Saturday, February 27, 2016


First published by Larry on Thursday, May 13, 2010.

Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations to Poems of Thomas Gray
Sam Jones was the South's most famous preacher in the late nineteenth century. Jones preached one sermon that Dad really liked and put in his sermon notebook; it was called "Quit your Meanness".

St. Paul used more elegant language: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13). That verse, prominent in my memory for many years, acquired new poignancy the other day as I was contemplating Blake's Selfhood: annihilate it!

The Selfhood goes in the circular file, but neither Blake nor you and I could do that overnight; oh no! We had to work it out with fear and trembling. The Spectre is the Selfhood, and Blake wrote:

"My spectre around me night and day
Like a wild beast guards my way;"

in the poem that has been discussed so often in this blog.

Blake had to discover his preconceived notions, his pet peeves, his resentments of everyone from Bacon, Newton, and Locke to Hayley. Once he discovered them and confessed his error, that aspect of his Selfhood was annihilated, and the Last Judgment fell upon him. In Plate 98, near the end of Jerusalem and of his poetry he joined Bacon and Newton and Locke with those he had always loved, Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer. It was the testimony of a happy man.

C. S. Lewis, near the end of his greatest story, Till We Have Faces, shared his Vision of that Eternal 'Moment'. Lewis had issues with Blake because of his own orthodoxy. But my vision of him is that Blake's poetry and George MacDonald's spirit had done their work in the end, enabling Lewis to envision the graduation to Eternity of "turk and jew":

"And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk or jew.
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too"

Blake has said that "every death is an improvement in the state of the departed."

He must have substantially completed the long drawn out procedure of confessing his sins and experiencing forgiveness during mortal life because he died a very happy man.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


The family member to whom William Blake was most attached was his brother Robert who was five years younger than he. Robert shared William's interest in art. A Robert Blake was accepted into the Royal Academy in 1782 but his date of birth does not match the probable birth date of William's brother. What is known about  William's brother is that he made drawings which influenced William. We know also, from the 1863 Gilchrist biography, that when Robert lay dying at the age of 19, William nursed him constantly for two weeks without rest and then watched as his brother's spirit ascended heavenward.

One of Blake's first experiments in relief etching reflects a drawing attributed to Robert by Gilchrist on the authority of Tatham, who acquired the residue of Blake's work on the death of Catherine Blake.

British Museum
Sketch by Robert Blake
Approach of Doom

British Museum
Engraving by William Blake
Approach of Doom

The experience of the death of his beloved brother confirmed Blake's belief in immortality. The spiritual presence of his brother remained real to Blake throughout his life. The notebook in which Robert had made sketches was treasured by William after his brother's death. William sketched and wrote notes and drafts of his poems in the hand-me-down notebook from his brother until every available space was filled with the inspirations which came to him.
Letters, (E 705)
[To] William Hayley Esqr, Eartham,
near Chichester, Sussex
Lambeth May 6 1800.  
Dear Sir
     I am very sorry for your immense loss, which is a repetition
of what all feel  in this valley of misery & happiness mixed--I
send the Shadow of the departed Angel.  hope the likeness is
improved.  The lip I have again lessened as  you advised & done a
good many other softenings to the whole--I know that  our
deceased friends are more really with us than when they were
apparent  to our mortal part.  Thirteen years ago.  I lost a
brother & with his spirit I  converse daily & hourly in the
Spirit.  & See him in my remembrance in the  regions of my
Imagination.  I hear his advice & even now write from his
Dictate--Forgive me for expressing to you my Enthusiasm which I
wish all to  partake of Since it is to me a Source of Immortal
Joy even in this world by it  I am the companion of Angels.  May
you continue to be so more & more & to  be more & more perswaded. 
that every Mortal loss is an Immortal Gain.  The  Ruins of Time
builds Mansions in Eternity.--I have also sent A Proof of 
Pericles for your Remarks thanking you for the kindness with
which you  Express them & feeling heartily your Grief with a
brothers Sympathy 
I remain Dear Sir Your humble Servant

Perhaps more unusual than the spiritual consolation Blake felt from Robert's constant presence, was the practical assistance which William acknowledged that he received from his brother as he worked out the technique for producing his illuminated engraved books.

