Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blake's Beulah

Beulah Land
  • Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling,
    Then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand;
    Doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling,
    None of these shall move me from Beulah Land.
    • I'm living on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky,
      I'm drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry;
      O yes, I'm feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
      For I am dwelling in Beulah Land.
    Beulah occurs 182 times in Blake. Let's try to figure out just what he meant with the word. Look first at the Bible; Isaiah 62:4 appears to be the only place it's found there.

    The word beulah appears many times in the Four Zoas and also in Milton and in Jerusalem.

    In the Four Zoas:
    In Night 1 of The Four Zoas (On Erdman 302) we read this
    "There is from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant rest
    Namd Beulah a Soft Moony Universe feminine lovely
    Pure mild & Gentle given in Mercy to those who sleep Eternally.
    Created by the Lamb of God around
    On all sides within & without the Universal Man
    The Daughters of Beulah follow sleepers in all their Dreams
    Creating Spaces lest they fall into Eternal Death"

    So we might call Beulah a suburb of Heaven; you're not exactly in Heaven, but you're close.

    Now go back a few lines and you may read this:
    "Then Eno a daughter of Beulah took a Moment of Time
    And drew it out to Seven thousand years with much care & affliction
    And many tears & in Every year made windows into Eden
    She also took an atom of space & opend its center
    Into Infinitude & ornamented it with wondrous art
    Astonishd sat her Sisters of Beulah to see her soft affections
    To Enion & her children & they ponderd these things wondring
    And they Alternate kept watch over the Youthful terrors
    They saw not yet the Hand Divine for it was not yet reveald
    But they went on in Silent Hope & Feminine repose"

    Milton begins with a reference to Beulah:
    "Daughters of Beulah! Muses who inspire the Poets Song
    Record the journey of immortal Milton thro' your Realms
    Of terror & mild moony lustre, in soft sexual delusions
    Of varied beauty, to delight the wanderer and repose
    His burning thirst & freezing hunger!"
    (Read on if you want to begin to understand Milton.)

    On Plate 30 [33] we have this:
    "There is a place where Contrarieties are equally True
    This place is called Beulah, It is a pleasant lovely Shadow
    Where no dispute can come. Because of those who Sleep.
    Into this place the Sons & Daughters of Ololon descended
    With solemn mourning into Beulahs moony shades & hills
    Weeping for Milton: mute wonder held the Daughters of Beulah
    Enrapturd with affection sweet and mild benevolence

    Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity; appearing
    To the Inhabitants of Eden, around them on all sides.
    But Beulah to its Inhabitants appears within each district
    As the beloved infant in his mothers bosom round incircled
    With arms of love & pity & sweet compassion.
    But to The Sons of Eden the moony habitations of Beulah,
    Are from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant Rest."

    Pressing on to Jerusalem I found this on Erdman 156-7:
    "The Eastern Gate, fourfold: terrible & deadly its ornaments:
    Taking their forms from the Wheels of Albions sons; as cogs
    Are formd in a wheel, to fit the cogs of the adverse wheel.
    That toward Eden, eternal ice, frozen in seven folds
    Of forms of death: and that toward Beulah, stone:
    The seven diseases of the earth are carved terrible.
    And that toward Ulro, forms of war: seven enormities:
    And that toward Generation, seven generative forms.
    And every part of the City is fourfold; & every inhabitant, fourfold."
    (The Eastern Gate is surely a place for another post.)
    Look also at the fourfold post.

    The Sun at his Eastern Gate (Wikipaintings.org)

    If you're thoroughly confused here; then you're no worse than I am.

    But Plate 48 has more (much) more to say about Beulah. Read it carefully, and you'll gain a much better grasp of what Blake meant by Beulah; here is some of the most salient part:

    PLATE 48 of Jerusalem: These were [Albion's] last words, and the merciful Saviour in his arms
    Reciev'd him, in the arms of tender mercy and repos'd
    The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
    Upon the Rock of Ages. Then, surrounded with a Cloud:
    In silence the Divine Lord builded with immortal labour,
    Of gold & jewels a sublime Ornament, a Couch of repose,
    With Sixteen pillars: canopied with emblems & written verse.
    Spiritual Verse, order'd & measur'd, from whence, time shall
    The Five books of the Decologue, the books of Joshua & Judges,
    Samuel, a double book & Kings, a double book, the Psalms &
    The Four-fold Gospel, and the Revelations everlasting
    Eternity groan'd. & was troubled, at the image of Eternal Death!

    Beneath the bottoms of the Graves, which is Earths central joint,
    There is a place where Contrarieties are equally true:
    (To protect from the Giant blows in the sports of intellect,
    Thunder in the midst of kindness, & love that kills its beloved:
    Because Death is for a period, and they renew tenfold.)
    From this sweet Place Maternal Love awoke Jerusalem
    With pangs she forsook Beulah's pleasant lovely shadowy Universe
    Where no dispute can come; created for those who Sleep.

    Weeping was in all Beulah, and all the Daughters of Beulah
    Wept for their Sister the Daughter of Albion, Jerusalem:
    When out of Beulah the Emanation of the Sleeper descended
    With solemn mourning out of Beulahs moony shades and hills:
    Within the Human Heart, whose Gates closed with solemn sound."

    No comments: