Tuesday, March 09, 2010


The way I remember Larry first developing an interest in studying Blake was from a book we borrowed from the Arlington County Public Library. He had been studying Jung and this book on symbols mentioned that Jung's four functions corresponded to Blake's Four Zoas. With his attention directed to Blake, Larry seemed to 'fall in love'. Although at times he has pursued other interests, studying Blake has since been one of the constants in his life.

The book he originally read, I believe to be George Wingfield Digby's, Symbol and Image in William Blake. On page 26-27 Digby writes: "The 'Four Mighty Ones in every Man' (a phrase taken from 'The Four Zoas'), correspond with the four psychological functions as studied in analytical psychology. The correspondence is as follows. Water represents the body, that is the function of Sensation, Blake's 'Tharmas'; Earth stands for the Intuitive function, Blake's 'Los'; Air for the Thinking function, 'Urizen'; Fire for the feeling function, 'Luvah'. These four functions, or principles, or 'Living Creatures', are called by Blake the 'Four Zoas'. Their rivalries, combats, deprivations, and distress constitute a large part of Blake's myths as they unfold in the prophetic books, especially in 'The Four Zoas'. Blake throughout is  intent on describing, by means of symbols and images, psychological states and conflicts, and their solution. The understanding of the Four Elements in this symbolic, psychological way is not peculiar to Blake but has a long tradition behind it, both in Western and Eastern thought."

Here is a passage from Jerusalem which presents some of the symbols Blake associated with his Four Zoas.

Jerusalem, Plate 97, (E 256)
"So spake the Vision of Albion & in him so spake in my hearing
The Universal Father. Then Albion stretchd his hand into
And took his Bow. Fourfold the Vision for bright beaming Urizen
Layd his hand on the South & took a breathing Bow of carved Gold

Luvah his hand stretch'd to the East & bore a Silver Bow bright shining

Tharmas Westward a Bow of Brass pure flaming richly wrought

Urthona Northward in thick storms a Bow of Iron terrible thundering."

On Plate 92 of Jerusalem we find Jerusalem awakening in human form, surrounded by four sleeping heads: the Four Zoas, almost ready for their resurrection to properly functioning parts of the giant Albion.

And from Milton, Plate 1, (E 95):

"Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!"

In a later post I'll chart some the correspondences of Blake's Fourfold Vision and characters in Greek mythology, and correspondences of other aspects of modern psychological categories.

Other posts on fourfold in Blake include these: Fourfold.

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