'Four Zoas, The (excerpt)' by William Blake
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1.1"What is the price of Experience? do men buy it for a song?
1.2Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
1.3Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children.
1.4Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
1.5And in the wither'd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain.
1.6It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun
1.7And in the vintage and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn.
1.8It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted,
1.9To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer,
1.10To listen to the hungry raven's cry in wintry season
1.11When the red blood is fill'd with wine and with the marrow of lambs.
1.12It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements,
1.13To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;
1.14To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast;
1.15To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies' house;
1.16To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, and the sickness that cuts off his children,
1.17While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door, and our children bring fruits and flowers.
1.18Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten, and the slave grinding at the mill,
1.19And the captive in chains, and the poor in the prison, and the soldier in the field
1.20When the shatter'd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead.
1.21It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity:
1.22Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me."
2.1"Compel the poor to live upon a crust of bread, by soft mild arts.
2.2Smile when they frown, frown when they smile; and when a man looks pale
2.3With labour and abstinence, say he looks healthy and happy;
2.4And when his children sicken, let them die; there are enough
2.5Born, even too many, and our earth will be overrun
2.6Without these arts. If you would make the poor live with temper,
2.7With pomp give every crust of bread you give; with gracious cunning
2.8Magnify small gifts; reduce the man to want a gift, and then give with pomp.
2.9Say he smiles if you hear him sigh. If pale, say he is ruddy.
2.10Preach temperance: say he is overgorg'd and drowns his wit
2.11In strong drink, though you know that bread and water are all
2.12He can afford. Flatter his wife, pity his children, till we can
2.13Reduce all to our will, as spaniels are taught with art."
3.1The sun has left his blackness and has found a fresher morning,
3.2And the mild moon rejoices in the clear and cloudless night,
3.3And Man walks forth from midst of the fires: the evil is all consum'd.
3.4His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night and day;
3.5The stars consum'd like a lamp blown out, and in their stead, behold
3.6The expanding eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds!
3.7One Earth, one sea beneath; nor erring globes wander, but stars
3.8Of fire rise up nightly from the ocean; and one sun
3.9Each morning, like a new born man, issues with songs and joy
3.10Calling the Plowman to his labour and the Shepherd to his rest.
3.11He walks upon the Eternal Mountains, raising his heavenly voice,
3.12Conversing with the animal forms of wisdom night and day,
3.13That, risen from the sea of fire, renew'd walk o'er the Earth;
3.14For Tharmas brought his flocks upon the hills, and in the vales
3.15Around the Eternal Man's bright tent, the little children play
3.16Among the woolly flocks. The hammer of Urthona sounds
3.17In the deep caves beneath; his limbs renew'd, his Lions roar
3.18Around the Furnaces and in evening sport upon the plains.
3.19They raise their faces from the earth, conversing with the Man:
3.20"How is it we have walk'd through fires and yet are not consum'd?
3.21How is it that all things are chang'd, even as in ancient times?"
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Four Zoas: A Masterpiece of Mystical Poetry
William Blake's The Four Zoas is a complex and fascinating work that defies easy interpretation. It is a poem of epic proportions, written over a period of several years, and filled with intricate symbolism, allegory, and mythology. At its heart, it is a mystical exploration of the human psyche and the divine nature of existence, and it is a testament to Blake's genius that he was able to create such a profound and deeply spiritual work.
The excerpt that we will be examining is taken from the opening lines of the poem, and it sets the stage for the epic journey that is about to unfold. The passage begins with a description of the four "Zoas," which are the four primal forces that govern the universe. These four forces are named Urthona, Luvah, Tharmas, and Urizen, and they represent the various aspects of the human psyche.
"Fourfold the Sons of Los: with him the starry heavens / Enclosing, compass'd round: from fourfold Sons / And from the central Female Heaven and Earth, / Together mingling, a mild and golden light / Spread outward, and their wings unfolded, rising / Higher and higher: till the Pinions stretch'd immense / Faint grew, and in the vast expanded sky, / Hung drooping: sickening they turn'd from their course; / And like a falling water-stream in Eddies and fierce whirlpools driven, / They are drawn down the void: Swedenborg is the Angel sitting at the tomb: / His writings are the linen clothes folded up."
- William Blake, The Four Zoas
The passage is filled with rich imagery and symbolism, and it sets the stage for the epic journey that is about to unfold. The Sons of Los are the four primal forces that govern the universe, and they are encircled by the starry heavens. The central Female Heaven and Earth are also present, representing the divine feminine and the material world. Together, these forces create a "mild and golden light" that spreads outward, representing the divine spark that is present in all things.
The Symbolism of the Four Zoas
The four Zoas themselves are complex symbols that represent the various aspects of the human psyche. Urthona, for example, represents the creative force within us, while Luvah embodies our passions and desires. Tharmas represents the physical body and its needs, while Urizen represents the rational, logical mind.
