I have just updated our website – let us know what you think of the new look. The featured image is now Blake’s engraving of Orc in the fires of energy, from his book America a Prophecy.
Orc is Blake’s fiery spirit of youthful rebellion, who attempts to overturn the established order of society and bring new life and energy. He represents both political and sexual revolution. In America he taunts the controlling colonial power of Albion’s Angel. There are various theories about how Blake derived the name. So far as I’m concerned it is pretty clear that he adapted it from the Latin orcus – the name of a demon in hell who punished broken oaths, from the Greek Horkos, later becoming a name for the Underworld itself. In Blake’s later prophetic books it is Urizen, the embodiment of alienated reason who is at war with Orc. Goodness do they have at tough time:
His (Orc’s) fierce flames issued on all sides, Gathering strength in animating volumes, roaming abroad on all the winds, raging intense, reddening into resistless pillars of Fire rolling round and round, gathering Strength from the Earth’s consumed and heavens and all hidden abysses.
From The Four Zoas
Urizen resists with frozen storms and icy whirlwinds… Meanwhile the spirit of Imagination Los (aka Urthona) looks on horrified – sometimes taking one side sometimes the other. Orc cannot be denied, his energy must be faced and harnessed. Sadly recent events in the Middle East show us all too clearly what kind of destruction can be wreaked when this does not happen.
3 thoughts on “Orc in the fires of hell”
Looks great: it is amazing how well Blake’s colours reproduce on-line! I’ve seen many of the originals and can say this is pretty faithful!
Yes he had a way with colour as well as line
Blake used such vivid colours and dynamic lines in his work. He’s a fascinating character and this article reminds me I wanted to read a biography of him.