Monday, December 14, 2015


Blake was unusual in that he approached his work from the perspective of both verbal and visual communication. The two art forms stimulated different areas of understanding and enhanced the completeness of the meaning transmitted.   

This blog will turn now to looking at visual images of the characters in Blake's myth. Blake was generous in providing images along with his text but he was stingy in providing identification of what he was representing. Although each reader/viewer must respond in his own way to what he reads/sees, we benefit from one another's perceptions. Perhaps by focusing on a specific image associated with each Zoa and Emanation, I will provide a family portrait showing how disparate entities can be fitted together.

Yale Center for British Art   Jerusalem
Copy E, Plate 92

This image from Jerusalem incorporates Jerusalem surrounded by partially buried heads of the the Four Zoas. As mental constructs the Zoas work underground and become recognized in the outer world as activities we experience in our passage through life. In this image Jerusalem is the drawing together of all of the Emanations as a manifest expression of Man's underlying Humanity.  

W. P. Witcutt's book, Blake: A Psychological Study gives this introduction to his views on 'Blake's interior universe:'

"The chief figures of Blake's interior universe were four daemons or gods he called Los or Urthona, Urizen, Luvah or Orc, and Tharmas. Blake was quite aware that his epics were about what we now call psychological states and that the demonic figures which inhabited them were fragments of the personality. He tells us plainly that Urizen is thought, Luvah love, and Los 'Prophecy.' To the man of dominant reason it may seem strange that these abstractions (as they appear to him) should be clothed with personalities and names; but this is how they appear to all of us in dreams. But not only in dreams. Blake's Four Zoas appear quite frequently in literature, particularly in the novel...The novel is our modern form or myth." ( Page 30)

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 3, (E 300)
"Four Mighty Ones are in every Man; a Perfect Unity                   
Cannot Exist. but from the Universal Brotherhood of Eden"                 

Jerusalem, Plate 98, (E 257)
"And every Man stood Fourfold, each Four Faces had. One to the West
One toward the East One to the South One to the North. the Horses Fourfold
And the dim Chaos brightend beneath, above, around! Eyed as the Peacock
According to the Human Nerves of Sensation, the Four Rivers of the Water of Life

South stood the Nerves of the Eye. East in Rivers of bliss the Nerves of the
Expansive Nostrils West, flowd the Parent Sense the Tongue. North stood
The labyrinthine Ear. Circumscribing & Circumcising the excrementitious
Husk & Covering into Vacuum evaporating revealing the lineaments of Man
Driving outward the Body of Death in an Eternal Death & Resurrection   
Awaking it to Life among the Flowers of Beulah rejoicing in Unity
In the Four Senses in the Outline the Circumference & Form, for ever
In Forgiveness of Sins which is Self Annihilation. it is the Covenant of Jehovah

The Four Living Creatures Chariots of Humanity Divine Incomprehensible
In beautiful Paradises expand These are the Four Rivers of Paradise   
And the Four Faces of Humanity fronting the Four Cardinal Points
Of Heaven going forward forward irresistible from Eternity to Eternity

And they conversed together in Visionary forms dramatic which bright
Redounded from their Tongues in thunderous majesty, in Visions

In new Expanses, creating exemplars of Memory and of Intellect  
Creating Space, Creating Time according to the wonders Divine
Of Human Imagination, throughout all the Three Regions immense
Of Childhood, Manhood & Old Age[;] & the all tremendous unfathomable Non Ens
Of Death was seen in regenerations terrific or complacent varying
According to the subject of discourse & every Word & Every Character
Was Human according to the Expansion or Contraction, the Translucence or
Opakeness of Nervous fibres such was the variation of Time & Space
Which vary according as the Organs of Perception vary & they walked
To & fro in Eternity as One Man reflecting each in each & clearly seen
And seeing: according to fitness & order. And I heard Jehovah speak 
Terrific from his Holy Place & saw the Words of the Mutual Covenant Divine"

The Mutual Covenant:

Leviticus 26
[12] And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.


Susan J. said...

" Blake was generous in providing images along with his text but he was stingy in providing identification of what he was representing. "


I wrote a longish comment and tried to post it here, but it got lost somehow, so let me just say I'm looking forward to this series.

thanks, Ellie!!!

ellie said...

Good morning Susan,

Jerusalem, Plate 13
(But whatever is visible to the Generated Man,
Is a Creation of mercy & love, from the Satanic Void.)

Always Grateful,