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2. J. 95: 2-20

In the Newsletter for June 1968, page 5, Anne Kostelanetz refers to plate 95 of Jerusalem as depicting “not Albion but ‘the Sun in heavy clouds’” who “takes his Bow” etc. I wonder if such a reading of the lines does not confuse vehicle and tenor. She cites lines 11-13 without recognizing that these lines (“Thou seest the Sun in heavy clouds / Struggling to rise . . . ”) begin an epic simile within a larger passage, lines 2-18, in which the subject is Albion as sun. Blake is describing the rising of Albion (pictured on the plate as a strong man rising up amid flamy radiation and with mouth open in commanding utterance). A dawn light of “Breath Divine” comes over the morning hills; as Albion rises “In anger,” his wrath (that breath from his mouth) and “the wrath of God breaking bright flaming on all sides around / His awful limbs” become one; by the time he, Albion, walks “into the Heavens . . . clothed in flames / Loud thundring . . . / . . . speaking . . . ” with “the Four Elements on all sides” around him, he is visualizable as a sun breathing fire through clouds. At that point we read: “Thou seest the Sun in heavy clouds / Struggling to rise above the Mountains. in his burning hand / He takes his Bow, . . . ” If this were not Blake, we would expect and be given an epic simile, a picture of sunrise to put beside the picture of Albion for comparison. But it is Blake, and he not only fails to use “like” or “as,” but he quickly incorporates what we might take as simile into the syntax of his main statement. If we forget that it is Albion-as-sun that we are to see, we may indulge in a vision of mere natural sun, personified, “Struggling to rise,” taking “his Bow” in “his burning hand” and so on. But we are firmly reminded, at line 16, that it is Albion and his Zoas, not the sun and clouds, that we must be “seeing”: “Compelling Urizen . . . Tharmas . . . / And Luvah . . . : Urthona he beheld. . . .” Mrs. Kostelanetz takes it that the Sun does the compelling and is not Albion. The poet has tried to tell us that it is Albion uttering the wrath of God,: the divine fire, who compels the elemental Zoas to their tasks.

Note, however, that one of the Zoas does not need compelling: “Urthona he beheld mighty labouring.” Los was the one of his four elements that did not sleep; Albion’s stand-in while Albion lay on the rock. I see that Anne refers in passing to the picture on plate 95 as “the youthful Los,” and that figures. Los with his youth renewed is of course Albion as bright-flaming utterer of the Breath Divine. Here we have a conundrum comparable to that of Plate 10 of America. Jack Grant nags me about the caption under the reproduction of that plate in the Doubleday Blake. When Los is Orc or Orc is Los, which single name do we use? And when Los is Albion or Albion Los, which? Or, to name the naked man in Jerusalem 95, can we employ Los’s name in Eternity, Urthona? I think not; he is still Albion until he beholds Urthona, whom he then in effect becomes. And it only confuses to call him Los.

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