Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blake's Wrath

A Poison Tree
"I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine -

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree."
(Blake's Anger)

In a period of time look at this a dozen times. Now look again, and you may see something entirely different (is it double vision?)

Once there was a person who had married a man (late in life) whom she didn't know very well. He was wealthy, and he had a facade that impressed everyone with his goodness and benevolence (Matthew 23:27).

But as time went on, at home he seemed different; he was different; he was very different. He was a paragon of hypocritic holiness (line 26). She assumed the same role; they might fight like cats and dogs, but in public they were paragons of virtue; she (seemed to) loved and served their friends.

Then he died; their friends were no longer hers; she couldn't wait to get clear of them. Her Wrath had found an object in their mutual friends. Sad!

In A Poison Tree we see two Contraries; or is one of them a Negative?

How many ministers see their marriage disintegrate- and ruin their careers. No one knows why she left him for another; but she knows. The minister poured all his goodness on the parishioners, and had none left for his family. Hypocritic holiness was too delightful. So the poor wife leaves, or has a breakdown, or becomes interested in other men. Sad!

Blake felt considerable Wrath against many people, as in Erdman 639:
"I was once looking over the Prints from Rafael & Michael Angelo. in the Library of the Royal Academy Moser came to me & said You should not Study these old Hard Stiff & Dry Unfinishd Works of Art, Stay a little & I will shew you what you should Study. He then went& took down Le Bruns & Rubens's Galleries How I did secretly Rage. I also spoke my Mind [line cut away] I said to Moser, These things that you call Finishd are not Even Begun how can they then, be Finishd? The Man who does not know The Beginning, never can know the End of Art" (from Blake & Michaelangelo)

Blake had a special place (and meaning) for the word wrath:

"The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God" (MHH, plate 8; Erdman 36);

"Los rag'd and stamp'd the earth in his might & terrible wrath!
He stood and stampd the earth! then he threw down his hammer in rage &
In fury: then he sat down and wept, terrified! Then arose
And chaunted his song, labouring with the tongs and hammer:"
(Jerusalem plate 6; E149)

No comments: