Ginsberg on Blake continues (The Gate of the Tongue)

“They “clos’d the Gate of the Tongue” –  see here  The Four Zoas  (illustration from William Blake’s Milton – A Poem (1811)) – “Tharmas” is the Zoa of the tongue

AG: In the present text that we’re dealing with, Los, I believe had been born under different circumstances, and now is born (again).  Los and Enitharmon are born (on) page nine of Book 1.  I think they were born to Enion – imagination and spiritual beauty – in whatever fallen form they are – are now born.  In a previous book, I think in the Book of Urizen Los was born by whom … who gave birth to Los then?

Student:  Well, Urizen.
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  Well,  they gave birth from each other
AG:  Uh-huh.
Student:  …and then separated

AG:  So they could be contradictory symbols.

I’ve been looking back on what we’ve covered so far, and the most beautiful thing I’ve (seen) so far – (or) one of the most beautiful things  –  was on page two-nine-nine (or Blake’s page five, line forty-three) – “…What shall we do O God pity & help/So spoke they & clos’d the Gate of the Tongue in trembling fear…”    Remember that?

“The Gate of the Tongue”,  I looked up (on) page four-hundred-and-eight in the (S. Foster) Damon’s A Blake Dictionary  for those of you who have it.  He has a good sense of that.  I liked what he said about the tongue.  I looked up the gate and there was no “gate” but there was a “tongue”.  Remember that?  They “clos’d the Gate of the Tongue?”  (the Western gate, the gate of the senses), “in trembling fear.”

And Damon’s commentary on that, on page four hundred-and eight –  “The TONGUE is the first of the Four special Senses, ‘The Parent Sense’ –  the first because it is the first to become active. Its position is West, its Zoa is Tharmas.”  –  (Well that much we know –  that the tongue was associated with Tharmas).  Its “element is Water” (and there’s a phrase – “the mouth of water” – in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).  “Besides being an organ of assimilation, it is also the organ of speech.”

Now, this is what (S. Foster)  Damon makes of that  –  closing the organ of speech off, after Tharmas has fallen into Chaos.  Remember?  Tharmas had just “sunk down into the sea a pale white corse/In torment he sunk down & flowd among her filmy Woof.”  (Alicia) Ostriker says that Tharmas had collapsed into chaos after the fall.  So, in the fallen and chaotic state,  the body now.  So “the gate of the tongue is clos’d”,  and Damon says – “When man falls, he becomes inarticulate.”  (That’s pretty simple, actually.  The “Gate of the Tongue” is closed in The Four Zoas) – “(I)n fact, the entire West is cut off by the sea of Time and Space.”  And then later, in Jerusalem “Speech becomes Babel.” Later in Jerusalem also “The Tongue is hidden behind the ‘deadly’ teeth.”  So, “the Tongue becomes … False Tongue, the doctrine of materialism, ‘vegetated beneath (Beulah’s) land of shadows.”

So it’s kind of an interesting angle, on what it means when (Blake) said that they “clos’d the gates of the tongue”, back there.


AG: I’ve forgotten where we left off.  [Vala]  We had seen the phallic Spectre of Tharmas in its exalted and its terrific pride at the end of page six.

Student:  ((..we read) further)

AG:  Pardon me?

Student:  I think we finished reading at the end of page seven.

AG:  Yeah.  So we had seen the birth of a Spectral Tharmas woven by Enion, a “shadowy (human) form”, “winged”, and that’s referred to as a sort of materialistic phallic macho narcissistic angel form of Tharmas.  Then there had been a copulation of some sort.  The opening of page seven –   “Opening his rifted rocks mingling together they join in burning anguish.”  (We’re) on page two-nine-nine in The Poetry and Prose of William Blake , opening on page seven –   “Opening his rifted rocks mingling together they join in burning anguish.”

So there’s some form of copulation between this new Spectral Tharmas and Enion.  Everybody got that line?  Got that place? See that?  Remember?  We passed that over but I didn’t understand it at the time and I checked back to look up (to) see what was going on.

His “metals rose.”  I noticed that before.  I wondered what that was.  It sometimes…. It might be brass or social organization.

Then, on the next page – three hundred – “Enion brooded groaning loud the rough seas vegetate.”  There was an interpretation we had before.  There was no grounding for the new body of Tharmas.

Then at the beginning of page eight – “Till with fierce pain she brought forth on the rocks her sorrow & woe/Behold two little Infants wept upon the desolate wind.” –   So those are Los and Enitharmon.  In this case, in this book, born from the copulation of Enion with the Spectral body (of) Tharmas.  The fallen body. So it’s sort of like a vegetable or vegetative world,  a material world, that’s given birth to what will become later on poetic imagination – Los – and spiritual beauty – his Emanation.

to be continued.

Audio for the above can be heard – here, beginning at approximately seven-and-three-quarter minutes in and continuing to approximately sixteen minutes in

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