Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Blake's Love

He used the word 782 times in The Complete Works.
Some of them are innocuous:
"53. I hate scarce smiles I
love laughing  (Annotations to Lavater; Erdman 585)

Some are sacred:
"63. my mother; & St John. Whoso dwelleth in love dwelleth in God ....
64. God in him. & such an one cannot judge of any but in love" (Annotations Erdman 599)

Others in the purest sense:
71. He who Loves feels love descend into him & if he has wisdom may perceives it is from the Poetic Genius which is the Lord. (Ann.Swedenborg, Erdman 603)

This from the Clod of Clay in Thel:
"O beauty of the vales of Har, we live not for ourselves.
Thou seest me the meanest thing, and so I am indeed:
My bosom of itself is cold, and of itself is dark,
But he that loves the lowly pours his oil upon my head,
And kisses me, and binds his nuptial bands around my breast,
And says: "Thou mother of my children, I have loved  thee,
And I have given thee a crown that none can take away."
But how this is, sweet maid, I know not, and I cannot know;
I ponder, and I cannot ponder, yet I live and  love.'"

This one is so rich! The Clod of Clay represents Mother Earth. 'He who loves the lowly' can only be God (the godlike!).

In general one gets the feeling that Blake was very reticent in his prophetic works in using godly love.
Instead he most often seemed to speak of female love.

In the poem that has been given the name Broken Love Blake tried to distinguish between what theologicans might call carnal love and godly love. Blake's term for the first is female love directed by the Spectre or the Selfhood.

He had tersely and succinctly made the distinction in
The Clod and the Pebble:
"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite."

In the closing plates of Jerusalem Blake went to great length in setting forth the distinction between selfish love and godly love, but to grasp this well the reader would require much study.

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