Friday, April 01, 2011


Katherine Raine's Blake and Antiquity points out numerous ways in which the account of Vala and Luvah as they are sent into the 'vegetable' world follow the pattern of Cupid and Psyche in the myth of Apuleius. The house that Luvah provides for Vala is the 'body into which the soul enters when in "sleep she descends from Eternity."'

Four Zoas, Page 128, (E 397)
"My Luvah here hath placd me in a Sweet & pleasant Land
And given me fruits & pleasant waters & warm hills & cool valleys
Here will I build myself a house & here Ill call on his name
Here Ill return when I am weary & take my pleasant rest

So spoke the Sinless Soul & laid her head on the downy fleece
Of a curld Ram who stretchd himself in sleep beside his mistress
And soft sleep fell upon her eyelids in the silent noon of day

Then Luvah passed by & saw the sinless Soul
And said Let a pleasant house arise to be the dwelling place
Of this immortal Spirit growing in lower Paradise

He spoke & pillars were builded & walls as white as ivory
The grass she slept upon was pavd with pavement as of pearl
Beneath her rose a downy bed & a cieling coverd all

Vala awoke. When in the pleasant gates of sleep I enterd
I saw my Luvah like a spirit stand in the bright air
Round him stood spirits like me who reard me a bright house
And here I see thee house remain in my most pleasant world

PAGE 129
My Luvah smild I kneeled down he laid his hand on my head
And when he laid his hand upon me from the gates of sleep I came
Into this bodily house to tend my flocks in my pleasant garden

So saying she arose & walked round her beautiful house
And then from her white door she lookd to see her bleating lambs
But her flocks were gone up from beneath the trees into the hills

I see the hand that leadeth me doth also lead my flocks
She went up to her flocks & turned oft to see her shining house
She stopd to drink of the clear spring & eat the grapes & apples
She bore the fruits in her lap she gatherd flowers for her bosom
She called to her flocks saying follow me O my flocks

They followd her to the silent vall[e]y beneath the spreading trees
And on the rivers margin she ungirded her golden girdle
She stood in the river & viewd herself within the watry glass
And her bright hair was wet with the waters She rose up from the river
And as she rose her Eyes were opend to the world of waters
She saw Tharmas sitting upon the rocks beside the wavy sea
He strokd the water from his beard & mournd faint thro the summer vales

And Vala stood on the rocks of Tharmas & heard his mournful voice"

From Raine, Page 23:
"We recognize the familiar theme of descent and return; Psyche's marriage, like the descent of soul in Porpyhry's myth, is described as a kind of death; ... Vala in the poem that bears her name makes the descent Thel refused; and her figure is enriched by attributes of Psyche."

From the Small Book of Designs
Thel Observing Lovers

In the introduction to Blake and Antiquity, Raine comments: "These lectures contain the essential theme of the larger book [Blake and Tradition] - a thesis more acceptable in 1977 than fifteen years ago, when I sought to establish, in detail which may now seem over-elaborate, Blake's indebtedness to Neo-Platonic and other sources within what may be called the canon of the Western esoteric tradition."

No comments: