Wednesday, September 09, 2015


John Middleton Murry in William Blake, his study of Blake's life and works, makes this perceptive statement:
"Blake's prophetic books, strange and obscure as they are at first approach, are alive in this deepest sense of all. They are on incessant process of destruction and creation, of creation through destruction. Their seeming chaos is the apparent confusion which attends swift and precipitate growth: the husks of the old are incessantly being split in sunder under the urge of the new realization." (Page 171)
British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 81
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 80, (E 356)
"Urizen envious brooding sat & saw the secret terror
Flame high in pride & laugh to scorn the source of his deceit    
Nor knew the source of his own but thought himself the Sole author
Of all his wandering Experiments in the horrible Abyss
He knew that weakness stretches out in breadth & length he knew
That wisdom reaches high & deep & therefore he made Orc
In Serpent form compelld stretch out & up the mysterious tree
He sufferd him to Climb that he might draw all human forms    
Into submission to his will nor knew the dread result

Los sat in showers of Urizen watching cold Enitharmon 
His broodings rush down to his feet producing Eggs that hatching
Burst forth upon the winds above the tree of Mystery
Enitharmon lay on his knees. Urizen tracd his Verses   
In the dark deep the dark tree grew. her shadow was drawn down
Down to the roots it wept over Orc. the Shadow of Enitharmon

Los saw her stretchd the image of death upon his witherd valleys
Her Shadow went forth & returnd Now she was pale as Snow
When the mountains & hills are coverd over & the paths of Men shut up
But when her spirit returnd as ruddy as a morning when
The ripe fruit blushes into joy in heavens eternal halls 
Sorrow shot thro him from his feet it shot up to his head
Like a cold night that nips the root & shatters off the leaves 
Silent he stood oer Enitharmon watching her pale face   
He spoke not he was Silent till he felt the cold disease
Then Los mournd on the dismal wind in his jealous lamentation

Why can I not Enjoy thy beauty   Lovely Enitharmon
When I return from clouds of Grief in the wandring Elements
Where thou in thrilling joy in beaming summer loveliness 
Delectable reposest ruddy in my absence flaming with beauty
Cold pale in sorrow at my approach trembling at my terrific
Forehead & eyes thy lips decay like roses in the spring 
How art thou Shrunk thy grapes that burst in summers vast Excess
Shut up in little purple covering faintly bud & die    
Thy olive trees that pourd down oil upon a thousand hills
Sickly look forth & scarcely stretch their branches to the plain
Thy roses that expanded in the face of glowing morn."

Blake uses an illustrations from his engravings for Young's Night Thoughts to accompany his text for page 80 of the Four Zoas. The connection of the image to his account of the Serpent being forced to climb the Tree of Mystery, and Los feeling estranged from Enitharmon is less than obvious. We must look deeper to see the figure in the picture as Urizen as he with one hand tears down the sun, with the other aims a spear of destruction. Underfoot Urizen tramples two figures who have opposed him. 

Wiki Commons
Illustrations to Night Thoughts
The text identifies the Shadow of Enitharmon as the 'image of death' which dominates Los' thoughts, (not Enitharmon herself but a dark shade from his subconscious.) Enitharmon as cold and distant, and Urizen as dominant, work together in Los' mind to to produce the 'cold disease' jealousy which Blake announced on on the title page was a theme of the Four Zoas.

"The torments of Love & Jealousy in 
 The Death and Judgement. 
 of Albion the Ancient Man"

Early in Blake's passage he calls to mind that it was Jesus who was raised on the tree, lifted up and drew all men to him.
John 12
[30] Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
[31] Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
[32] And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

No comments: