Monday, November 26, 2018

Myth in Blake 4


Continuing the description of the The Four Zoas from Larry's Ram Horn'd with Gold we learn of the Zoas - Tharmas, Urthona, Urizon and Luvah. When in the Book of Urizen Blake pictured the elements - water, earth, air and fire - he gave us images to associate with the Zoas. 

University of Adalaide Book of Urizen Plate 24

The first four nights of this aborted masterpiece recount the fall of each of the four zoas: Tharmas, the body; Luvah, the feelings; Urizen, the mind; and finally Urthona (Los), the imagination or spirit.. These four steps in the fall of Man contain a wealth of rich detail, but one central event Blake described repeatedly in the words of various characters: Urizen and Luvah (Mind and Feeling) struggle for dominion over the sleeping man, Albion. Luvah seizes Urizen's steeds of light and mounts into the sky. Urizen retreats into the north, the rightful place of Urthona, the imagination. These mistakes lead to a long sequence of cataclysmic disasters that condemn mankind to his fallen condition. For six nights we read an almost unrelieved account of the Fall; we read about falling, about fallenness, described in voluminous detail in a hundred ways. Blake felt intensely that we have come a long, long way from the Garden, and he explored with exceeding minuteness every step of the dismal journey, down and out.


We can begin our orientation to the poem by looking closely at what I have called the central event of the Fall. Blake put it in the mouths of several characters and each one has his or her own particular slant. The reader has to decide for himself whose account to believe. This may depend upon the reader as much as it does upon Blake.


The earliest description of the central event comes in the words of Enitharmon, a notoriously untrustworthy character at this point; we may call her the Queen of fallen space. In a conversation with her consort, Los, the prophetic boy, she gives her interpretation of the Fall:


Four Zoas, Night I, Page 1, (E 305)

“Hear! I will sing a Song of Death! it is a Song of Vala!

The Fallen Man takes his repose, Urizen sleeps in the porch,

Luvah & Vala wake & fly up from the Human Heart

Into the brain from thence; upon the pillow Vala slumber'd,

And Luvah seized the Horses of Light & rose into the Chariot of Day

Sweet laughter seized me in my sleep...”

The Fallen Man takes his repose, Urizen sleeps in the porch,

Luvah & Vala wake & fly up from the Human Heart

Into the brain from thence; upon the pillow Vala slumber'd,

And Luvah seized the Horses of Light & rose into the Chariot of Day

Sweet laughter seized me in my sleep...”

No comments: