Tag Archive: Urizen


Milton wants to celebrate self-love through the journey of sexual liberation, breaking away from the Urizen state of mind that “dares to mock with the aspersion of Madness/Cast on the Inspired, by the tame high finisher of paltry Blots” (202). The madness of course being the image offered through plate 47: two men–one enjoys the pleasure of another’s giving.

As we’ve discussed in class, the act of Self-Annihilation is no annihilation at all; it is meant to liberate the person in action–in this case through masturbation and/or sex with the member of the same sex. Therefore, in order for there to be a contrary state of mind, there ought to be the destruction of negations. In other words, you can’t know your true sexuality until you’ve experimented with it i.e., with yourself, others of same sex, and others.

So when Milton “come[s] in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration”, he is reaching the orgasmic transcendence that is offered through the imagination of Los, by throwing away his filthy garments from Albion’s covering through reason (202). Then, and only then, can one stand at the entrance of the void outside of existence–and through the practice of imagination–see it as a womb: the birth of the Eternal Death of Albion.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

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Bounding the Poetic Genius

In plate 2 of William Blake’s “Milton: Book the First”, the oppressed poetic Genius is revealed within the renowned poet John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. Blake writes how the poetic Genius is called upon in Milton through various physical awareness, specifically focusing on tactile imagery (that of touch), to highlight this. Blake mentions how the Poet’s Song is evoked through “soft sexual delusions” (3), “burning thirst & freezing hunger!… descending down the Nerves of my right arm” (5-6), in which a poet can conjure their imagination through visceral physical reactions in which ideas “Come into my hand” (5) and move down the arm and into the page. This focus on the physical touch is one that is hypersexual: it is “of terror & mild moony lustre” (3) that forces the poet into a frenzy of lust for art. This focus on the hypersexual and tactile imagery then presents a paradox. If interaction with the art is a sexual one that allows humanity to engage with “Paradise” (8), then why is Blake critiquing an esteemed poet for being “Unhappy tho in heav’n” (18), and failing to reach salvation, instead “himself perish” (20).

The conclusion of this plate then takes a startling turn, focusing on “A Bard” (22) who recounts this paradox to the reader, a meta commentary perhaps even self-referential to Blake himself. The rest of poem is focused on the salvation of Milton, and his deliverance from Urizen. This is perhaps why Milton needs “to go down the self annihilation and eternal death”, as explicated in Book 1, plate 15, line 22. Milton was bound and unhappy in his poetic Genius, which is why he must experience death to overcome this.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

A Hunger for Revolution

In William Blake’s “The Tyger” from Songs of Innocence and Experience is the essence of opposing energies of anything deemed guiltless.  In further analysing its twin poem “The Lamb,” we see this notion of opposition even more; the moral that is to be taken from having engaged in both texts, is that humanity possesses both sides: innocent and sinfilled.  

The “Tyger,” therefore, symbolizes not only the sin, and/or darker point of view of the world, but it represents the truest aftermath of a world that is full of injustice, inequality, and oppression.  It is the response to the push back of a society that are oppressed and marginalized -positioned in such a way because of the unabating greed of a higher power.

Hence, in the line “The Tigers couch upon the prey & such the ruddy tide” (Europe 18/15:17), we can conclude that the Tiger is responding to the 1800 years of dark times, when none of the political and/or societal issues were being resolved in France -the poorer were becoming poorer, and the rich were becoming richer; specifically, the monarchy. . The Tiger was essentially released from those shackles that represent oppression; full of rage and hunger; having an insatiable appetite for that of revolution.  This is a counterpart, really, of the apocalypse found in Revelations in the bible. In this manner, we see that the “prey,” therefore, are the very people who were greedily living out their lives, at the cost of the loss of everyone else. The blood is what has been spilt by the mass chaos taking place from the outbreak of the revolution -those from both sides.

The Tiger, furthermore, deviates from simply being seen as the darkness of the world; but, instead, transform into a victor.

Image result for tyger william blake

-Marcy Martinez

Urizen weeps twice in The Song of Los: once near the end of “Africa,” and once at the end of “Asia.” In “Africa,” Urizen weeps for his mission is nearing completion. In “Asia,” Urizen weeps for his mission is nearing failure.

