Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gates of Paradise Picture 7

Here is Picture 7.
Click on it to get an enlargement.
It came from the Library of Congress
Rosenwald Collection 1814

The inscription reads: What are these? Alas! the Female Martyr
Is She also the Divine Image

Pretty tricky text! In this picture like many others single vision will tell us virtually nothing about Blake's thoughts and intentions here.

Here is the text which Blake associated with this picture:
"7. One dies! Alas! the Living and Dead!
One is slain! and One is fled!"

(The inscription on the picture, shown above, tells us more.)

The picture shows three figures: the large young man emanating joy, and two smaller ones: one dead and the other fleeing into the skies. All three are attributes of Blake (and you and me!).

Summarizing Digby (37-39) the picture shows our attitude toward the "grains of sand", the "Wild Flower" the "golden wings" of the last post. Digby cited another poem:
"He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy.
He who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity's sunrise."

I can cite the same idea from my own experience with Henry Wieman's Source of Human Good : Wieman, a naturalistic theologian (a school to which I belong!) pointed out two basic realities: the creative good and the creative event. You should be able to judge 'which was which' in the picture above.

Quoting Digby (37): "This is the art of life to which so few have found the secret. Either we miss what the moment offers, and it flies away forever; or, by trying to bend it to our will and purpose, we destroy it."

Choosing the Creative Event we may go through life enjoying it (called Living Eternally); or we may allow the Selfhood to rob us of it.

But there is a "deeper problem" (p.38) expressed in the inscription: " What are these? Alas! the Female Martyr
Is She also the Divine Image?"

The Divine Image represents the union of the two contraries: the answer to the above question is YES: the female (emanation) gives herself willing, and the male likewise, exemplified in Milton's return from Paradise "to redeem the female shade" (plate 36) while "the happy female joy is only actualized in self-sacrifice (Digby 38). For this principle Jerusalem Plate 96 is well worth reading carefully. It is the Moment of redemption, salvation, of union of the two into one and collectively the Brotherhood, for which Jesus prayed in John 17. Here is the text of Plate 96 :

"[Jesus said to Albion] if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love: As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood".

3 comments:

ellie said...

Here is a crucial point in the fall where Los says to Enitharmon (or Adam to Eve):

take comfort O Enitharmon
Couldst thou but cease from terror & trembling & affright
When I appear before thee in forgiveness of ancient injuries
Why shouldst thou remember & be afraid. I surely have died in
pain
Often enough to convince thy jealousy & fear & terror
Come hither be patient let us converse together because
I also tremble at myself & at all my former life" Four Zoas, (E 369)

Multiple deaths may be required before we can give up the fears and jealousies which terrorize us.

Ellie

Larry said...

Right, Ellie; they were required of Paul, who said "I die daily".

Susan J. said...

"Multiple deaths may be required before we can give up the fears and jealousies which terrorize us."

Amen to that! In my experience, fears and jealousies are like layers of an onion...