Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Blake's Watercolours for the Poems of Thomas Gray
The Bard. A Pindaric Ode
Design Number 63

Blake gives to the Bard a central role in Milton for it is he who inspires Milton to undertake his redemptive role through the 'underworld' of Beulah, Generation and Ulro after he has spent one hundred years in Eternity. Among the Eternals (including Milton) at eternal tables the Bard responds to the call to relate the cause of Milton's withdrawal form Eternity to reenter time.

Milton, Plate 2, (E 96)
Book the First

"Daughters of Beulah! Muses who inspire the Poets Song
Record the journey of immortal Milton thro' your Realms"
"Say first! what mov'd Milton, who walkd about in Eternity
One hundred years, pondring the intricate mazes of Providence
Unhappy tho in heav'n, he obey'd, he murmur'd not. he was silent
Viewing his Sixfold Emanation scatter'd thro' the deep
In torment! To go into the deep her to redeem & himself perish?
What cause at length mov'd Milton to this unexampled deed[?]
A Bards prophetic Song! for sitting at eternal tables,
Terrific among the Sons of Albion in chorus solemn & loud
A Bard broke forth! all sat attentive to the awful man."

For the next fourteen plates the Bard sings his song of the three classes of men and how they interact in the characters of Palamabron, Rintrah and Satan. When the song ends there is some confusion and dissatisfaction about his song but the Bard claims inspiration for the source of his song. The turmoil over his song sends the Bard into the bosom of Milton who acts decisively to return to life in order to deal with his Selfhood which he identifies with Satan.

PLATE 13 [14], (E 107)
"The Bard ceas'd. All consider'd and a loud resounding murmur
Continu'd round the Halls; and much they question'd the immortal
Loud voicd Bard. and many condemn'd the high tone'd Song
Saying Pity and Love are too venerable for the imputation
Of Guilt. Others said. It it is true! if the acts have been perform'd
Let the Bard himself witness. Where hadst thou this terrible Song

The Bard replied. I am Inspired! I know it is Truth! for I Sing
PLATE 14 [15]
According to the inspiration of the Poetic Genius
Who is the eternal all-protecting Divine Humanity
To whom be Glory & Power & Dominion Evermore Amen

Then there was great murmuring in the Heavens of Albion
Concerning Generation & the Vegetative power & concerning
The Lamb the Saviour: Albion trembled to Italy Greece & Egypt
To Tartary & Hindostan & China & to Great America
Shaking the roots & fast foundations of the Earth in doubtfulness
The loud voic'd Bard terrify'd took refuge in Miltons bosom

Then Milton rose up from the heavens of Albion ardorous!
The whole Assembly wept prophetic, seeing in Miltons face
And in his lineaments divine the shades of Death & Ulro
He took off the robe of the promise, & ungirded himself from the oath of God

And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death!"

In the second half of Milton we follow as Milton in his travels is united with Blake and Los in exploring the dilemmas inherent in the the role of the prophet.

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