Tag Archive: Urizenic Law


In Blake’s “The Song of Los”, several biblical parallels can be drawn, including the reference to Adam and Eve’s conception, fall, and Jesus ‘arrival. At the end of the poem, Urizen, who acts as an allegory for Christianity’s God, weeps at the ending of Los’ song (112). During Los’ song, humanity was under a spell that allowed them to obey the laws of Urizen, but in opposition to this, the children of Los and Enitharmon give humanity alternative religions, and methods to save humanity from withering and “fearing the joys of Love” (109). However, this ultimately backfired, as “Los & Enitharmon gave / Laws & Religions to the sons of Har, binding them more / And more to Earth: closing and restraining” (110). Urizen, to combat the new religions gives philosophy and logic to Newton and Locke in tears. It is here that the Orc is born, the metaphorical symbol for revolution, bringing upheaval to Urizen’s laws, but also upheaval to religion. This resurrection of the Orc, is therefore the resurrection of revolution, of humanity’s cries against oppression. This oppression is outlined in “Asia”, as the kings of Asia attempt to placate the public by punishing them, “that the remnant may learn to obey” (111); the Orc’s arrival is the signaling for a new era in which all the people “Fathers and Friends, / Mothers & Infants; Kings & Warriors” (112) are finally freed (a freedom that “swells with wild desire”, “rush[es]”, “shout & dance”, “shrieks with delight, & shakes” (112)). If we contrast this with the line “Urizen wept”, considering this, and considering the frame of the Bible’s verse John 11:35, Urizen’s tears satirize Jesus’. This is because Urizen is not weeping over the death of the friend, like Jesus was, but instead the death of oppression, and the birth of a revolution. If we compare this to the tears Urizen had previously in “Africa”, when he weeps giving Philosophy and Logic to Newton & Locke, Urizen’s tears are out of guilt and submission, which is paradoxical considering his dominant and oppressive nature. In both instances, Urizen is crying at the loss of control over humanity, and the birth of something far more destructive.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

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It is has been well established that Blake’s poetic genius attempts to get us out of our Urizen state, and ultimately reach that state of Los. In Blake’s annotations of Watson’s “Apology for the Bible” he reinforces that idea by claiming that “Our judgement of right & wrong is Reason” (Blake, 456). Thomas Paine seems to align with Blake’s belief that our reason is what prevents us from progressing. In Paine’s “The Age of Reason”, he makes radical claims toward the form of government, and the ways in which it ultimately limits a society.

“…therefore all such clauses, acts, or declerations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do—nor the power to execute—are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself…” (Paine, 25). 

Paine essentially is against the ways in which government forms laws because it takes away people’s freedom. This reminded me a lot of a particular passage of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake says, “I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning” (Blake, 79). My interpretation of this reflecting back on Paine’s radical claims on government, was that the Angels in this case are those in power (political figures, bishops, etc) because they believe the laws and beliefs they force upon society are the “right” way thus, making them feel entitled or the most wise. However as we now know, it is these “wise men” and reason that restricts society to feel “free to act for itself…”, instead society acts according to what those “wise men” tell them.

In terms of the French Revolution those people who destroyed the Bastille, and demanded change, as well as the head of King Louis XVI, acted upon their own judgment and will, completely defying the rule of the monarchy. In other words, they were sick and tired of those “wise men” so they did something about it. Power to the people!

C8B393B2-6C6B-4A73-ABA0-C380D8DD2B65.jpeg(Blake, 79).

The image above I felt really represents those “wise men” crushing societies’ ability to prosper. I wish I found one that depicted a representation when society finally acts for themselves.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

Slavery as a Component of Milton

In response to kathcal,

I think that your connection between Milton and slave spirituals is not tenuous at all but, rather, quite an adept recognition. In fact, I would further argue that Milton: Book the First explores another form of slavery to which Blake frequently alludes: mental enslavement. Just as Blake disapproves of the institution of slavery, as is evident in many of his works, he also disapproves of the binding moral and logic-based laws of Urizen; such disapproval led him to put forward the idea of self-annihilation as a way of creating distance from the rational, systematized part of oneself. I’m curious about your claim that self-annihilation involves the abandonment, or sacrifice as you referred to it, of autonomy. Quite contrarily, I would argue that the act of self-annihilation enables one to become autonomous, The act of self-annihilation in and of itself is destructive but it doesn’t degrade the part of oneself that is intrinsically your own. Self-annihilation is a way of freeing oneself from Urizen’s ties and, on a more conceptual level, it is not the separating of the self into two parts, it is the final freeing of the self from a counterpart to which it was unceremoniously attached–Urizenic law.

Considering Milton in the context of slavery commentary, the engraving on Pg. 126 (shown below) takes on a double entendre of sorts. Milton’s personage, a sinewy character lunging forward and attacking Urizen dually suggests a break from his previous state of self and, more generally, from a state of subjugation and powerlessness. Certainly, the image of Milton is one of a man who has toiled laboriously, with brawny and defined muscles. One may even be as bold as to say that some of the markings on the back of Milton could be interpreted as scars from lashings by a whip. Thus, Milton gains a powerful, implicit jab at the slavery movement of the time while he furthers his contention imagistically that the self must be freed from Urizenic law to truly be capable of entering the “Kingdom of Heaven.”.

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