The Mental Traveller
"For who dare touch the frowning form
His arm is withered to its root,
Lions, boars, wolves, all howling flee
And every tree does shed its fruit;"
Perhaps Blake had touched the frowning form often enough to know the suffering it brought him. All the evidence from the Old Testament indicates that a respectful distance should be maintained from divine manifestations. Even looking upon the pagan gods and goddesses often had dire consequences. The woman with the issue of blood didn't touch Jesus; she touched the hem of his garment. Some things are too hot to handle.
Four Zoas, PAGE 113 , (E 384)
"Behold the time approaches fast that thou shalt be as a thing
Forgotten when one speaks of thee he will not be believd
When the man gently fades away in his immortality
When the mortal disappears in improved knowledge cast away
The former things so shall the Mortal gently fade away
And so become invisible to those who still remain
Listen I will tell thee what is done in the caverns of the grave"
Raine refers us of "King Jeroboam, whose arm was paralyzed when he attempted to seize a man of God who prophesied the birth of a new king who would pull down the old alters." She also says: "for Blake suggested that event [the last Judgment] in an image from the Book of Revelations which tells how at the end the stars will fall from heaven 'even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs.'"
"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind."
Back in verse 21 we read:
"With labyrinths of wayward love,
Where roams the lion, wolf and boar,"
When these wild creatures flee, the world of generation is ending.
"And none can touch that frowning form,
Except it be a woman old;
She nails him down upon the rock,
And all is done as I have told."
The babe, the energy from outside of the system, too unknown and unpredictable to be readily tamed, falls into the hands of the aged, decadent materialism which knows the techniques for defusing explosive situations. But her technique, repression, is a temporary measure and only begins the cycle again.
This passage from Percival explains why nailing the babe down on the rock initiates the repetition of the cycle.
Percival, William Blake's Circle of Destiny:
"Under the ethics of freedom and forgiveness, such as Blake believed had once obtained, the emotions corrected their excesses and mistakes in a natural and healthy way. But with the failure of love and forgiveness, and the consequent emergence of good and evil, the emotional life is divided against itself. The portion considered evil undergoes repression, but reappears as the demon Orc, the anarchist, the antichrist. The creative principle also shares in the general degradation. For the fires of the imagination require the fuel of experience - sense experience, emotional experience, and intellectual experience. When a portion of this sustenance is denied, the imagination to that extent is impoverished. The fourth principle, the body, also suffers from Urizen's condemnation of desire. For the struggle of good and evil within the mind results in warfare of body and soul. In this warfare the body suffers under metaphysical contempt and physical asceticism. Thus the attempt to suppress desire breeds more evil than it cures. It is, in fact, a phase of the original sin itself." (page 284)
Blake didn't believe that the cycle must endlessly repeat. He wanted to break the cycle by altering the parameters. His vision is an echo of Jesus' vision in its pristine, unadulterated form.
Here is more from Percival:
"To an age in which the older conceptions of God are becoming increasingly difficult to entertain, but in which the need for God is as great as ever, Blake offers a conception which is beyond the reach of science to destroy. This God is simply the Christ within the human breast. He is not a God afar off, remote and inaccessible; nor is he a pale abstraction offering little help or solace to human needs. He is alive and human within the breast, intimately and convincingly there. He is the vision, the imagination, the capacity to think nobly of oneself and one's fellow men, the capacity to forgive their mistakes and weaknesses, the determination, in spite of all, to build the New Jerusalem." (page 285)
As he ends this poem Blake makes again the plea that we, his readers, continue where he left off. In the last verse he takes us back to the beginning of the poem where we can start again with the same script or we can rewrite the script. But it is not the poem we are writing, it is the next chapter in the history of mankind. I wondered why he wrote 26 verses to Mental Traveller when 27 is the magic number. Then I realized that we are the Twenty-seventh Church. We are to decide if we start again with Adam or take a different path.
Jerusalem, Plate 76, (E 231)
"Thus are the Heavens formd by Los within the Mundane Shell
And where Luther ends Adam begins again in Eternal Circle
To awake the Prisoners of Death; to bring Albion again
With Luvah into light eternal, in his eternal day."