by John Emslie THE WORD ZOA is Greek. It means ‘living one’. In the Book of Ezekiel, zoa is the name of the four creatures who pull the chariot of God’s Spirit. William Blake, The Works of William Blake: Poetic, Symbolic, and Critical, III, ed. Edwin J. Ellis and William Butler Yeats (London: Quaritch, ). PR E5. The Four Zoas (Excerpt) by William is the price of Experience do men buy it for a song Or wisdom for a dance in the street No it is bought with the.
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If we decide to exclude one we will exclude material which seems necessary for a full understanding of the fouur. If both are included, how should we read them? We seem to be left with a narrative which is hopelessly confused. Vala, or The Four Zoas Oxford: In the text of my essay, the following abbreviations are used: Night VIIa1 ms pages to line By considering VIIa pages as a single homogeneous narrative, Sloss and Wallis helped to establish the critical tradition which has regarded this Night as later than VIIb pages Clarendon,I, In order to have a meaningful basis for the discussion of relative dates, we must first try to distinguish the original form of VIIa from the subsequent additions.
Vala, or The Four Zoas
The first four leaves of VIIa, pageshave stitch marks which indicate that they were once bound together with pages and The presence of stitch marks on pages suggests that this leaf was not originally designed for its present context in VIII the rest of which was never bound but had some other place in the manuscript. As no other page containing Christian symbolism in the basic text shows any sign of stitch marks, this seems unlikely. As there is no apparent connection between the drawing on page and anything else at the end of IV, the leaf may have been designed for some other context within the binding that once held pages Although only the first four leaves of VIIa were bound pagesthere is no Night ending on page 84, and the first ending now occurs after line 21 on the unbound page This rests on the assumption that the Night was complete when bound, which is open to question.
As we have seen, it is unlikely that the leaf containing pages was bound at the end of IV. It seems more likely, in view of the drawing on pagethat the leaf was originally designed for the end of VIIa. The relationship between the Spectre of Urthona and the Spirit of Enitharmon described on pages follows the pattern typical of Los and Enitharmon, the male tortured by jealousy, the female scornful and elusive: The drawing on page would have been very suitable for VIIa if the Night had ended with the tension between the Spectre and Shadow still unresolved.
In that case he would naturally unbind his manuscript to remove pages ; and he would also prepare a new sheet which would be exactly like pages before the additions.
When it was unbound page was almost certainly still blank, and it was only written on when Blake decided to use it in VIII. In this case, then, Blake seems to have bound a leaf and prepared it with a drawing before anything had been written on it: This also suggests that the basic text of page 85 may have been the first ending of VIIa to be transcribed on proof pages, and that it may be regarded as the original end of VIIa.
I shall subsequently refer to the basic text of pages ending with Night VIIa1 has strong narrative links with pagesas it describes the confrontation between Urizen and Orc anticipated at the end of VIand the rebirth of Vala anticipated in V.
Taken together, the narrative of pages follows the narrative sequence of Urizen-Ahania the active confrontation between Urizen and Fuzon becomes a verbal confrontation between Urizen and Orc, but at the end of both the defeated energy principle is forced to ascend the tree of Mystery. Leaves without stitch marks could have been superseded and removed before Blake bound the manuscript, or they could have been added afterwards.
Nor can we be sure at what stage in the process of composition the manuscript was bound. So we must rely on internal evidence: Similar references occur only in recognizably late additions to the poem, on the added page 21 lines and in an added passage on page 56 line 1.
Satan also appears only in late passages, as on the added page 22 line 4in the added passage on page 56 line 19and in the manifestly late eighth Night.
Re-Visioning William Blake’s The Four Zoas
I believe such evidence does exist. In the Lambeth books Blake had developed two different images for the corruption of Orc: In VIIa1 Blake reconciles the two images.
The embrace completes zoad transformation of Orc: Vala herself is strewn on the abyss.
However, there is a passage in VIII There is evidence of similar displacements elsewhere in VIIb. Blake must have been editing the text from which he was copying when he transcribed VIIb. He introduced instead, rather tour, the passage More of these preparations are described in passages which now appear in VIII, and these passages seem to be leading up to an apocalyptic confrontation like the one described in In the passage The work is continued in To all his Engines of deceit.
The Four Zoas (Excerpt) Poem by William Blake – Poem Hunter
In their present context these lines simply herald an intensification of the conflict which is seen to be an inherent feature of the fallen world over which Urizen presides; but the lines themselves seem to describe a more decisive event.