This passage about William's struggle to invent a way to publish his graphic work with accompanying text is from page 70 of The Life of William Blake by Alexander Gilchrist:

"He had not the wherewithal to publish on his 
own account; and though he could be his own engraver, 
he could scarcely be his own compositor. Long and deeply 
he meditated. How solve this difficulty with his own in- 
dustrious hands? How be his own printer and publisher? 
The subject of anxious daily thought passed — as anxious 
meditation does with us all — into the domain of dreams 
and (in his case) of visions. In one of these a happy In- 
spiration befell, not, of course, without supernatural agency. 
After intently thinking by day and dreaming by night 
during long weeks and months, of his cherished objective the 
image of the vanished pupil and brother at last blended 
with it. In a vision of the night, the form of Robert 
stood before him, and revealed the wished-for secret 
directing him to the technical mode by which could be 
produced a fac-simile of song and design. On his rising 
in the morning, Mrs. Blake went out with half-a-crown, 
all the money they had in the world, and of that laid
Is. 10d. on the simple materials necessary for setting in 
practice the new revelation. Upon that investment at 
Is. 10d. he started what was to prove a principal means of 
support through his future life, — the series of poems and 
writings illustrated by coloured plates, often highly finished
afterwards by hand, — which became the most efficient and 
durable means of revealing Blake's genius to the world. 
This method, to which Blake henceforth consistently 
adhered for multiplying his works, was quite an original
one. It consisted in a species of engraving in relief both 
words and designs. The verse was written and the designs 
and marginal embellishments outlined on the copper with 
an impervious liquid, probably the ordinary stopping-out 
varnish of engravers. Then all the white parts or lights, 
the remainder of the plate that is, were eaten away with 
aquafortis or other acid, so that the outline of letter and 
design was left prominent, as in stereotype. From these 
plates he printed off in any tint, yellow, brown, blue, 
required to be the prevailing, or ground colour in his fac- 
similes ; red he used for the letter-press. The page was 
then coloured up by hand in imitation of the original 
drawing, with more or less variety of detail in the local 

It is believed that Blake may have included the instructions for creating his illuminated books in Island in the Moon but removed them to maintain secrecy. He left this fanciful passage about how lucrative the process might prove to be.
An Island in the Moon, (E 465)
"them Illuminating the Manuscript--Ay said she that would be
excellent.  Then said he I would have all the writing Engraved
instead of Printed & at every other leaf a high finishd print all
in three Volumes folio, & sell them a hundred pounds a piece.
they would Print off two thousand   then said she whoever will
not have them will be ignorant fools & will not deserve to live"  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


New York Public Library Milton
Plate 10, Copy C
Ulro is the internal condition of blackness, opacity, and darkness which occurs when the Divine Vision is lost. It is the abode of Satan and those who are in the state of Satan. It is entered into from Beulah when Eternity falls 'in love with the productions of time.' Through the failure of Love to maintain Faith it is experienced as a fall into the void outside of existence where no light penetrates. The return to Beulah and Eden from Ulro is through Generation which is provided as a mercy by the 'ever pitying one who sees all things.'

Milton O Percival in William Blake's Circle of Destiny explains Ulro in this way:

"Nevertheless the potentialities for descent are inherent in Beulah. Danger lies in the space by which the indefinite is put off.

The nature of a Female Space is this: it shrinks the
Organs Of Life till they become Finite & Itself seems Infinite.

In short, the illusions of Beulah are taken for the reality. The portion is taken for the whole. The circumscribed belief becomes infinite and eternal, the senses shrink to the organic level, and correspondingly, the physical form appears real.

With the acceptance of space as real, 'Satanic spaces' make their appearance. Unlike the spaces of Beulah, which are illusory but evanescent, the Satanic spaces of Ulro look to their own perpetuation. Within them the phenomenal world (both ethical and physical) struggles to be taken for the real; the outer form declares itself to be more important than the inner spirit. Instead of returning the mind, after a temporary confinement in some limiting but evanescent and therefore merciful space, to the visionary reality, these spaces attempt to have their temporal illusions accepted as permanent realities.
The flexible spaces of Beulah here become 'perturbed, black and deadly.' Everything within this world is 'without internal light.' The souls which inhabit it have 'neither lineament nor form.' Satan whose world it is, is 'opaque, immeasurable.' ... The incoherence of Ulro is Blake's analogue for the primal chaos. Both await the shaping of the creative imagination."    

