Ginsberg on Blake continues – 105

William Blake – from the ms.of The Four Zoas in The British Library

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

AG: – “Ah..” –  Then, this is taking off from Milton, Book IV, a monologue, or soliloquy, of Satan on Mt. Nephrates in Paradise Lost – “Ah how shall Urizen the King…” – (This is actually the lament of the King – the lament of George III about the American Revolution in 1801.  George III, who was mad.  So this is simultaneously political.  It’s the lament of (President Richard) Nixon, it’s the lament of King George III, it’s the lament of the King of the State -the lament of tyranny – seeing its own limitations, stuck in its limitations, confronted by revolution and prophetically realizing it’s going to be undone, and trying to have to meet and confront the revolution or relate to it in some way or other).

“Ah how shall Urizen the King submit to this dark mansion/Ah how is this! Once on the heights I stretchd my throne sublime/The mountains of Urizen once of silver where the sons of  wisdom dwelt/And on whose tops the Virgins sang are rocks of Desolation..” – (the Virgins are, according to commentators, the nine muses).

Student:  Why would his mountains would have once been silver?
AG:  Because silver is …
Student:  Emotion.
Student (2):  Luvahs
Student:  Luvah’s emotions?
AG:  Yeah.  Silver would be the emotions.  Once on mountains of pure good feelings, where the sons of wisdom dwell…  In other words, once I stretched my throne sublime on the heights of emotion.. Totally filled.

“My fountains once the haunt of Swans now breed the scaly tortoise/The houses of my harpers are become a haunt of crows/The gardens of wisdom are become a field of horrid graves/And on the bones I drop my tears & water them in vain/Once how I walked from my palace in gardens of delight/The sons of wisdom stood around the harpers followd with     harps./ Nine virgins..” – (The muses) –  “… clothd in light composd the song to their immortal  voices/ And at my banquets of new wine my head was crownd with joy/  Then in my ivory pavillions I slumberd in the noon/And walked in the silent night among sweet smelling flowers/Till on my.. – (Luvah-esque emotional) – “… silver bed” – (of sex) – “… I slept & sweet dreams around me hoverd/ But now my land is darkend & my wise men are departed.”

This could also be seen as the lament of America itself  –  the lament of (President) Jimmy Carter over America in the 1980s, approaching with rumors of recession and depression – this is the lament of America right now, actually (1979).  The lament of states. The lament of the fallen state, of the state about the fall.  The American Century is over.

“My songs are turned to cries of Lamentation/Heard on my Mountains & deep sighs under my palace roofs/ Because the Steeds of Urizen once swifter than the light/Were kept back from my Lord & from his chariot of mercies/My Lord is the Divine Vision in the chariot of mercies./O did I keep the horses of the day in silver pastures/The energy of intelligence in the pastures of emotion./O I refusd the Lord of day the horses of his prince/O I did close my treasuries with roofs of solid stone..” – (the skull) – “..And darken all my Palace walls with envyings & hate/ O Fool to think that I could hide from all his piercing eyes/The gold & silver & costly stones his holy workmanship/O Fool could I forget the light that filled my bright spheres/Was a reflection of his face who calld me from the deep.” – (“Let there be light“, from Genesis) – “I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice/Saying O light spring up & shine & I sprang up from the deep He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown/& said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean.”

to be continued

Audio for there above can be heard here, beginning at approximately ninety-six-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately one-hundred-and-a-quarter minutes in


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