Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Gates of Paradise Picture 9

This Plate is inscribed "I want! I want!" In the script for 'Gates' we have this couplet:
"On the shadows of the Moon
Climbing thro Nights highest noon."
From the Rosenwald Collection or the Rare Books Collection of the Library of Congress we have this picture:

It concerns "endless pursuit of desire" (Digby page 42). Blake had something else to say about that in There is No Natural Religion (Erdman page 2):
"More! More! is the cry of a mistaken soul, less than All cannot satisfy Man". As a young man Blake felt that nothing could trump desire, but he soon learned that he desired sustained creativity more than sensual excess.
The young man in the picture obviously had not learned that lesson. In Blake the moon symbolizes sense based materiality, as the sun does spiritual creativity.

Another picture that I dearly love is found in the National Gallery, by a luminist painter named Thomas Cole (Click twice; then to come back, do an alt left arrow):
This from Wikipedia/commons; it is the second of the Four stages of life, where the young man dreams of the air castles in the sky. The third page has him in late middle age going down the rapids and feverishly trying to avoid upset. The last one is the old man out into the pacific sea looking forward and upward to the angels. It seems to conform closely to Blake's myth.
Digby called our attention to another picture about refusing the sensual. It had become no problem for Jesus who had set his heart on something better.

This picture was one of Blake's illustrations to John Milton's Paradise Regained, which I found in Wikipedia Commons
So all three of these pictures display facets of a spiritual response for the young man crying for the moon. In spite of this obvious guidance it is too easy to concern ourselves with material possessions rather than the spiritual riches available to us.

1 comment:

Vincent said...
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