Milton, Plate 9, (E 103)
"Thus Satan rag'd amidst the Assembly! and his bosom grew     
Opake against the Divine Vision: the paved terraces of
His bosom inwards shone with fires, but the stones becoming opake!
Hid him from sight, in an extreme blackness and darkness,
And there a World of deeper Ulro was open'd, in the midst
Of the Assembly. In Satans bosom a vast unfathomable Abyss."

Milton, Plate 14 [15], (E 108)
"Then Milton rose up from the heavens of Albion ardorous!         
The whole Assembly wept prophetic, seeing in Miltons face
And in his lineaments divine the shades of Death & Ulro
He took off the robe of the promise, & ungirded himself from the oath of God

And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death! The Nations still
Follow after the detestable Gods of Priam; in pomp               
Of warlike selfhood, contradicting and blaspheming.
When will the Resurrection come; to deliver the sleeping body
From corruptibility: O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come?
Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave.       
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks!
I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death,
Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate
And I be siez'd & giv'n into the hands of my own Selfhood
The Lamb of God is seen thro' mists & shadows, hov'ring          
Over the sepulchers in clouds of Jehovah & winds of Elohim
A disk of blood, distant; & heav'ns & earth's roll dark between
What do I here before the Judgment? without my Emanation?
With the daughters of memory, & not with the daughters of inspiration[?]
I in my Selfhood am that Satan: I am that Evil" 

Milton, Plate 19 [21], (E 112)
"They are the Four Zoas that stood around the Throne Divine!
But when Luvah assum'd the World of Urizen to the South:
And Albion was slain upon his  mountains, & in his tent;     
All fell towards the Center in dire ruin, sinking down.
And in the South remains a burning fire; in the East a void.
In the West, a world of raging waters; in the North a solid,
Unfathomable! without end. But in the midst of these,
Is built eternally the Universe of Los and Enitharmon:       
Towards which Milton went, but Urizen oppos'd his path."

Milton, Plate 29 [31], (E 127)
"And if he move his dwelling-place, his heavens also move.
Wher'eer he goes & all his neighbourhood bewail his loss:
Such are the Spaces called Earth & such its dimension:
As to that false appearance which appears to the reasoner,       
As of a Globe rolling thro Voidness, it is a delusion of Ulro"

Milton, Plate 41 [48], (E 142)
"Then trembled the Virgin Ololon & replyd in clouds of despair

Is this our Feminine Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female      
Terribly this Portion trembles before thee O awful Man
Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions
Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot: but flies into the Ulro.
Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity! & now remembrance
Returns upon us! are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I            
O Immortal! how were we led to War the Wars of Death
Is this the Void Outside of Existence, which if enterd into
Becomes a Womb? & is this the Death Couch of Albion
Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee"                 

Milton, Plate 10 [11], (E 104)
"Every thing in Eternity shines by its own Internal light: but thou
Darkenest every Internal light with the arrows of thy quiver
Bound up in the borns of jealousy to a deadly fading Moon
And Ocalythron binds the Sun into a Jealous Globe
That every thing is fixd Opake without Internal light         

So Los lamented over Satan, who triumphant divided the Nations"

Four Zoas, Night VI, PAGE 71 (SECOND PORTION), (E 348)
"He [Urizen] could not take their fetters off for they grew from the soul
Nor could he quench the fires for they flamd out from the heart
Nor could he calm the Elements because himself was Subject
So he threw his flight in terror & pain & in repentant tears

When he had passd these southern terrors he approachd the East   
Void pathless beaten With iron sleet & eternal hail & rain
No form was there no living thing & yet his way lay thro
This dismal world. he stood a while & lookd back oer his former
Terrific voyage. Hills & Vales of torment & despair
Sighing & Wiping a fresh tear. then turning round he threw       
Himself into the dismal void. falling he fell & fell
Whirling in unresistible revolutions down & down
In the horrid bottomless vacuity falling failing falling
Into the Eastern vacuity the empty world of Luvah

The ever pitying one who seeth all things saw his fall           
And in the dark vacuity created a bosom of clay 
When wearied dead he fell his limbs reposd in the bosom of slime
As the seed falls from the sowers hand so Urizen fell & death
Shut up his powers in oblivion. then as the seed shoots forth
In pain & sorrow. So the slimy bed his limbs renewd"              

