Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two Kinds of Love

Blake used many words and phrases as metaphors for complex ideas that may appear opaque to the common intellect. Such a phrase is 'female love'. You can find many occurrences in this blog.

For example:
Till I turn from Female love
And root up the Infernal Grove,
I shall never worthy be
To step into Eternity."
This fraction of the poem, Broken Love is also called My Spectre Around Me Night and Day.

The metaphor (female love) is calculated today to antagonize and estrange many women who may come upon it; in Blake's day it may have been less unacceptable.

In any generation the term may mean little to the ordinary intellect. The more incisive and knowledgeable mind may know that age old mythology posits the Sun God as masculine and the Moon Goddess feminine. Following that traditional teaching might lead the reader to a realization that Blake's female love is not a slam to the gender, but a metaphor for a reality as vibrant today as it was in the early 19 century.

For Blake love like everything else contained contraries; descriptions current in our generation as in Blake's might be 'romantic love and mercenary love', or 'selfless love and selfish love'.

Female love becomes clear with The Clod and the Pebble. You may easily determine which is female love.

There are many examples of this dichotomy in Blake, in other English literature, and in our current scene:

Pride and Prejudice analyses the two forms of love in depth.
If female love is an archetype, then Charlotte is the antitype.
Lizzie of course comes down for romantic love. I expect Shakespeare also had a lot to say on this subject.

Ardent women's libbers are likely to despise Blake's metaphor, 'female love'; truly liberated women understand and appreciate it.

Throughout the world American men are noted and admired for their respect for womankind, a trait emphatically shared by William Blake.

In love with a Brasilera once in 1946 I asked her how her friends seemed to be so taken with American men; her answer was eloquent, "because they are not malicioso".
Indeed there are many men in America who still love by the Playboy model and see women only as objects of enjoyment, but much less IMO than in other parts of the world.

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