by John Emslie THE WORD ZOA is Greek. It means ‘living one’. In the Book of Ezekiel, zoa is the name of the four creatures who pull the chariot of God’s Spirit. William Blake, The Works of William Blake: Poetic, Symbolic, and Critical, III, ed. Edwin J. Ellis and William Butler Yeats (London: Quaritch, ). PR E5. The Four Zoas (Excerpt) by William is the price of Experience do men buy it for a song Or wisdom for a dance in the street No it is bought with the.

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I think the tone of this letter expresses more than the need to keep in favor with a more orthodox patron; it suggests that as Blake progressed into fourfold vision, Christianity assumed a new meaning for him. The plain-hand portions of The Four Zoas offer even less evidence than pages in copperplate hand concerning methods of publication. In a letter to Hayley of 23 OctoberBlake suddenly made an unusually enthusiastic announcement: I seiz’d thee, dark Urthona.

Likewise there is literally no primordial story behind the surface details of the poem’s narrative. Pages may have been bound together some time after this date; and as we have seen, at least one leaf pages seems to have been bound before any thing was written on it. The sudden, apocalyptic battle-signal should herald the eruption of warfare.

The relatively complete exposure of this figure, in conjunction with her struggle to break free from the zoqs, structurally parallels both the verbal foyr of the lamentations of Fout and Enion on this page and their contrapuntal zosa — hope and despair.

This essay is the intellectual property of the author and cannot be printed or distributed without the author’s express written permission other than excerpts for purposes consistent with Fair Use. The relatively pleasant images in the design of a dream on this page parody Urizen’s xoas descent into his worst nightmare, and the orderly albeit potentially disturbing circular placement of the figures parodies the threat of The Four Zoas narrative dismally recycling itself.

Re-Visioning William Blake’s The Four Zoas

They raise their faces from the earth, conversing with the Man: In what follows I will fkur assume that the deletions and marginal additions to pages bearing fine script, as well as designs that intrude into fine text areas zzoas page 25, for examplewere made after the abandonment of whatever intentions for publication the copperplate hand s may embody. Foster Damon David V. It consists of nine books, referred to as “nights”. John of Patmos sees the four in a vision of the Apocalypse.


After the reconciliation on page 90which sets another part of the scheme of redemption in motion, the narrative would return to the confrontation between Vala and Orc, prepared for in Like many of Blake’s works, designs in Vala depict sexual activity or the genitals of the individual.

This increase in size, together with the fact that the introduction of a scheme of divine intervention would have a far-reaching effect on the poem as a whole, may have prompted Blake to undertake a major reorganization of the narrative sequence of the Night. Night VIII is manifestly composite, and consists of: Page has a full-page engraving of the risen Christ, and page has a full-page drawing which may represent the risen Man.

Venus, for instance, is pulled by a chariot of doves, a symbol of love. Still I Rise Maya Angelou.

The new beginning of the ninth Night was probably transcribed at about the same time. Europe a Prophecy was lines and was printed on copperplates that measured 23 x 17 cm. There is a particularly Blakean moment in the final vision of Jerusalem when Albion and Jesus meet wherein Albion says that Jesus resembles his friend Los. aoas

No, it is bought with the price Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children. Zosa addition at Vala, or The Four Zoas Oxford: The existence of VIIb suggests that Blake was extremely reluciant to discard material once it had been used in the poem, and so it may be possible to find traces in VIII of material introduced in any previous revision even if it has been subsequently modified.

Literature: Understanding Blake’s Zoas

There are traces of a narrative sequence which may have been dislocated in the process of revision. There are obvious precedents for such a sequence in Revelation Although VIIb had just under lines as originally transcribed comparable to VI and VIIalit was transcribed on four leaves instead of the usual five, and no room was left for a full-page drawing on the final page. Yet the visual images in no direct way “illustrate” central features of the “event” of this “fall.

Thus, the two figures wrestling do not simply allegorize the reader’s resistive struggle with this apocalyptic text though this is certainly a dimension of the design’s subversive referentiality but also the struggle between Los and Urthona for ontological priority over one another at the close of the poem — figures frozen in a twisting identity-in-difference. In the manuscript as it now stands, the texts of pages have been interpolated into the eighth Night at two points: So we must rely on internal evidence: If we now consider the manuscript as a mockup, it is reasonable to begin with the assumption that the three hands may indicate at least two different intentions to publish.


The relationship between Los and Enitharmon is at its lowest ebb.

The copperplate hand in The Four Zoas is of course in ink on paper, and I suspect that even a soft-wax process would not permit its transfer.

Within this draft the lengths of the Nights had tended to increase towards the end of the poem, and there had obviously been some development in the symbolism. It is certainly possible that Blake was paid partly in copper for his labors on Night Thoughtsregardless of who retained the rights to publish the images first etched on the plates.

Vala or The Four Zoas

Nor can we be sure at what stage in the process of composition the manuscript was bound. If this is indeed the case, then the suggestions presented here can be summarized as a three-step process of changing plans for a manuscript reflecting those changes as follows: Clarendon Press,II, The foregoing has clearly proven only one proposition: The description of the Council of God in the eighth Night, then, is closely related to the first addition at the end of IV and to the passage in VIIb describing the formation of Satan, and it was probably introduced during the revision which produced VIIb.

These outline the interactions of the Zoas, their fallen forms and their Emanations. The vision includes four Wonders of the Almighty Incomprehensible. As in Urizenthe intervention of the Eternals described in The text carefully follows the new lower left margin created by the outline of the back. The song which features Tirzah and the passage which introduces Rahab suggest that Blake was trying to contain as concisely as possible a mythology which was rapidly developing beyond the original myth of the poem.