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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Los as redemptive agent in the prophecies of William Blake Macmillan, Sybil


In the prophecies of William Blake, the chief agent in bringing about the Apocalyptic restoration of fallen man is the poet-prophet Los. In The Songs of Innocence and of Experience, the poet-prophet appears as the Bard who calls the lapsed soul to return to Innocence, the state of integrated vision. In the minor prophecies, as Blake moves into the fragmented mind of the individual in the state of Experience to show us the movement back to the integrated vision of Innocence, the poet-prophet emerges as Los. He is uncertain of his role, since Blake has not yet granted him the guiding influence of the inspiration of Jesus. With The Four Zoas comes the first complete statement of the myth of the fall and resurrection of man, represented by Albion, and with this myth comes the definition of the role of Los as the part of Albion who retains more of the Divine Vision than any of the other Zoas. At the crucial point in the myth of the fall, Jesus inspires Los, who then begins to build redemptive works of art amid the chaos, although, finally, restoration of Albion is not achieved in this poem. In Milton, the final movement toward Apocalypse begins. Although much of the poem deals with the appearance of the historical poet-prophet, Milton, within the mythic world of Los, the redemptive work proceeds as Los, with his family, builds Golgonooza, the city of art, as well as redemptive forms for the Spectres of the Dead, those formless abstractions which exist in a disordered mind. Jerusalem is a presentation of the Apocalyptic reunion of Albion and completes the movement begun in Milton. In this final prophecy, Los never doubts the Divine Vision of Jesus, and having subdued his Spectre, he works toward the resurrection with all his arts. Through Los, inspired as he is by Jesus, Albion achieves renewed vision and all the Zoas return to their rightful positions within him. His work done, Los returns to the Mental Warfare of Eternity in the form of Urthona, his equivalent within the resurrected Albion. Man, fallen from Innocence, is restored to Innocence through the work of one of the parts of his mind.

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