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Wikimedia Commons
Plate 4

W. P. Witcutt in 1946 wrote a book titled Blake: A Psychological Study. Whatever Witcutt may have lacked in objectivity, he made up for in devotion to his personal insights. As a Jungean psychologist he attempted to fit Blake's thought into the framework of Jung's system with varying degrees of success

In trying to explain how Blake arrived at the images which peopled his poetry, Witcutt identified Blake as an intuitive introvert: intuitive as the dominant function in Blake's psyche, and introvert as the orientation to which he turned for meaning. On Page 23 we read:

"The introvert, on the contrary, is turned inward towards the inner world of his own soul. His thoughts are rationalizations of the symbols of the unconscious, not spun from the common experiences of others or from the outside world; his feelings and sensations (if either of these is his dominant function) spring from the same source; and if he is intuitive, he sees the archetypes of the unconscious clearly and vividly in his mind's eye. To the intuitive introvert the world of the imagination is far more vivid than the world of outer reality.
In an illuminating example, Blake tells how introverted intuition works:

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
"I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me. What it
will be Questiond When the Sun rises  do  you  not  see  a  round 
Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable
company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord
God Almighty I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any
more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight I look
thro it & not with it."  

Contrasting Blake's approach of presenting his work to that of one with dominate thinking function, Witcutt on Page 82 wrote:

"The man of dominant thought would write out these psychological events in his own abstract terminology; but to the intuitive introvert such as Blake or Shelly they appear as the conflicts of awesome figures. The commentators on Blake have usually been men of dominant thought; and from them one gains the impression that Blake first thought out these matters as they would have done, in abstract terminology of 'law' or 'desire' and so forth; and then (because he was writing in poetry) turned the abstractions into symbolic poetic figures. That is not in the least how one of Blake's temperament works. The figures first of all appeared in his imaginative vision just like a vivid dream, and enacted their dreamlike conflicts, made their speeches. It was afterwards that he puzzled, wondering, over what could be the meaning of their symbolic actions; and gave them names. His first instinct was to draw what he had seen; thus it is that Blake's poetry is really a commentary on his engravings."

The focus of Witcutt's book was on the internal dynamics of the psyche and on what the images Blake created told him, and tell us about integrating one's divided factions. On Page 124 Witcutt identified Blake's characters with dream-symbols:

"The intuitive introvert is the symbolist par excellence. He lives in a dream-world where symbols have in waking life as much vitality and meaning as to ordinary men in dreams. Like the madman he lives in a continual waking dream, but unlike the madman he knows the dream-symbols for the product of the imagination and can use them for the delight of others. To him the symbols appear as unrelated to anything else; they live their own lives as unearthly semi-divine figures seen in the minds eye...It is something never seen on earth."

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 560)
"If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy   General
Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom
consists & Happiness too. 
Milton, Plate 2, (E 96)  
"Three Classes are Created by the Hammer of Los, & Woven 
PLATE 3,                                                 
By Enitharmons Looms when Albion was slain upon his Mountains
And in his Tent, thro envy of Living Form, even of the Divine Vision
And of the sports of Wisdom in the Human Imagination
Which is the Divine Body of the Lord Jesus, blessed for ever.
Mark well my words. they are of your eternal salvation:      

Urizen lay in darkness & solitude, in chains of the mind lock'd up
Los siezd his Hammer & Tongs; he labourd at his resolute Anvil

Among indefinite Druid rocks & snows of doubt & reasoning.

Refusing all Definite Form, the Abstract Horror roofd. stony hard.
And a first Age passed over & a State of dismal woe:" 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Blake's Women

This is a reposting of Larry's June 29, 2007 post with a picture added.

Rossetti Archive
Copied by Fred J Shields from Blake's Notebook
 From sketches in Blake's Notebook which came to be known as the Rossetti Manuscript.

This is not about Catherine, Blake's wife, with whom he lived in happy conjugal relationship for 40 years (her only complaint was that he spent too much time in heaven).

Nor is it about the fictional Catherine, who only serves to titillate the gossip lover.

Nor is it about Mary Wollencraft, although the story goes that William once proposed to Catherine that he bring Mary in as a concubine; Catherine cried, and William abandoned the idea. Blake hated and despised 'jealousy', but it seems that Catherine's jealousy on this occasion solidified a very solid marriage relationship.
None of these, this post is about the women Blake met in heaven:

Thel was a kind of foretaste of the women to come; she exposed the seediness of mortal life and went back to heaven. In her life Blake posed the question 'is mortal life of any value?' (Raine).

