Ginsberg on Blake continues – 36

William Blake – The Ancient of the Days – (originally published as the frontispiece to the 1794 work, Europe- A Prophecy)

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s The Four Zoas  continues from here

AG:   So – “Terrific Urizen strode above,in fear & pale dismay/ He saw the indefinite space beneath & his soul shrunk with horror/ His feet upon the verge of Non Existence; his voice went forth”

Meanwhile – “Luvah & Vala trembling & shrinking, beheld the great Work master..” –
(All the commentators point out that both (Francis) Bacon and (John) Milton had used that phrase for the Jehovah who created the system of the universe, the sun and stars, the astronomy.  So that “work master” is a classical phrase used for the rationalistic God, or the God that people had rationalized out and saw as the great mathematician, the great scientist who created the universe.  Except that they were seeing that (or) using that work master favorably and Blake reversed it and made the work master into this monstrous selfhood, creating an imaginary universe after the image of his own binary reasoning).

Student:  This figure also comes originally from the Bible, in the Psalms, where they speak of Jehovah, yeah …
AG:  Uh-huh.
Student:  … as the work master and talk about him as an architect.
AG:  Uh-huh.
Student:  So Bacon and Milton are …
AG:  Taking from the Bible, uh-huh.
Student:  ..taking from that, and that’s why they can use it as a powerfully positive image.
AG:  And the work master creates what? – “…the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion” –
(where Albion has sunk into sleep – “The Mundane Shell” which is everything we see outside the window of the school)

Then, there’s pretty lines now about the. “.. harrow formd & framd the harness of silver & ivory/The golden compasses, the quadrant & the rule & balance/ They erected the furnace, they formd the anvils of gold  beaten in mills” – (The language is all sort of puns, also.  If “mills” is the mind, “the golden compasses” – you’ve seen illustrations by Blake of the Ancient of Days, or Urizen, creating the universe, or (Sir Isaac) Newton plotting out the universe –  a naked man bent over with the two compasses.  You’ve seen those, I think – those illustrations by Blake – (and) – the furnace(s), the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – as well as Los‘s furnaces).

“… Lions of Urizen stood round the anvil…”  – “The tygers of wrath… horses of instruction…”- (So he’s now calling up all of his favorite early symbols (on page twenty-five, (page) three-ten of Erdman)  – “In human forms distinct they stood around Urizen prince of  Light/Petrifying all the Human Imagination into rock & sand” – (That’s kind of nice.  Finally, that’s the final poetic image for the solidification….)

tape ends here – to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here,  beginning at approximately twenty-nine minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in

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