Ginsberg on Blake continues – 93

William Blake – from Jerusalem – The Emanation of the Giant Albion -“Naming him the Spirit of Prophecy, calling him Elijah/ Strucken with Albions disease they become what they behold”

Allen Ginsberg 1979 Naropa lecture on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here

AG (reciting Blake):      “(In terrors Los shrunk from his task) his great hammer/Fell from his hand his fires hid their strong limbs in smoke/For with noises ruinous hurtlings & clashings & groan/The immortal endur’d. tho’ bound in a deadly sleep” – (That would be Urizen, I think, “the immortal” one there, unawakened yet – unawakened Urizen.  Urizen hasn’t been completely formed – it’s like Frankenstein has been created by Los but he hasn’t yet gotten up).

“Pale terror siezd the Eyes of Los as he beat round/The hurtling Demon. terrified at the shapes/Enslavd humanity put on he became what he beheld/ He became what he was doing he was himself transformed” – (And in (The Book of) Urizen,  there’s a very beautiful line –  “And now his eternal life like a dream was obliterated” – The imagination, in creating this physical form for Urizen thus falls into the same universe that he’s created, or becomes the universe he’s created, and loses out on his eternal life.  And now his eternal life, like a dream, was obliterated – He became what he was doing he was himself transformed.” –  That’s another great key line in Blake –  “he became what he beheld.”

Student:  His life’s the way … I think, the way he says, and “Los as he beat round/The hurtling Demon.”  Already there in the kind of syntactical ambiguity … you have … he’s becoming what he’s doing.
AG:  Ah.  Right, right.
Student:  Beating around, and then hurtling …
AG:  Right.
Student:  … and the Demon is also hurtling.
AG:  Yes.
Student:  So together they’re doing the same thing.. He’s becoming what he’s doing.
AG:  And “Pale terror siezd the Eyes” …
Student:  Right.
AG:  … which is probably the last state of Urizen …
Student:  Right.
AG:  … when he fell into this.

Now there’s,  (Percy Bysshe) Shelley –  “To hope till hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates.” (Editorial note – “ hope till Hope creates/From its own wreck there thing it contemplates” – from the end of Prometheus Unbound) – “He became what he beheld.” – Bring in here the Globe of Blood as in The Book of Urizen  – That’s Blake’s suggestion.  Well, “the Globe of Blood” was “he became what he beheld,” and actually there’s a perfect illustration of him bending over, becoming what he beheld.

Student:  When you showed us last time..

AG:  Yeah.  That’s another way of saying it.  Bending over, creating a form – I think in this case it’s from the Book of Urizen, but it has to do more with the separation of the birth of Orc or the separation of pity from his body.

Student:  You can see in this one that originally apparently this came from the middle of his back …
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  …or at least there’s great streams of blood …
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  … coming down from there.  So this thing, which is..  on the one hand, it looks like an extension of his head, on the other hand it seems like it came out of the middle of his back..
AG:  Well, that relates to that thing, I think we went through it at one point, that he fastened the suns to the spine of Urizen.
Student:  Uh-huh.
AG:  Because this is like the sun.
Student:  Right.
AG:  Perhaps coming out, or it relates to that..
Student:  And also when he rents from Urizen… when Urizen …
AG:  So..

Student (2):  What about Whitman, “There was a child went forth every day/ and the first object that he looked upon, that object he became..”
AG:  Ah-huh.  Forgot that.  Makes sense in this context.

So,  “Spasms siezd his muscular fibres writhing to & fro his pallid lips/Unwilling movd as Urizen howld his loins wavd like the sea..” – (that’s pretty strange – “his loins wavd like the sea.”) –  “At Enitharmons shriek” – “”(H)is loins wavd like the sea/At Enitharmons shriek.” – (Well, maybe) – “At Enitharmons shriek his knees each other smote & then he lookd/With stony Eyes on Urizen & then swift writhd his neck/ Involuntary to the Couch..” – (something’s very odd about this menage a trois here) – “… writhd his neck/Involuntary to the Couch where Enitharmon lay/The bones of Urizen hurtle on the wind the bones of Los/Twinge & his iron sinews bend like lead & fold/Into unusual forms dancing & howling stamping the Abyss..”

According to Bloom, at this point the fall is complete, at the end of Fourth Night.

Now begins some kind of transformation in the Fifth Night.

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-one minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in.  


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