Wednesday, August 04, 2010

An Excoriation

In regard to established religion Blake was uniformly harsh; Deism, the current fashion, was contemptible; Druism symbolized primitive savage religion. In his poetry druid appears 60 times: you may see it three times in Plate 98 of Jerusalem where he calls Albion's Spectre the Patriarch Druid:
"Where is the Covenant of Priam, the Moral Virtues of the Heathen
Where is the Tree of Good & Evil that rooted beneath the cruel
Of Albions Spectre the Patriarch Druid! where are all his Human
Sacrifices t
For Sin in War & in the Druid Temples of the Accuser of Sin:
The Oak Groves of Albion that coverd the whole Earth beneath his

Speaking of Druid Temples, if you perceive the
virtual identity between Church and State in
Blake's time, he used a similar figure in the
poem London from Songs of Experience:
"How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls, t
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls"

But the most excoriating passage came when he
compared it to the wicker man. In Plate 37 (of Erdman)
Milton he wrote:

So Ololon utterd in words distinct the anxious thought
Mild was the voice, but more distinct than any earthly
That Miltons Shadow heard & condensing all his Fibres
Into a strength impregnable of majesty & beauty infinite
I saw he was the Covering Cherub & within him Satan
And Raha[b], in an outside which is fallacious! within
Beyond the outline of Identity, in the Selfhood deadly
And he appeard the Wicker Man of Scandinavia in whom
Jerusalems children consume in flames among the Stars

And in Plate 38 (lines 64-66) of Jerusalem:
"Like Lakes of liquid lead: instead of heavenly Chapels, built
By our dear Lord: I see Worlds crusted with snows & ice;
I see a Wicker Idol woven round Jerusalems children."

You may recall the Illustrations of the Book of Job,
especially the images of the cathedral in the upper left
corner to the early pictures with the sun going down. In the last
picture it's no longer there with the sun coming up in the right;
upper corner. The cathedral of course symbolizes conventional
eligion; Christianity? yes, yes! Churchianity: two thumbs down!
That was Blake!

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