With its double columns of text and divisions into chapters and verses, the format of The [First] Book of Urizen indicates its close relationship to the Bible. The poem is in many respects a heterodox rewriting of Genesis, one in which the creation of the universe is seen as a fall into materiality and its abstract laws. The process is initiated by Urizen when he separates himself from his fellow “Eternals” and thereby creates difference, absence, and self-consciousness. As Urizen falls into this void of his own making, Los reacts by building a material and temporal base below which Urizen cannot descend. Through this narrative of ultimate origins, Blake explores fundamental epistemological and ontological issues.(Text from the William Blake Archive, with thanks.)
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