Monday, December 20, 2010


To complete this series of posts on the Crystal Cabinet, let's consider what I call the psychological meaning. We will look at the poem solely as it concerns interior mental processing.

The Crystal Cabinet, (E 488)
"The Maiden caught me in the Wild
Where I was dancing merrily
She put me into her Cabinet
And Lockd me up with a golden Key

The unconscious, innocent is caught by the beginning of awareness.

This Cabinet is formd of Gold
And Pearl & Crystal shining bright
And within it opens into a World
And a little lovely Moony Night

The altered consciousness takes possession of the mind and begins to reveal the unknown.

Another England there I saw
Another London with its Tower
Another Thames & other Hills
And another pleasant Surrey Bower

The ability to see more and differently expands ordinary perception.

Another Maiden like herself
Translucent lovely shining clear
Threefold each in the other closd
O what a pleasant trembling fear

The original experience becomes an avenue to further experience.

O what a smile a threefold Smile
Filld me that like a flame I burnd
I bent to Kiss the lovely Maid
And found a Threefold Kiss returnd

Head, heart and loins are sensitized, reinforcing the experience.

I strove to sieze the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame
But burst the Crystal Cabinet
And like a Weeping Babe became

The spontaneous experience is destroyed when an attempt is made to possess it.

A weeping Babe upon the wild
And Weeping Woman pale reclind
And in the outward air again
I filld with woes the passing Wind"

The return to the previous consciousness feels like a loss and regression.
The outer world is sullied in comparison to the imaginative world which has been revealed.

Image - Book of Thel, plate 4

Blake as usual leaves his statement open-ended. Where do 'I' go from here? Is the altered state of consciousness attractive enough that I want to pursue it? Is seeing the pale, reclining, weeping woman a result of visiting the Crystal Cabinet?
The carefree boy of the first verse has become burdened with woes he cannot control, but a world of possibility has been opened to him.

Marriage of Heaven and Hell
, PLATE 12 (E 38)
A Memorable Fancy
"Isaiah answer'd. I saw no God. nor heard any, in a finite
organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in
every thing, and as I was then perswaded. & remain confirm'd;"

I am reminded of this statement from Fritjof Capra in The Web of Life.
"At a certain level of complexity a living organism couples structurally not only to its environment but also to itself, and thus brings forth not only an external but also an inner world. In human beings the bringing forth of such an inner world is linked intimately to language, thought and consciousness."

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