Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Gates of Paradise Picture 6
This from the Library of Congress, Rosenwald Collection; click on it to get a larger image
It isn't very easy to see the relationship between this picture and the accompanying text.
"6. I rent the Veil where the Dead dwell:
When weary Man enters his Cave,
He meets his Saviour in the grave.
Some find a Female Garment there,
And some a Male, woven with care;
Lest the Sexual Garments sweet
Should grow a devouring Winding-sheet."
Man! this one is deep. I can only (reading Digby 30-37) make an attempt to explicate it here.
With "where the Dead dwell" means those of us who assume the mortal state. Blake also sometimes used the term Eternal Death, as Milton's "And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death!" (Milton plate 14 line 14; E108). And then at the beginning of Jerusalem: "Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through Eternal Death! and of the awakening to Eternal Life."
"The Redeemer is not only a God on High, but a seed hidden in the earth, in man himself" (Digby 34). Blake's God was above all imminent: "Seek not thy heavenly father then, beyond the skies" (Jerusalem plate 23, line 40).
"When weary Man enters his Cave": weary eternals do R and R in Beulah, then fall asleep (like Albion did) and enter the (platonic?) cave of mortal life.
The veil of course is what hides us from Eternity (and what hides the Eternals from mortal life). Christians including Blake believe of course that the Saviour is with us here always.
"Some find a Female Garment there,
And some a Male, woven with care;"
Blake doesn't mean two individuals, but the masculine and feminine dimension of each of us, in Jungian psychology the Eternal Youth, a "symbol of creative possibility" and the anima.
"Lest the Sexual Garments sweet
Should grow a devouring Winding-sheet", which is to say that without the Saviour's creative influence we simply sink deeper and "deeper into confusion and disillusion" (Digby 37).
Blake used garment to designate our physical bodies and everything else of a purely material nature.