Lyca is a microcosm of the three main women that Blake met in heaven. In Plate 6, 7, and 8 read two ethereally beautiful poems that reveal the kernel of the 'system' Blake developed after he said, "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's".

Vala is the main woman in Blake's myth (The Four Zoas was originally named Vala). In the development of his story Blake splits Vala into two: Tirzah (the earthly woman) and Jerusalem (the heavenly one).
In To Tirzah Blake starkly presents the dichotomy:


"[Woman], what have I do to with thee?".

From a purely material viewpoint Blake has Jesus say this to his mother, actually a quotation from the Gospel of John 2:4. From a more significant viewpoint the woman represents mortality (Mary was his mortal mother). Jesus of course is something other than mortal. From the most significant viewpoint Blake is talking about you and me: we are made of clay, but an immortal spirit resides within the 'matter'.

Jerusalem of course is the obvious biblical metaphor for the "bride of Christ" and the heavenly (eternal) kingdom.

Monday, February 08, 2016


Plate 4
Enlarged Segment
Blake lived through an age of revolution. He was 19 years old when the American colonies declared their independence from the British Empire. When he was 36 the French executed their monarch. He observed the cycle and consequences of revolution at home and abroad. Blake's character Orc was developed in response to his observation of actual revolution.

Blake's first mention of Orc by name is in the Preludium to America published in 1793. Orc is portrayed as having reached maturity, burst his bonds a restraint and exploded into Revolution.


Yale Center for British Art
Copy A, Plate 18
To Blake Orc originated through Los and Enitharmon. Los personified the voice of prophecy which spoke God's word to an alienated world. Enitharmon represented the world to which the prophecy was spoken. Their child Orc choose to ally himself with Enitharmon and her world. Orc like his father sought change but he hadn't the self restraint of Los. Orc's revolutionary powers were pitted against Urizen's restrictive efforts to construct a world which could not accommodate the unpredictability of imagination. Orc, however, eventually submitted to Urizen's dictates. Allied with Urizen's life-denying thinking, Orc's emotion-driven activities degenerated into terrorism and anarchy.


Yale Center for British Art
Plate 12, Copy A
In Fearful Symmetry Northrop Frye states on page 217:
"Revolution attracts sympathy more because it is revolution than because of what it proposes to substitute... But as Orc stiffens into Urizen, it becomes manifest that the world is so constituted that no cause can triumph in it and still preserve its imaginative integrity. The imagination is mental, and never has a preponderance of physical force on its side."
Frye continues with this quote from Blake:  

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 564)  "The Whole Creation Groans to be deliverd there will always be as many Hypocrites born as Honest Men & they will always have superior Power in Mortal Things You cannot have Liberty in this World without what you call Moral Virtue & you cannot have Moral Virtue without the Slavery of that half of the Human Race who hate what you call Moral Virtue"
Paul had stated in the New Testament that we wait in hope for the ultimate transformation which will not come about by use of physical force.  
Romans 8
[22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
[23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
[24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
[25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 3, Copy A
Four Zoas, Night V, Page 60, (E 340)
"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" 
Milton, Plate 18 [20], (E 111)
"Orc answerd. Take not the Human Form O loveliest. Take not
Terror upon thee! Behold how I am & tremble lest thou also
Consume in my Consummation; but thou maist take a Form
Female & lovely, that cannot consume in Mans consummation
Wherefore dost thou Create & Weave this Satan for a Covering[?]  
When thou attemptest to put on the Human Form, my wrath  
Burns to the top of heaven against thee in Jealousy & Fear.
Then I rend thee asunder, then I howl over thy clay & ashes
When wilt thou put on the Female Form as in times of old
With a Garment of Pity & Compassion like the Garment of God      
His garments are long sufferings for the Children of Men
Jerusalem is his Garment & not thy Covering Cherub O lovely
Shadow of my delight who wanderest seeking for the prey."

So spoke Orc when Oothoon & Leutha hoverd over his Couch"
Milton, Plate 29 [31], (E 127)
"But Rintrah & Palamabron govern over Day & Night
In Allamanda & Entuthon Benython where Souls wail:
Where Orc incessant howls burning in fires of Eternal Youth,
Within the vegetated mortal Nerves; for every Man born is joined 
Within into One mighty  Polypus, and this Polypus is Orc.

