Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Contraries

The fruit of the Knowledge of God and Evil led to the Contraries:
Creation:  "In the beginning God created the Heavens and  the Earth: in the biblical myth this is the first (Blakean) contrary, but in Blake's myth Creation came after the Fall.  In this respect Blake was in accord with Gnostic and other religious systems.

Here are some of the Contraries:
Heaven and  Earth (Eternal and Mortal)
Good and Evil, which Blake found in Genesis 2.
 Night and Day
Unity and Duality
Male and Female
War and Peace
Thought and Action
Spirit and Flesh (Pauline: Romans 7 and 8  and Galatians 5)
A 'Bible soaked Protestant' Blake thought long and often about this as well as the other dichotomies.

Experience and Innocence:  (Innocence has a double meaning; in general it refers to babyhood, but there is an experienced innocence, sometimes called 'the blood of the lamb'.)
And many other Dualities

 This dichotomy concerns everyone. It underlays  Blake's 'System', and perhaps Everyone's.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell was an effort Blake made to deal with it:  for young William Blake Mortal Life was pretty close to Hell (Ulro, he called it).

To Tirzah  (Songs of Innocence and Experience; Erdman 30):

"Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth,
Must be consumed with the Earth
To rise from Generation free;
Then what have I to do with thee?

The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride
Blow'd in the morn: in evening died
But Mercy changd Death into Sleep;
The Sexes rose to work & weep.

Thou Mother of my Mortal part.
With cruelty didst mould my Heart.
And with false self-decieving tears,
Didst bind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears.

Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay
And me to Mortal Life betray:
The Death of Jesus set me free,
Then what have I to do with thee?"

(A post could well be written in the attempt to interpret that little song.  We might begin by interpreting "Thou Mother of my Mortal part".  It might lead to exploration of what Blake meant by 'female love'.

But most appropriate  to the fundamental  dichotomy is a verse from a poem in Ellie's post:
"The Door of Death is made of Gold,
That Mortal Eyes cannot behold;
But, when the Mortal Eyes are clos'd,
And cold and pale the Limbs repos'd,
The Soul awakes; and, wond'ring, sees
In her mild Hand the golden Keys:
The Grave is Heaven's golden Gate,
And rich and poor around it wait;
O Shepherdess of England's Fold,
Behold this Gate of Pearl and Gold!"
from To the Queen (Erdman 480)
Body and Soul

In his 'notebook' (The Four Zoas), starting with Man's four functions,  dealt with various polarities.  We may read of the destructive relationship of
Urizen was the great, proud, law-maker; he was quick to order people around, a typical masculine type. He wound up by casting out his emanation, Ahania;  with the Fall came alienation; you may find it in The Fours Zoas, or better The Book of Ahania, Chapter Five:

"1: The lamenting voice of Ahania Weeping upon the void.
And round the Tree of Fuzon: Distant in solitary night
Her voice was heard, but no form Had she: but her tears from clouds Eternal fell round the Tree
2: And the voice cried: Ah Urizen! Love! Flower of morning! I weep on the verge Of Non-entity; how wide the Abyss Between Ahania and thee!
3: I lie on the verge of the deep. I see thy dark clouds ascend, I see thy black forests and floods, A horrible waste to my eyes!
: Weeping I walk over rocks Over dens & thro' valleys of death Why didst thou despise Ahania To cast me from thy bright presence Into the World of Loneness
5: I cannot touch his hand: Nor weep on his knees, nor hear His voice & bow, nor see his eyes And joy, nor hear his footsteps, and My heart leap at the lovely sound! I cannot kiss the place Whereon his bright feet have trod, But I wander on the rocks With hard necessity.
6: Where is my golden palace Where my ivory bed Where the joy of my morning hour Where the sons of eternity, singing
7: To awake bright Urizen my king! To arise to the mountain sport, To the bliss of eternal valleys:
8: To awake my king in the morn! To embrace Ahanias joy On the bredth of his open bosom: From my soft cloud of dew to fall In showers of life on his harvests.
9: When he gave my happy soul To the sons of eternal joy: When he took the daughters of life. Into my chambers of love:
10: When I found babes of bliss on my beds. And bosoms of milk in my chambers Fill'd with eternal seed O! eternal births sung round Ahania In interchange sweet of their joys.
11: Swell'd with ripeness & fat with fatness Bursting on winds my odors, My ripe figs and rich pomegranates In infant joy at thy feet O Urizen, sported and sang;
12: Then thou with thy lap full of seed With thy band full of generous fire Walked forth from the clouds of morning On the virgins of springing joy, On the human soul to cast The seed of eternal science.
13: The sweat poured down thy temples To Ahania return'd in evening The moisture awoke to birth My mothers-joys, sleeping in bliss.
14: But now alone over rocks, mountains Cast out from thy lovely bosom: Cruel jealousy! selfish fear! Self-destroying: how can delight, Renew in these chains of darkness Where bones of beasts are strown On the bleak and snowy mountains Where bones from the birth are buried Before they see the light."
(Erdman 88-90)
Tharmas and Enion:
"Enion blind & age-bent wept upon the desolate wind:
Why does the Raven cry aloud and no eye pities her?
Why fall the Sparrow & the Robin in the foodless winter?
Faint! shivering they sit on leafless bush, or frozen stone
Wearied with seeking food across the snowy waste; the little
Heart, cold; and the little tongue consum'd, that once in thoughtless joy
Gave songs of gratitude to waving corn fields round their nest.
Why howl the Lion & the Wolf? why do they roam abroad?
Deluded by summers heat they sport in enormous love
And cast their young out to the hungry wilds & sandy desarts
Why is the Sheep given to the knife? the Lamb plays in the Sun
He starts! he hears the foot of Man! he says, Take thou my wool
But spare my life, but he knows not that winter cometh fast.
The Spider sits in his labourd Web, eager watching for the Fly
Presently comes a famishd Bird & takes away the Spider
His Web is left all desolate, that his little anxious heart
So careful wove; & spread it out with sighs and weariness.
This was the Lamentation of Enion round the golden Feast
Eternity groand and was troubled at the image of Eternal Death.
              (Four Zoas 1-17.2-18.9; E310) 

At last these polarities were all resolved with the Great Apocalypse, the End of (Mortal Life). In the End the two fundamental contraries (Heaven and Earth) are united (made one).  Here the Bible and Blake are in accord (cf Gospel of John, chapter 17 and Jerusalem, Plate 98).

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