O'erpower us, in corporeal organs made
Firm, and susceptible of all delight."

Dante Adoring Christ
William Blake Illustrating Dante
National Gallery of Victoria
From Paradiso XIV:

From wiki Paradiso

Paradiso (pronounced [paraˈdiːzo]; Italian for "Paradise" or "Heaven") is the third and final part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the inferno and the Purgatorio. It is an allegory telling of Dante's journey through Heaven, guided by Beatrice, who symbolises theology. In the poem, Paradise is depicted as a series of concentric spheres surrounding the Earth, consisting of the MoonMercuryVenus, theSunMarsJupiterSaturn, the Fixed Stars, the Primum Mobile and finally, the Empyrean. It was written in the early 14th century. Allegorically, the poem represents the soul's ascent to God.
The Paradiso begins at the top of Mount Purgatory, at noon on the Wednesday after Easter. After ascending through the sphere of fire believed to exist in the earth's upper atmosphere (Canto I), Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven, to the Empyrean, which is the abode of God. The nine spheres are concentric, as in the standard medieval geocentric model of cosmology,[1] which was derived from Ptolemy. The Empyrean is non-material. As with his Purgatory, the structure of Dante's Heaven is therefore of the form 9+1=10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine.
During the course of his journey, Dante meets and converses with several blessed souls. He is careful to say that these all actually live in bliss with God in the Empyrean:
"But all those souls grace the Empyrean;
and each of them has gentle life though some
sense the Eternal Spirit more, some less."[2]
However, for Dante's benefit (and the benefit of his readers), he is "as a sign"[3] shown various souls in planetary and stellar spheres that have some appropriate connotation.

While the structures of the Inferno and Purgatorio were based around different classifications of sin, the structure of the Paradiso is based on the four cardinal virtues (PrudenceJustice,Temperance, and Fortitude) and the three theological virtues (FaithHope, and Charity).

The fervour, which it kindles; and that too
The ray, that comes from it.  But as the greed
Which gives out flame, yet it its whiteness shines
More lively than that, and so preserves
Its proper semblance; thus this circling sphere
Of splendour, shall to view less radiant seem,
Than shall our fleshly robe, which yonder earth
Now covers.  Nor will such excess of light
O'erpower us, in corporeal organs made
Firm, and susceptible of all delight."