In “Africa,” it is said that a new philosophy of the world is approaching. This is the Enlightenment, a period of changing mentalities, where rationalism is to rule. This new manner of engaging with the world is described,

Closing and restraining:
Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete.
Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke (Blake 110).

Urizen is incredibly proud of what the Enlightenment has brought. His great project to constrain the whole world under Reason is reaching fruition, and as he hands the reins of this project to his chosen people, he weeps.

The people are not entirely happy with Urizen’s new laws. Perhaps Enlightenment ideals have guided them to revolution. Perhaps there is a revolution against Enlightenment ideals. Perhaps Urizen has sparked revolution, or perhaps revolution has been sparked against him. Urizen’s role in the era of revolution is complex, but it is simple that he is, in one way or another, involved.

As the fires of revolution rage across the world, so too do the fires of Orc.

Orc, raging in European darkness,
Arose, like a pillar of fire above the Alps,
Like a serpent of fiery flame!
The sullen Earth
Shrunk!

Urizen, in his newfound philosophy fails to change the world in his image. Instead, the world turns to the revolutions and flames of Orc. This is a time, not of reason and logic, but of fire, death and despair. As the Apocalypse ends and the world is made anew, Urizen once more weeps. The rules of material rationality have failed him and the beings of Earth. Urizen has failed.

 

Tears for Pride

Urizen cries because he realizes that his reign over the people has finally rid him of Los and the people are surrendering themselves to the reason being subjected to them. Blake states that “The human race began to wither, for the healthy built/ Secluded places, fearing the joys of Love, / And the disease’d only propagated” (109. 25-27). While under the influences of Los they are starting to “wither” and they “fear the joys of Love” which highlights their lack of thought through emotional turmoil. There has been a heightened method of understanding as one does not require to use their more natural side. Blake continues saying that “Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete. / Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke” (110. 16-17). The “five senses” become exposed to thought and give the people a more open interpretation to thought and understanding. Reasoning starts to take over the more imaginative way of thinking as there no longer seems to have this way of being any longer. Urizen is handing on the responsibility to “Newton & Locke” as they are the ones who seem to embody the teachings that Urizen wants humanity to take along with them. It is through this tears of self-acceptance that Urizen feels like humanity has come to terms with its own salvation. The tears are a contradiction though as some people are not prepared for the changes that come with the acceptance of this new reasoning. It causes the people to drop their morality and become more focused on the. In “Asia” Urizens tears arise at the very end signaling the end as well. Blake puts it “The Song of Los is Ended. Urizen weeps”(112. 41-42). The “Song of Los” is the time where people allow themselves to become encapsulated by a more connectivity to nature and their surroundings and instead they are being controlled and told on how to think through Urizen. The tears again are of the “joy” mentioned earlier as humanity is more under control from the thoughts of a supreme thinker.

-Alexis Blanco

Adam and Noah are generally considered figures of religion and followers of God. However, in plate 3 Noah and Adam seem to be disgusted with Urizen’s actions, despite being associated to God.

“Adam shuddered! Noah faded black grew the sunny African…

Noah shrunk beneath the waters;

Abram fled in fires from Chaldea;

Moses beheld upon Mount Sinai forms of dark delusions” (109).

Blake creates multiple alternate versions of people are supposed to be religious figures, who are not supposed to be contemporaries. Adam is the first man to ever be created by God, while Noah comes at a later time when the world is about to be covered in water. While in Asia, Urizen is the one who heard all of the outcries of those who are against Urizen’s actions of assigning his laws onto the nations.

“Urizen heard them cry; And his shudd’ring waving wings Went enormous above the red flames, Drawing clouds of despair thro’ the heavens Of Europe as he went… For Adam, a mouldering skeleton Lay bleach’d on the garden of Eden: And Noah as white as snow” (111).

It seems that because of Urizen’s actions, and placing laws onto the nation, mean the ending of the genius; the ending of Los’s imagination.

