Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here
AG: Then, where shall we go to (next)? There was one line..
Since I was going to try and cover the entire chapter, the entire night in one day, today, we won’t be doing it line-by-line. Has everybody read it? So what I’m going to hover over are the things that confused me – the lines that confused me – or the angle, the things I looked up that I was trying to figure out as I went through.
On line eleven, there was already a little confusion – (line) nine:
“Urizen rose from the bright Feast like a star thro’ the evening sky/Exulting at the voice that calld him from the Feast of envy/First he beheld the body of Man” – (That’s Albion) – “…pale, cold, the horrors of death/Beneath his feet shot thro’ him as he stood in the Human Brain” – (“He” there being, as Urizen, stood in Albion’s brain. As Urizen stood in the Human Brain)
“And all its golden porches grew pale with his sickening light/No more Exulting for he saw Eternal Death beneath” – (Oh-oh! – So, having gotten to where he wanted, having gotten control, having gotten the Scepter of man or the Scepter of Albion, he suddenly realized that it was a Pyrrhic victory, seeing Eternal Death beneath it) So,
“Pale he beheld futurity, pale he beheld the Abyss”
Then the other line that I couldn’t understand was – “Mighty was the draught of Voidness to draw Existence in” – That’s – “(Where) Enion blind & age bent wept in direful hunger craving/All rav’ning like the hungry worm, & like the silent grave/ Mighty was the draught of Voidness to draw Existence in” – Did anybody make sense of that? The odd thing there is it’s an insatiable craving. I think we had the line before, the more they … what is it? “The more nourished, the more they crave, the more they drank the more they thirsted.” Los and Enitharmon. Is that later on?
Student: No, I think it’s….
AG: It’s in the first book.
Student: Maybe the more enjoying. That line [Editorial note -“Craving the more the more enjoying.”“… drawing out sweet bliss’]
Student: Isn’t it sort of like a mini-black hole?
Student: I mean the idea that….
AG: Is this Enion‘s craving here or Urizen? At that point?
AG: See, on line sixteen – “…Enion blind & age bent wept in direful hunger craving/All rav’ning like the hungry worm, & like the silent grave..” – “Mighty was the draught of Voidness to draw Existence in”
Student: Well, she’s like the hungry worm …
Student: … and that in the grave, the grave is the voidness that….
Student: … this black hole, wanting more existence.
AG: See, it’s Enion who’s given birth, but is still craving.
AG: Enion, which was originally sexual urge….
Student: No, she’s been rejected. She doesn’t have that….
AG: Rejected by her progeny.
AG: But still “in direful hunger craving/All rav’ning like the hungry worm.” Well, the worm would be mortality, again. So craving more and more mortality.
AG: Then: “Mighty was the draught of Voidness to draw Existence in.” So it’s filling up the….
Student: The process seems like every time someone takes more power, like Urizen claiming power, then what happens is voidness … it creates more voidness. So a sense of power made autonomous in the one character makes the others feel empty.. And they want… then they want mortality or they want something to embody them or to be.
Student: It’s the same thing.
AG: So “Mighty was the draught of Voidness to draw Existence in,” in this sense of the imagination, actually, or Urizen… let’s see now. The hunger of the sexual urge for the creation of more meat, mortal existence, would be equivalent to the hunger of Urizen for power over that existence and order over it and for power itself, for continuation of his selfhood, and so, since he had no bounds yet, it would be an unlimited craving, it would be a mighty draught of voidness, to create (or) draw existence in. It’s sort of like the image we had before of the eye creating the universe or the ear drawing in the (universe or) creating the universe by drawing it in, which was an image he used, or a similar image was used, in The Book of Urizen, when the senses extruded from the void and began creating or I believe the ear was a whirlpool to draw existence in. I think that was the (image). It’s a similar phrasing, even. I think he said the ear was a whirlpool or a draught, again, to draw in what isn’t there. To draw in or create the appearance of maya, or an external sensory universe.
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-nine minutes in