“Shall we worship this Demon of Smoke,”
Said Fuzon, “This abstract non-entity
This cloudy God seated on Waters
Now seen, now obscur’d; King of sorrow?”
The Book of Ahania is rather like the Book of Los; it’s partly a retelling of the Book of Urizen, but it also contains new material. Ahania is Urizen’s Emanation. Did I explain about Emanations? Doubtful. So, every central being in Blake’s mythology is split into two parts, right? Which gets back to his idea about balance; when these parts split, they form an original being and an Emanation and this always causes problems because these two halves no longer form a whole. Blake’s central figures, like Urizen, are male; the Emanations are female. So, Ahania is essentially the female side of the coin while Urizen is the male side. Ahania becomes an Emanation in this poem, splitting away from Urizen as he grows more cruel and moralistic. This poem, if I’m recalling the other poems correctly, introduces Fuzon who is the son of Urizen & Ahania; he is, like Orc, a figure of rebellion. In this poem, he rebels against Urizen and Urizen crucifies him on the Tree of Mystery, a central image in Blake which stands in for the Cross of Calvary. Fuzon is a Christ figure, but this poem is also tied to the story of Exodus; the fight between Urizen and Fuzon is over the nation of Israel. Urizen triumphs over Fuzon when Urizen is able to dictate the Ten Commandments to Moses. Because . . . Urizen represents harshness, unbending morality, inflexible rules, the Jehovah of the Old Testament. I think you see what I mean when I say that Blake’s poetry just operates on an unbelievable number of levels. In fact, it was with this poem that I started doing something I don’t think I’ve done since college; the book I’m reading all of Blake’s poems out of is heavily annotated (there’s a solid three-hundred pages of notes). I’m all about having an emotional and personal reaction to art, so I would tend to read something and then read the notes afterwards; but things have gotten so incredibly complex and layered that I started actually reading the notes before I read the corresponding work. Even so, I still feel like I’m only getting parts of the meaning and significance of everything Blake is doing. This is mind-blowing stuff. But this book has a strong emotional component as well. It is, after all, the Book of Ahania and this conflict between Urizen, her husband, and Fuzon, her son, is told in large part from her perspective; she’s a sorrowful and lamenting character, able to see the foolishness of Urizen, but unable to intervene to save her son or to draw her husband back to reasonableness. It’s a smartly written poem, perhaps less masterful than some of Blake’s other mythological works, but this signals a new level of complexity. 3 stars.
tl;dr – Blake’s mythology is more masterfully executed elsewhere, but this poem remains fascinating and signals a new level of spiritual, symbolic and philosophical complexity. 3 stars.