Ginsberg on Blake continues – (Allen Ginsberg’s 1979 Naropa class on William Blake’s The Four Zoas) – continues from here
AG: “Rising upon his Couch of Death Albion beheld his Sons/ Turning his Eyes outward to Self. losing the Divine Vision” – So (now) we’re on the Second Night of Vala.
There was one thing that I didn’t check out which was the “Divine Vision” in (the) second line. Did anybody look that up? What specifically that was? Is it divine body, divine family, divine hand, divine humanity? Is Divine Vision, with capitals, ever completely outlined? “Jesus follows displaying the eternal vision of the divine similitude.” Well, I guess that would be ultimately Albion or Jesus.
Student: It appears Albion loses the Divine Vision.
Student: So it’s like a vision of wholeness.
AG: Yeah, well, it’s Albion’s vision. The Divine Vision would be Albion’s vision.
Bloom speaks of this as the fall of Luvah, Ostriker sees this chapter, this night, as the construction of the rule of Urizen and Urizen constructing the mundane shell. And it was originally also the opening passage for the entire epic. I think Gerda (Norvig) had mentioned the other day that Book One, as we read it, was a later addition as a prefatory explanation of the action of the rest of the nights. But this actually would the original opening line then –
“Rising upon his Couch of Death Albion beheld his Sons/Turning his Eyes outward to Self. losing the Divine Vision” – (“his sons”, or his own projections, his parts, the Zoas themselves, I suppose, turning “Eyes outward to Self. losing the Divine Vision.”)
“Albion calld Urizen and said. Behold these sickning Spheres…” – (Those are the spheres that were (described in the lines) “the perverse rolld the wheels of Urizen and Luvah back reversed, downwards and outwards, consuming in the wars of eternal death.”)
“…Behold these sickning Spheres/ Whence is this Voice of Enion that soundeth in my Porches,” – ( We’ve decided before that “Porches” were senses. So again it’s the external, apprehensible sense universe that he’s talking about).
Student: In particular here I think he might mean the ears. At least it says in the original. He crossed out “ears” and put in “Porches”.
Student: Because the ears….
AG: (Are) more literally a porch then any other sense, actually.
Student: Yeah, and also I think because prophecy and language …
Student: … comes in through the ears.
AG: So, hereby Albion abdicates his sovereignty, according to Bloom, or surrenders, according to Ostriker. It says,
“Take thou possession! take this Scepter!” – (to Urizen) – “… go forth in my might/For I am weary, & must sleep in the dark sleep of Death..”
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eighteen-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in