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Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Four Zoas

A Subjective Reading
A Personal Experience

(A valued friend put me on to a discussion of 4Z found
on pages 203-32 of Blake's Sublime Allegory. Most
[or all?] of this post derives from that essay: On Reading the Four Zoas by Mary Lynn Johnson and Brian Wilkie. Hopefully there may be other posts to come on 4Z.)

"...we want most to encourage the sort of visceral and
personal response to this deeply introspective poem
that we believe Blake demands of his readers." (203)

"...we must recognize that the movement of the poem...yields its meaning in proportion to our
willingness to examine what happens within us."

After those lines on the first page the writers proceed
with a cursory statement of the plot; that's revealed
in the first page of 4Z:

"Four Mighty Ones are in every Man;
a Perfect Unity
(John XVII c. 21 & 22 & 23 v)

Cannot Exist. but from the Universal
Brotherhood of Eden
(John I c. 14. v)

The Universal Man. To Whom be
Glory Evermore Amen"
(John I c. 14. v)

The Universal Man of course is Albion-- representing
an eternal Great Britain, representing the people of
the world in Eternity, representing the perfect you.

"Albion looks up, rises from the rock in just wrath and is about to walk 'into the Heavens'" (Erdman)

The "Four Mighty Ones" (the four Zoas) are Tharmas,
Urthona, Urizen, and Luvah. Blake "begins with
Tharmas..", but before the "beginning " he tell us about
Los (the worldly version of Urthona), "Urthona was his
name", who represents here all the Zoas, in Eternity
with "days and nights of revolving joy", then the plot
is announced:

"His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity His
fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his
Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead."

It's the old, old story everyone can read in the Bible;
In 4Z Blake gave us his version of it -- one of course
of many.

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