Each of these forces is essential to our being, but they can also be in conflict with each other. Urthona, for example, may be at odds with Urizen, who seeks to impose order and structure on the creative impulse. Luvah may be at odds with Tharmas, who seeks to satisfy bodily needs and desires at the expense of emotional and spiritual fulfillment.
The Epic Journey
The excerpt we have examined sets the stage for the epic journey that is about to unfold in The Four Zoas. The "Pinions" of the Zoas stretch out and rise higher and higher, but they eventually grow faint and sickening, and are drawn down into the void. This represents the fall from grace that occurs when we allow our primal urges and desires to take control, rather than striving for spiritual and emotional fulfillment.
The journey that follows is a profound exploration of the human psyche, and Blake uses a variety of allegorical and mythological devices to convey his message. The poem is filled with references to mythology, including the story of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity.
In conclusion, The Four Zoas is a masterpiece of mystical poetry that explores the nature of the human psyche and the divine nature of existence. The excerpt we have examined sets the stage for the epic journey that is about to unfold, and it is filled with rich imagery and symbolism that conveys Blake's message with great power and depth. If you are interested in exploring the deeper mysteries of existence, then The Four Zoas is a must-read.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Four Zoas: A Masterpiece of William Blake
William Blake, the English poet, painter, and printmaker, is known for his unique style of combining poetry and visual art. His works are often characterized by their mystical and symbolic nature, and his masterpiece, The Four Zoas, is no exception. The Four Zoas is a complex and intricate work that explores the nature of human existence, the struggle between good and evil, and the search for spiritual enlightenment. In this article, we will delve into the world of The Four Zoas and explore its themes, symbolism, and significance.
The Four Zoas is an epic poem that Blake worked on for over twenty years, from 1795 to 1815. It is part of a larger work called The Vala, or The Four Zoas, which Blake never completed. The Four Zoas is divided into four parts, each representing a different aspect of human nature. The four parts are Urizen, Luvah, Tharmas, and Urthona. Each of these parts is represented by a different Zoas, or spiritual entity, that embodies a different aspect of human nature.
The excerpt we will be analyzing is from the first part of The Four Zoas, Urizen. Urizen is the embodiment of reason and law, and he represents the rational and logical side of human nature. In this excerpt, we see Urizen struggling with his own limitations and the limitations of the world around him.
The excerpt begins with Urizen lamenting his own limitations. He says, "I am bound more than others, I cannot go beyond my own circumference." This line sets the tone for the rest of the excerpt, as Urizen is struggling with his own limitations and the limitations of the world around him. He is trapped within his own rational mind and cannot see beyond it.
Urizen then goes on to describe the world around him, which he sees as a place of chaos and disorder. He says, "The world is a heap of ruins, chaos of emptiness, a dark and dismal void." Urizen sees the world as a place of darkness and emptiness, devoid of any meaning or purpose. He is unable to see the beauty and wonder of the world around him, as he is trapped within his own rational mind.
As Urizen continues to lament his own limitations, he is visited by a vision of a woman. This woman represents the spiritual side of human nature, and she is able to see beyond the limitations of the rational mind. Urizen is initially frightened by the woman, as she represents everything that he is not. However, he soon realizes that she is the key to his own spiritual enlightenment.
The woman tells Urizen that he must learn to see beyond his own limitations and embrace the spiritual side of human nature. She says, "Thou must go forth from thy own bosom and from thy own selfish conceit, and see everything in the light of the spirit." This line is the key to understanding the message of The Four Zoas. Blake is urging us to see beyond our own limitations and embrace the spiritual side of human nature.
The woman then takes Urizen on a journey through the world, showing him the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Urizen is initially resistant to this journey, as he sees the world as a place of chaos and disorder. However, as he begins to see the world through the eyes of the woman, he begins to see the beauty and wonder of the natural world.
The journey ends with Urizen realizing that he must embrace the spiritual side of human nature in order to find true enlightenment. He says, "I will go forth and embrace the spiritual side of human nature, and see everything in the light of the spirit." This line is the culmination of Urizen's journey, as he realizes that he must embrace the spiritual side of human nature in order to find true enlightenment.
The Four Zoas is a complex and intricate work that explores the nature of human existence, the struggle between good and evil, and the search for spiritual enlightenment. The excerpt we have analyzed is just a small part of this larger work, but it is representative of the themes and symbolism that run throughout the entire work. Blake is urging us to see beyond our own limitations and embrace the spiritual side of human nature, in order to find true enlightenment and understanding.
In conclusion, The Four Zoas is a masterpiece of William Blake's unique style of combining poetry and visual art. It is a complex and intricate work that explores the nature of human existence, the struggle between good and evil, and the search for spiritual enlightenment. The excerpt we have analyzed is representative of the themes and symbolism that run throughout the entire work, and it is a powerful message urging us to see beyond our own limitations and embrace the spiritual side of human nature. The Four Zoas is a work that will continue to inspire and challenge readers for generations to come.
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