Tag Archive: Los


Religion stifles the expression of man as it contributes to a more logical way of thinking and keeps them from looking deeper into the depths of one’s imagination. With imagination, one opens to a world where creativity guides the mind without the need to overthink it. In the article Young William Blake and the Moravian Tradition of Visionary Art by Marsha Keith Schuchard, they take a look at the Moravian tradition and speak about the arts in the way that take the logic from them. She states that “the hymns of the Moravians are full of ardent expressions, tender complaints, and animated prayers; these were my delight. As soon as I could write and spell, I imitated them, and before I was thirteen I had filled a little volume with sacred poems.” There is this emotional invocation from the “expressions” and “complaints” having of a more subjective approach to the arts. These arts become “sacred poems” that continuously interlock with one’s life hence making this a more personal connection with the reader than that of the act of logic. It is here that William Blake makes a separation between imagination and reason or how he likes to call them Los and Urizen. The two serve to be more of the classifications of humanity and their split in them from being truthful. As seen in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, he states “The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence and now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth the causes of its life and the sources of all activity, but the chains are, the cunning of weak and tame minds which have power to resist energy”(). It is here that Blake mentions again the split of logic and imagination and one of them tends to restrict man from their truths. They are like two opposite ends of a rope and there is always someone tugging at them trying to sway them one way or another. It is possible that maybe having these two forces pull at them that they could learn to use both in order to expose further realistic themes in life. It again reflects the ideas that Reynolds presented in my past blog post about duality and the need to understand two sides.

-Alexis Blanco

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Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was a religious reformer better known for as a bishop of the Moravian church. He along with other Moravian followers believed in the the importance of our five senses, and the idea that attaining a relationship with God lies not in following order and practices, but through more of a spiritual experience, body and soul can we truly get closer to god. Marsha Keith Schuchard’s article focuses on the potential Moravian beliefs Blake may have had by close reading some of his work. Schuchard describes that “…pious and self-righteous standards of behavior, which led to hypocrisy and joylessness, were not proper expressions of Christian worship” according to Moravian beliefs (Schuchard, 85). She further explains that Moravians instead beileved in the concept of Herzensreligion (religion of the heart) in order to help us “sensate Jesus’s love and to identify with his wounds…” (86).

From what we already know of Blake, he believed that in order to achieve the true poetic genius, we must stray from Urizen, which thus leads us closer to Los. By looking at Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, we can observe certain passages which not only emphasize the idea of Urizen and Los, but portray Blake as a Moravian believer. Specifically in the passage where he tells us of a conversation he has with the prophet Isaiah, he says “Isaiah answer’d “I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover’d the infinite in everything…” (Blake, 74). The idea of the senses is emphasized here, by Isaiah denying that God exists in a solid, bodily form, which most people make him out to be. We can see this by the many religious depictions of God himself through art such as paintings, sculptures, etc. Blake here illuminates the idea that God exists in an “infinite” form. In order to truly be one with God or the “infinite”, we must be spiritually connected to our five senses. By embracing what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell, we will not only discover God’s true form, but we would finally have achieved Los in which Blake highly stresses us to reach . 

Although there are other passages within The Marriage of Heaven and Hell which leads us to believe Blake was a Moravian believer, this specific passage truly captures that essence because Blake portrays a biblical prophet as his own infernal opposite.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

Re-volution or the End of History?

For this Wednesday (10/23), students have the option to write a post on ONE of the four prompt questions:

1. Why does Blake deviate from the Biblical account in making Adam and Noah contemporaries? (SoL, Plate 3; 6, 7; p. 109)

 

2. What is the significance of Urizen’s weeping at the end of “Asia”? (Plate 7, line 42; p. 112).  How does this moment compare to Urizen’s earlier weeping in the “Africa” section (plate 4, line 17; page 110)?

 

3. What is the symbolic significance of creepy, crawly insects, worms, and serpents in Blake’s Europe, a Prophecy and A Song of Los?

 

4.   Does the line “The Tigers couch upon the prey & suck the ruddy tide” (Europe 18/15:7; page 106) allude to a Moravian view of Christianity or, literally, to images of fearful tigers in other Blake poems (such as “The Tyger” for instance)?

 

Or, students can formulate their own question prompt about a specific line, image, theme, or motif from The Song of Los, and then provide their own answer in a post.  Please categorize under “Urizen’s Tears” and don’t forget to create specific tags.

The Epic War

Los and Orc serve to be an interesting combination for Blake’s prophecy. Los being a representation of the Creative Poetic Genius and Orc serving as Revolution in the Material World work together to spread the spirit of revolution, eternalized by the Poetic Genius, throughout the “vineyards of red France” (106). It is Blake’s, taking the form of the Blacksmith Los, to have revolution continue and not be constrained as Orc has been bound by Enitharmon–his mother–for most of the work.

Orc–the son–serves to be a means for Los–the father–so that people can access the Poetic Genius. For Blake’s ideal revolution, one that does not merely deteriorate as it progresses and is then restrained by a new and corruptible system, Los and Orc must be together. The pair represent Blake’s hope of an ideal revolution in his work, or at least how he hopes the revolution will play out. Their portrayal as warriors fighting an epic battle is Blake’s effort to symbolically demonstrate what he is doing in his work–waging war with the corrupted system.

Blake wishes to overturn the corrupted system in France with the spirit of revolution, Orc, and wishes to diminish any chance of the system returning through the Poetic Genius, Los. However, one issue comes to mind: Europe was published right in the beginning of the French Revolution–1794–so Blake obviously sees the potential of the Revolution; my question though: is it possible that Blake could foresee the imminent deterioration of the Revolution in favor of a new system? Or was he fully on board with the French Revolution being the spiritual revolution that he hoped for? The reason I ask is that Blake ends his prophecy with the beginning of the war cry of Los, but does not seek to go further. This is why I ask if Blake is having second thoughts–any thoughts on the matter?

Blake Dictionary p.246: LOS is Poetry, the expression in this world of the Creative Imagination.

Blake Dictionary p.309: ORC is Revolution in the material world.

The father-son relationship of Los and Orc symbolizes an important causation. Los is Poetry and imagination, which is the Poetic Genius. By experiencing and expressing Poetic Genius, people will see beyond the contraries and recognize the need of a revolution in the material world. Thus, just like the father-son relationship, poetry and imagination are forms to achieve Revolution.

However, Los also has to prepare for the epic war because the revolution brought by Orc is not enough. Los, the father, symbolizes the progression beyond Orc. The revolution brought by Orc is represented as the French Revolution: “But terrible Orc, when he beheld the morning in the east, Shot from the heights of Enitharmon; And in the vineyards of red France appear’d the light of his fury” (106). The French Revolution, though achieved a substantial amount of overthrowing, is never radical enough for Blake. It was still bounded by reason and did not free the human race ultimately. Los represents the revolution brought by Poetic Genius, which leads to infinite and the New Jerusalem. So the battle between Los and Orc is necessary. This cosmic battle will result in the victory of Los and the apocalypse, the coming of Christ and the New Jerusalem.