Saturday, October 15, 2011

America Frontispiece

America a Prophecy begins with this frontispiece (copied from Wikipedia):

We really need a better representation to see the significant details. This one is wikicommon blake category.

The best way to see this picture is with the Blake Archive Fitzwilliam Museum, plate i (or this) Albion's Angel, the giant figure sits shackled and despondent. He's a giant, but the very human figure is a woman with two small children. The giant is eternal and the woman and children mortals.

PLATE 3 (of Jerusalem) SHEEP GOATS

To the Public

After my three years slumber on the banks of

the Ocean, I again display my Giant forms to

the Public: My former Giants & Fairies having

reciev'd the highest reward possible: the [love]

and [friendship] of those with whom to be connected, is to be [blessed]:

When Blake wrote of Giant forms as he beganJerusalem we have good reason to assume he meant the four zoas.

Two pictures later in the Preludium we learn that "his food she brought in iron baskets".

Taking the two images together it looks like an advance version of the sad story of Los taking his firstborn, Orc, up the the mountain and chaining him to a rock. Enitharmon feeds him until his strength grows; a man at last he pulls the chains out of the rock.

Read the Book of Urizen,

Plates 19 and 20. (E 79)

They call'd her Pity, and fled

11. "Spread a Tent, with strong curtains around them
"Let cords & stakes bind in the Void
That Eternals may no more behold them"

12. They began to weave curtains of darkness They erected large pillars round the Void
With golden hooks fastend in the pillars With infinite labour the Eternals
A woof wove, and called it Science

1. But Los saw the Female & pitied
He embrac'd her, she wept, she refus'd
In perverse and cruel delight
She fled from his arms, yet he followd

2. Eternity shudder'd when they saw,
Man begetting his likeness,
On his own divided image.

3. A time passed over, the Eternals
Began to erect the tent;
When Enitharmon sick,
Felt a Worm within her womb.

4. Yet helpless it lay like a Worm
In the trembling womb
To be moulded into existence

5. All day the worm lay on her bosom
All night within her womb
The worm lay till it grew to a serpent
With dolorous hissings & poisons
Round Enitharmons loins folding,

6. Coild within Enitharmons womb
The serpent grew casting its scales,
With sharp pangs the hissings began
To change to a grating cry,
Many sorrows and dismal throes,
Many forms of fish, bird & beast,
Brought forth an Infant form
Where was a worm before.

7. The Eternals their tent finished
Alarm'd with these gloomy visions
When Enitharmon groaning
Produc'd a man Child to the light.

8. A shriek ran thro' Eternity:
And a paralytic stroke;
At the birth of the Human shadow.

9. Delving earth in his resistless way;
Howling, the Child with fierce flames
Issu'd from Enitharmon.

10. The Eternals, closed the tent
They beat down the stakes the cords

From The Book of Urizen:


Stretch'd for a work of eternity; No more Los beheld
Eternity. 11. In his hands he siez'd the infant He bathed him
in springs of sorrow He gave him to Enitharmon

1. They named the child Orc, he grew Fed with milk of Enitharmon
2. Los awoke her; O sorrow & pain! A tight'ning girdle grew,
Around his bosom. In sobbings He burst the girdle in twain,
But still another girdle Opressd his bosom,
In sobbings Again he burst it. Again Another girdle succeeds
The girdle was form'd by day; By night was burst in twain.
3. These falling down on the rock Into an iron Chain
In each other link by link lock'd
4. They took Orc to the top of a mountain. O how Enitharmon wept!
They chain'd his young limbs to the rock With the Chain of Jealousy
Beneath Urizens deathful shadow

Plate 22 (from the British Museum) shows Urizen who shackled himself with his own laws.

No comments: