1] First engraved in 1794, in twenty-eight plates. Originally called "The First Book of Urizen," and apparently intended to be the first part of an epic poem following the biblical narrative from Genesis onwards, as Blake interpreted it. Urizen (from the Greek horizein) is the spirit of human intelligence, originally divine, but in the fallen world becoming the kind of reason that separates man from nature by developing abstract ideas, and leading to the worship of mechanical order in Nature. This in turn rationalizes cruelty and suffering by some kind of fatalism or belief in a necessary tyrannical order. In Blake's thought the fall of man and the creation of the present world are the same event.
9] ninefold. The present universe is often thought of as having nine spheres (cf. the "nine enfolded spheres" in Milton's Arcades).
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: William Blake, The Book of Urizen (1794).
First publication date: 1794
RPO poem editor: Northrop Frye
RP edition: 3RP 2.292.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14
Form note: unrhymed
Other poems by William Blake