Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here
AG: Okay. Then what’s the next big thing? Yeah. Then it gets kind of interesting. Luvah is melted in the furnaces. Then on page three hundred and twelve – ” … the molten metal ran in channels/Cut by the plow of ages held in Urizens strong hand/In many a valley, for the Bulls of Luvah dragd the Plow” – (The emotions, or the human emotions, have now been so melted down by their own fiery intensity that they are “molten” and will run into the channels that reason directs them – “Cut by the plow of ages held in Urizens strong hand.” – “In many a valley, for the Bulls of Luvah dragd the Plow” – “…the molten metal ran in channels/Cut by the plow of ages held in Urizens strong hand.” – “In many a valley, for the Bulls of Luvah dragd the Plow” – So that the emotion is now being given definite form by Urizen)
“With trembling horror pale aghast the Children of Man/Stood on the infinite Earth & saw these visions in the air/In waters & in Earth beneath they cried to one another/What are we terrors to one another. Come O brethren wherefore/Was this wide Earth spread all abroad. not for wild beasts to roam/But many stood..” – (This is, let us say, the anti-War in Vietnam, anti-nuclear protest of a few days ago. That is, “What are we terrors to one another?”)
“But many stood silent & busied in their families/And many said We see no Visions in the darksom air/Measure the course of that sulphur orb that lights the darksom day..” – (Measure it) – “Set stations on this breeding Earth & let us buy & sell/Others arose & schools Erected forming Instruments/To measure out the course of heaven” – (They’ve got a big planetarium at U(niversity (of) C(olorado))
“…Stern Urizen beheld/ In woe his brethren & his Sons in darkning woe lamenting..” – (This is stern (Richard) Nixon “beheld/In woe his brethren & his Sons,” or, let us say, stern Buckley. Stern William Buckley) – “… beheld/In woe his brethren & his Sons in darkning woe lamenting/Upon the winds in clouds involvd Uttering his voice in thunders/ Commanding all the work with care & power & severity”
Well, so you’ve got a dictatorship here. The children of Man are a little scared. Some of them are noticing that the society or the architecture or the construction or the creation that’s being built now with the molten substance of emotions set into the molds that reason has set up is not going to be everything that everybody wants, exactly, and so some are saying, Well, let’s go along with it. We can get a job measuring it all out or as city planners or we can go to school and erect the forming instruments.
That’s sort of funny. When I read that I thought that’s sort of like the argument about the Silent Generation of the ’50s and of the ’70s, while the elemental nature of the planet is being decided. It reminds me of something that (William) Burroughs said a while back: That given a democracy like America, (or America is supposed to be a democracy), the single greatest scientific and political decision was the creation and the explosion of the Hiroshima bomb and the Nagasaki bomb, or Los Alamos, and nobody asked him about it. Nobody asked anybody. It was simply done in secrecy by the Urizenic governors of the nation, and the day it exploded everybody turned to (each other), the Children of Man turned to each other and said, “What are we terrors to one another”? In fact, (Robert) Oppenheimer said something as Blake-an. Actually he quoted the Bhagavad Gita “I am become Death.” “I am become Death, Destroyer of Man.” Does anybody remember that? Oppenheimer, who directed the Manhattan Project, when the first experimental bomb was successfully exploded in….
AG: Where was that?
Student: July 12th.
AG: Alamogordo, was that?
AG: Yeah. (Oppenheimer) said “I am become Death.” Seeing the great fireball, (he) said, “I am become Death, Destroyer of Men.”
“And many said We see no Visions in the darksom air/Measure the course of that sulphur orb that lights the darksom day/ Set stations on this breeding Earth”
So what is that? What do you call them? The Polaris stations.. .not Polaris.. They are discussing with SALT how many stations you can have in the “darksom” earth. How many… what do you call them? The nuclear installations? What do you call those?
Student: The silos?
AG: Yeah, silos. Yes. Nuclear silos.
“…& let us buy & sell/Others arose & schools Erected forming Instruments/To measure out the course of heaven”
Then the dictator beheld the woe and – “…Uttering his voice in thunders/Commanding all the work with care & power & severity/Then siezd the Lions of Urizen their work, & heated in the forge/Roar the bright masses..” – (I’m assuming this is the bright masses of Luvah, of emotions) – “…thund’ring beat the hammers, many a pyramid..” – (Remember, on page three-oh-five, Plate sixteen, line one, that funny line we had about Luvah being beaten into wedges?).
AG: “They melt the bones of Vala, & the bones of Luvah into wedges.” – (Emotion is packaged, so to speak) – “& the bones of Luvah into wedges.” That was on page sixteen of Book One, line one, page three-oh-five.
“… many a pyramid/Is form’d..”- (So here they’re building the mundane shell) – “…& thrown down thund’ring into the deeps of Non Entity” – (It’s all happening in the mind. It’s the creation of a human illusion here, or a universal illusion – the mundane shell).
And, finally, ‘Casting their sparkles dire abroad into the dismal deep..” – (Those would be the stars – “sparkles dire”) – ” For measurd out in orderd space the Sons of Urizen/With compasses
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-six-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-two-and-a-half minutes in