Urizen is ultimately weeping about the same thing: the emergence of Los, or, revolution of the peoples through the ashes of long forgotten imaginations. His rule over the world is coming to an end, which is why in “Africa”, he “gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke” (110); “it being the ideology of reason. Urizen tasks the new scientists with the notion of rationalizing the world through reason in order to make the world an objective truth. He weeps in “Africa” because he sees that the situation is quite frankly out of his hands; he alone cannot fight to create a world that is known–not felt.

Therefore, when he cries at the end of “Asia”, he has ultimately seen the “call for fires in the city” that rebells against his tradition of rational, and is watching as the system he’s created falls (110). Though the “Song of Los is Ended”, the revolution had just begun for the people, as this poem/song is a call for resistance against the enormous wings of Urizen and his order. His system was full of misery that worked towards subjugated its peoples; it “turn[s] man from his path [and] restrain[s] the child from the womb” (111). So then, his final weep is full of despair, and he knows that the tradition he’s created is finally over.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

Re-volution or the End of History?

For this Wednesday (3/21), 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.   Interpret the line “The Tigers couch upon the prey & suck the ruddy tide” (Europe 18/15:7; page 106).  How does this line relate to animal/beast imagery in Blake’s other works, like in the “The Tyger” for instance?

 

Or, students can formulate their own question prompt about a specific line, image, theme, or motif from Europe or 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.  Posts are due by 8:30am on 3/21.

Enitharmon’s dream was gendered as female because of its connection to Los; hitherto, Europe was ruled and dictated by a man’s dream, hence: “eighteen hundred years: Man was a Dream!” (12/9, line 2, 101). The logic of reason, or the ideology understood through the character Urizen, had been the contemporary order of society. Therefore, by gendering Enitharmon’s dream–and waking from it–there is this sense of anew. She was awakened to share her dreams with others, leaving Man that was a dream, in the past.

The dream itself opens with a sense of power being exerted by Enitharmon, calling onto her sons to “tell the human race that Woman’s love is Sin” (101). Here, the mother holds the power over her sons, dictating what they do and say, shifting the beholder of power from man to woman as a form of anew to come. Now, it can also be seen as Enitharmon uses her sons for their voices as men, in order to be heard by the old society and shift towards the new–which still reaffirms ideologies of the past. Though this is what will ultimately cause the “sons of Urizen [to] look out and envoy Los”–the sudden shift in power from man to woman, that is (100).

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

William Blake’s Europe a Prophecy ends with an epic war in which Los and Orc prepare to fight:

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

Orc is the embodiment of rebellion as opposed to Urizen who is the symbol of tradition, therefore it makes sense that Orc would prepare for epic war along with Los (who is the creative imagination) . Los is also the father of Orc (and Enitharmon is his mother). Therefore, when Orc is born to Enitharmon in the beginning of the work, he is called the “horrent Demon” (100) to illustrate his deviation from tradition, and (perhaps away from what is considered religious because tradition and religion are part of the government in Britain). However, the symbolism or Orc and Los working together after Los becomes Urizen’s slave and partner, is immense because it marks the corruption of organized religions. Enitharmon’s 800 year old sleep is also a symbol of the repressed female figure that gave birth to rebellion.
The significance of this epic battle in relation to Blake’s prophetic version of Britain is that Blake is looking at Britain and examining the ways that Europe is repressive like Urizen, and its  failure of enlightenment is causing it to be the polar opposite of America (or what Orc is symbolizing) the energy of revolution and change. However, like Orc, America could be repressed and limited in a way, similarly to how Enitharmon was holding Orc back, even while she was pushing him to be a rebellious figure.
The “vineyards” of red France create an allusion to the French revolution that at this time is seeing the light of Orc (or revolution). The color symbolism of a “red France” is indicative of the immense blood shed that will take place. It is also foreshadowed in the birth of Orc: “And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine”,”red stars of fire”, and “the sparkling wine of Los” (101). The poetic imagination then has to be marked with death and destruction because its mission is to destroy Urizen. However, this bloodshed would go on longer than William Blake or anybody would have expected.
-Beyanira Bautista