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Monday, October 5, 2009


Click on this link: Image of the Four Zoas
This rare image of the Four Zoas together appears in the First Book of Urizen.

Blake pictures the four Eternals peering down in the unfinished world of Urizen as it divides, falling into the abyss. Most of the copies of this plate display only three of the Zoas. In Blake's characteristic way of allowing imagination to lead him as he creates his images, he has added the fourth Zoa, Tharmas to the other three in this late copy. You can compare six versions of the Book of Urizen, each distinctive, in the Blake Archive. 4Z'S in 6 Copies, Click here

Blake's characters have different appearances as they are represented at different levels of existence in his myth. Here they are represented at the level of the Eternals; although no physical representation at that spiritual level can be anything more than limited and false.

Nevertheless, we see Urizen on the right, looking down at his own fallen nature as it disintegrates in separation. His beard drags in the water of matter which is created as a result of his fall. Why is he old? Because he is conservatism which must always be replaced by the new and fresh.

Beside Urizen is Los, forever young, who joins Urizen in the descent in order to be the agent of the eventual return. Suggested by the fingers of Los touching the liquid below as if paint or ink were dripping from his hand, is an intimation of the role of imagination in the regeneration process

Next to the young Los, is another older gentleman, Luvah, who as the emotions, is a level early in physic development. Luvah becomes intimately involved in the struggle to limit the downward fall of Urizen and reverse the division in Albion. At various points Luvah works with or competes with Urizen or Los, but his service is to Jesus.

The Zoa who is missing in most of the images, Tharmas, is pictured as no more than a boy. The contradiction in the character Tharmas is that he is both the 'Parent Power' and the last to be named. Mary Lynn Johnson describes him as "innocence, instinct, the binding force of the human personality, and the body." (p. 206) Perhaps he is closer to the id than any other of the Zoas, and so closer to the child.

On the engraved plate, words and image work together to involve us in the fall - from the perspective of Eternity.

PLATE 15  of The Book of Urizen                                             
"Thus the Eternal Prophet was divided
Before the death-image of Urizen
For in changeable clouds and darkness
In a winterly night beneath,
The Abyss of Los stretch'd immense:
And now seen, now obscur'd, to the eyes
Of Eternals, the visions remote
Of the dark seperation appear'd.
As glasses discover Worlds
In the endless Abyss of space,
So the expanding eyes of Immortals
Beheld the dark visions of Los,
And the globe of life blood trembling"

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