The next session of the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Research Group will take place at 4pm on Weds 2nd October in MB3201 (Minvera Building).
‘”I am God from Eternity to Eternity”: reading William Blake’s The Four Zoas’
Vala, or The Four Zoas is one of William Blake’s most over-looked and under-read works. An unfinished manuscript containing an epic prophecy of over 4000 lines, that was not published in its entire (highly edited) form until 1893, this poem forms the connection between the earlier Lambeth prophecies and the later, much longer epics of Milton and Jerusalem. The Four Zoas is the hinge between the two differing styles and forms, showing the development of Blake’s mythological structure as well as his poetic techniques. Due to the new digital versions, the poem is now becoming more available to the wider public in its original form.
By placing The Four Zoas in its historical connection to Blake’s illuminations of Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, I will consider how these two texts work together to create a new way of reading both; linking artwork with artwork, as well as text. This connection between texts to create new ways of reading is then expanded to include my PhD research on linking The Four Zoas and Jewish Biblical poetry. Whilst Blake’s poem is usually considered a Christian epic, it is important to consider how the poetic techniques of the Old Testament influenced the text, changing how we read and understand each text.
Annise Rogers is a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Lincoln. Her thesis research focuses on William Blake’s The Four Zoas, the poem’s place within the canon of Blake’s works, and its connections to Jewish Biblical poetry.