The sudden, apocalyptic battle-signal should herald the eruption of warfare. We might expect the passage The passage apparently has a climactic significance. The relationship between Los and Enitharmon is at its lowest ebb. Los, as in Europerises eagerly to the prospect of xoas his appearance is more wrathful here than at any other point fout The Four Zoasand his speech, The collapse occurs at These lines seem to anticipate fuor decisive action by Los, and it is possible that they were followed originally by the description of Los rending the heavens, now found in the beginning of IX.
Several factors suggest that this description formed the conclusion of an eighth Night designed to follow VIIal. In the poem as it now stands these words clearly apply to the chaos described in the new beginning of the Night; but when they were first transcribed they must have applied to the end of the eighth Night.
There is a reference to Los destroying the heavens in the main body of IX, on page In the added passage Los is watched over by Jesus, so the action appears to be part of the divine scheme of redemption, and the passage is clearly related to a late addition near the end of VIII This is an example of the destructive nature of prophetic impatience, marking a further stage in the fall.
Who shall call them from the Grave. No solution is offered in VIIal. The added endings of VIIa do not completely resolve this division, but foud do introduce a principle by which unity may be achieved: Compared with the new endings of VIIa, the solution offered in the passage above seems crudely mechanical.
The additions at the end of VIIal i. There are traces of a narrative sequence which may have been dislocated in the process of revision. For convenience I shall refer to the main body of the ninth Night, without the new beginning i.
But as we have noted, internal evidence is likely to provide a surer indication of relative date than the absence or presence of stitch marks. The harvest and vintage sequence begins at There are obvious precedents for such a sequence in Revelation First, there is a development in the presentation of Beulah: Their vision is the long pastoral interlude in which Luvah and Vala, and Tharmas and Enion, are reunited in innocence.
As in Urizenthe intervention of the Eternals described cour There seems to be little in the harvest and vintage sequence which can be identified as the product of a major revision. Responding cour the Universal Confusion he reasons with himself until he recovers first a sense of determination, and then feelings of wrath This active struggle is zoa natural sequel to the resignation of will described in the copperplate text However, after a description of the regeneration of Urizen, there is a passage in which Man describes his awakening in terms of a divine intervention.
This suggests that the eight lines referring to the Lamb of God were not originally an integral part of the passage in which they now appear, although they must have been introduced before page was transcribed as they are in the basic text.
The immediate connection between St. The passage framed by the Christian lines on page describes the relationship between Ahania and Urizen in its ideal form. Blake seems to have introduced the Christian symbolism in a context which emphasizes the correspondence between the sexual harmony required in his own myth and that which forms the climax of Revelation. The other example of this kind of Christiann symbolism occurs at the end of a passage describing how the dead gather, waiting to be delivered.
Again, Blake seems to have introduced references to Revelation in a context which enables a general analogy to be made: The vision includes four Wonders of the Almighty Incomprehensible.
Clarendon,p. As Margoliouth suggests, the symbolism of this passage has not really been assimilated into the symbolic structure of the Night.
The references to divine intervention are registered as interpolations which remain ultimately foyr from the rest of the Night.
In any Night that had been retranscribed at least once to fojr [e] material which would radically modify the conceptual basis of the poem, we might expect the new ideas to revise the existing ideas satisfactorily; we might expect their modifying effect to be dominant, if not complete. This is largely their effect in VIII.
In the lines at the beginning of VIII the machinery of divine intervention has been fully developed, but at the expense of the will: Man responds passively to a regulated scheme of redemption in which his own will plays no part. The limited importance of these references suggests that they were not introduced as part of zoaz carefully planned revision; they seem to have been introduced more as an immediate response to the major model for the Last Judgment, the Book of Revelation, and Blake may even have decided to introduce them while he was actually transcribing the Night.
Their extent is so limited that their inclusion would hardly seem to have justified the complete retranscription of the Night, or even of the individual leaves on which they occur.
Within this draft the lengths of the Nights had tended to increase towards the end of the poem, and there had obviously been some development in the symbolism. For example, Beulah had become more important towards the end of the poem, and Christian symbolism had been introduced in the ninth Night.
It has long been recognized that much of the text on the proof pages may have been composed while Blake was staying with Hayley at Felpham. As we have noted, Blake may have been influenced by his observation of the rural countryside foour Felpham in his treatment of eternal harvest in the ninth Night. Complete Writingsrev. The tone and imagery of the poem are mild, the poet is passive, there is little sense of zoad determined imaginative effort.
Now I a fourfold vision see And a fourfold vision is given to me.
But it seems unlikely that Blake could have delayed by a year the announcement of the gift of fourfold vision, and these last lines may have been added to the rest of the poem when the letter was written i. I think the tone of this letter expresses more than the need to keep in favor with a more orthodox patron; it suggests that as Blake progressed into fourfold vision, Christianity assumed a new meaning for him.