Monday, December 21, 2015


Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Copy C, Plate 22
On Plate 22 of the Book of Urizen which pictured all four of the elements, Blake gave us clues to how the Zoas were developing in his imagination. In copy C we see the most striking image of fire because of the coloring Blake chose. Of the four elements fire is one which is most active. It is unpredictable, capable of bringing about dramatic change, and it provides creative and destructive possibilities.

By associating Fire with the Zoa Luvah, Blake indicated the hazardous nature of his Zoa of emotion.

Milton Percival, in Blake's Circle of Destiny, introduces us to the Eternal Luvah who practices the joys of forgiveness, love and delight:

"For the moon of love signifies forgiveness of sin, the constant fulfilment of the religion of Jesus. No matter what mistakes may be committed, no matter how distraught the world may be, the solution of the problem, though unapparent to the mind at present, will eventually be found if only the emotions remain forgiving. For this reason Luvah shares with Urthona, another of the Zoas, the distinction of being a keeper of the gates of heaven.

'Mutual Forgiveness of each Vice Such are the Gates of Paradise'
But Luvah is more than forgiveness. He is the whole gamut of the emotions, especially the active emotions as opposed to the passive ones personified in Vala, his Emanation. Conspicuous among the active emotions is 'eternal delight' which Blake associated with energy. In his unfallen state, when energy was not yet restrained, Luvah is that delight - the characteristic Blakean joy that springs from a believing head, a loving heart, a creative imagination, and open vigorous senses. Therefore he is the cupbearer, serving the golden wine around the eternal tables." (Page 29)
Wikimedia Commons
Marriage of Heaven & Hell 
Plate 5

In his Eternal guise Luvah was privileged to be the cup bearer of the Eternals, and with Urthona was keeper of the gates of Heaven. But Luvah fell from his lofty height when he and Urizen plotted to change the arrangement of the psychological functions. This image from Marriage of Heaven & Hell portrays a fall of a man and his energies; his horse and his sword descend into the fiery excess of passion. We read about such a fall in the Four Zoas.

Four Zoas, Night V, Page 64, (E 344)
[Urizen speaks] 
"I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice
Saying O light spring up & shine & I sprang up from the deep  
He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown
& said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean       

I went not forth. I hid myself in black clouds of my wrath       
I calld the stars around my feet in the night of councils dark
The stars threw down their spears & fled naked away
We fell. I siezd thee dark Urthona In my left hand falling

I siezd thee beauteous Luvah thou art faded like a flower
And like a lilly is thy wife Vala witherd by winds               
When thou didst bear the golden cup at the immortal tables
Thy children smote their fiery wings crownd with the gold of heaven

PAGE 65 
Thy pure feet stepd on the steps divine. too pure for other feet
And thy fair locks shadowd thine eyes from the divine effulgence
Then thou didst keep with Strong Urthona the living gates of heaven
But now thou art bound down with him even to the gates of hell

Because thou gavest Urizen the wine of the Almighty             
For steeds of Light that they might run in thy golden chariot of pride
I gave to thee the Steeds   I pourd the stolen wine
And drunken with the immortal draught fell from my throne sublime"
The high regard which Blake held for the passions is revealed in this passage:

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 564)
"Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have
governd their Passions or have No Passions but because
they have Cultivated their Understandings.  The Treasures of
Heaven are not Negations of Passion but Realities of Intellect
from which All the Passions Emanate in their Eternal
Glory   The Fool shall not enter into Heaven let him be ever so
Holy.  Holiness is not The Price of Enterance into Heaven Those
who are cast out Are All Those who having no Passions of their
own because No Intellect.  Have spent their lives in Curbing &
Governing other Peoples by the Various arts of Poverty & Cruelty
of all kinds   Wo Wo Wo to you Hypocrites" 

Each of the Zoas was associated with a World in which his dominant principles were held. Luvah's World was Beulah which Damon tells us, was created by the Lamb 'as a refuge from the gigantic warfare of ideas in Eternity.' The gentle emotions of 'love & pity & sweet compassion' were the healing balm in Beulah for the exhausted, weak and terrified.
Milton, Plate 30 [33], (E 129)
"Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity; appearing
To the Inhabitants of Eden, around them on all sides.
But Beulah to its Inhabitants appears within each district       
As the beloved infant in his mothers bosom round incircled
With arms of love & pity & sweet compassion. But to
The Sons of Eden the moony habitations of Beulah,
Are from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant Rest."

The images of Fire which Blake engraved for the two versions of Gates of Paradise (For Children, and For the Sexes) show that he trusted emotions less as he aged because they 'end in endless strife.'
British Museum
For The Sexes: The Gates of Paradise

Copy B, Plate 9

British Museum
For Children: The Gates of Paradise
Copy B, Plate 7


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