Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blake's Myth VI

There are many ways to interpret the two "Little Girl" poems in Songs of Experience.

Little Girl Lost

"In futurity I prophesy
That the earth from sleep
(Grave the sentence deep)
Shall arise, and seek
For her Maker meek;
And the desert wild [this mortal world]
Become a garden mild."

This is a capsule statement of Blake's myth; Here in Blake's inimitable poetry we have the biblical New Heaven and New Earth. It is also a promise of the happy outcome of his myth. For that look at Jerusalem, plates 96-99. Here's a fragment at the Beginning of Plate 97:
"Awake! Awake Jerusalem! O lovely Emanation of Albion Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time For lo! the Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day Appears upon our Hill: Awake Jerusalem..."

But to continue the first poem:
"In the southern clime, [the Eternal Realm]
Where the summer's prime

Never fades away,

Lovely Lyca lay.

Seven summers old

Lovely Lyca told.

She had wandered long,

Hearing wild birds' song.

Sweet sleep, come to me,

Underneath this tree;

Do father, mother, weep?
[like Demeter wept when she discovered what had happened to her daughter, Persephone.]
Where can Lyca sleep?

'Lost in desert wild

Is your little child.

How can Lyca sleep

If her mother weep?

'If her heart does ache,

Then let Lyca wake;

If my mother sleep,

Lyca shall not weep.

'Frowning, frowning night,

O'er this desert bright
Let thy moon arise,

While I close my eyes.

Sleeping Lyca lay,
While the beasts of prey,

Come from caverns deep,
Viewed the maid asleep."

The kingly lion stood, [lion=Pluto, king of the underworld]
"And the virgin viewed:
Then he gambolled round
O'er the hallowed ground.

Leopards, tigers, play

Round her as she lay;
While the lion old

Bowed his mane of gold,

And her bosom lick,

(This (substantially) reoccurred at Erdman 403, the ninth night of the Four Zoas; it appears to have been done by Luvah!)
And upon her neck,

From his eyes of flame,

Ruby tears there came;"

Why was the lion sorrowful? Did he mourn the descent of the soul?
"While the lioness

Loosed her slender dress,

And naked they conveyed

To caves the sleeping maid."

Such was one of the Songs of Innocence; now look at a Song of Experience:

Little Girl Found

"All the night in woe
Lyca's parents go

Over valleys deep,

While the deserts weep.

Tired and woe-begone,

Hoarse with making moan,

Arm in arm, seven days

They traced the desert ways.

Seven nights they sleep

Among shadows deep,

And dream they see their child

Starved in desert wild.

Pale through pathless ways

The fancied image strays,

Famished, weeping, weak,

With hollow piteous shriek.

Rising from unrest,

The trembling woman pressed

With feet of weary woe;

She could no further go.

In his arms he bore
armed with sorrow sore;

Till before their way

A couching lion lay.

Turning back was vain:

Soon his heavy mane

Bore them to the ground,

Then he stalked around,

Smelling to his prey;

But their fears allay

When he licks their hands,

And silent by them stands.
They look upon his eyes,

Filled with deep surprise;

And wondering behold

A spirit armed in gold.

On his head a crown,

On his shoulders down

Flowed his golden hair.

Gone was all their care.

'Follow me,' he said;

'Weep not for the maid;

In my palace deep,

Lyca lies asleep.
Then they followed
Where the vision led,

And saw their sleeping child
Among tigers wild.

To this day they dwell

In a lonely dell,

Nor fear the wolvish howl

Nor the lion's growl."

(Shades of Narnia; both authors depended on Isaiah (11:6 and 65:25).
Was Blake aware of Paul's statement in Romans 8:28:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

An earlier post on the little girls is well worth reading.
As was said earlier there are many interpretations of these two poems. For me the poems considered together illustrate once again Blake's myth of a Fall and a Return.
What does it mean to you?

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