But in the Optic vegetative Nerves Sleep was transformed
To Death in old time by Satan the father of Sin & Death
And Satan is the Spectre of Orc & Orc is the generate Luvah"
Milton, Plate 40 [46], (E 141)
"I heard Ololon say to Milton

I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread
And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years.   
I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas;
The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving
In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies"

Northrop Frye, Fearful Symmetry on Page 218:
"Orc is completely bound to the cyclic wheel of life. He cannot represent an entry into the new world, but only the power of renewing an exhausted form of the old one."

Christopher Z Hobson
The Chained Boy: Orc and Blake's Idea of Revolution

Monday, February 01, 2016


British Museum
Small Book of Designs
'Is the Female death/Become new Life
Since we have considered each of the Zoas individually and have looked at three of the Emanations, we have some familiarity with Enitharmon from her associations. She and Los have been described as the twin children of Enion. She, like Los is physically active in the world we know, the world of generation. She and Los, as Space and Time, provide the conditions, in fact, which allow the world of matter to exist. Although they are the framework of the generated world they are also participants in its development and play essential roles in bringing about redemption of fallen mankind.
Jerusalem, Plate 14, (E 158)
"Los also views the Four Females:
Ahania, and Enion, and Vala, and Enitharmon lovely.              
And from them all the lovely beaming Daughters of Albion,
Ahania & Enion & Vala, are three evanescent shades:
Enitharmon is a vegetated mortal Wife of Los:
His Emanation, yet his Wife till the sleep of death is past."
Enitharmon and Los are the parents of a fiery, rebellious child named Orc, whose inclination is to bring about change by aggressive means. More will be said about this in a post about Orc.
Two events involving Enitharmon are decisive in determining the course of Blake's myth. Both events fracture the relationship between Los and Enitharmon and both have implications for man's fall from Eternity. 

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 85, Copy E
The first event is the striking of Enitharmon by Los. The blow which Los struck was not unprovoked but it was decisive. It fractured the possibility of Enitharmon trusting Los completely. Although Los regretted his action and tried to make amends it remained with him as a source of self-contempt. The labels of terror and woe for these two characters can be seen to originate in this incident.

Blake attributed to Enitharmon's reaction the 18 hundred year of dominance of Christianity by the feminine, outward and material from the time of the crucifixion to Blake's day. Los or Prophecy forced his outer manifestation into a false premise in the material world. Enitharmon turned away from Los and toward Urizen adopting the mistaken ideas that 'woman's love is sin', that Eternity is only experienced after life on earth, and that all joy is forbidden.

Wikimedia Commons
Plate 9
The second decisive event is the breaking of Enitharmon's heart over the jealousy of and punishment of her son Orc by Los. Enitharmon reacted to her heartbreak by asserting her independence and influencing the development of the world according to principles which maintained the separations which Los struggled to mend. 

Pictured is Enitharmon awaking Orc at the end of her night of joy.
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 87, (E 369) 
"Los trembling answerd Now I feel the weight of stern repentance
Tremble not so my Enitharmon at the awful gates    
Of thy poor broken Heart I see thee like a shadow withering
As on the outside of Existence but look! behold! take comfort!
Turn inwardly thine Eyes & there behold the Lamb of God
Clothed in Luvahs robes of blood descending to redeem
O Spectre of Urthona take comfort O Enitharmon   
Couldst thou but cease from terror & trembling & affright
When I appear before thee in forgiveness of ancient injuries  
Why shouldst thou remember & be afraid. I surely have died in pain
Often enough to convince thy jealousy & fear & terror
Come hither be patient let us converse together because  
I also tremble at myself & at all my former life

Enitharmon answerd I behold the Lamb of God descending
To Meet these Spectres of the Dead I therefore fear that he
Will give us to Eternal Death fit punishment for such
Hideous offenders Uttermost extinction in eternal pain    
An ever dying life of stifling & obstruction shut out
Of existence to be a sign & terror to all who behold
Lest any should in futurity do as we have done in heaven
Such is our state nor will the Son of God redeem us but destroy

PAGE 98 [90] 
So Enitharmon spoke trembling & in torrents of tears"