Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thel 5

But he that loves the lowly, pours his oil upon my head.
And kisses me, and binds his nuptial bands around my breast.
And says; Thou mother of my children, I have loved thee.
And I have given thee a crown that none can take away
But how this is sweet maid, I know not, and I cannot know,
I ponder, and I cannot ponder; yet I live and love.

The daughter of beauty wip'd her pitying tears with her white veil,
And said. Alas! I knew not this, and therefore did I weep:
That God would love a Worm I knew, and punish the evil foot
That wilful, bruis'd its helpless form: but that he cherish'd it
With milk and oil, I never knew; and therefore did I weep,
And I complaind in the mild air, because I fade away,
And lay me down in thy cold bed, and leave my shining lot.
Queen of the vales, the matron Clay answerd; I heard thy sighs.
And all thy moans flew o'er my roof. but I have call'd them down:
Wilt thou O Queen enter my house. 'tis given thee to enter,
And to return; fear nothing. enter with thy virgin feet.

Notes: Who is speaking here? Why the Clod of Clay! Plate 5 takes up right where Plate 6 ended. Blake spoke of the Clod of Clay later in The Clod and the Pebble. We learn in the Bible that man is made in the image of God, and made of the earth.

The image shows Thel sitting among the flowers with folded arms looking down at two young figures: a woman and an infant. Who might they be? Why, the Clod of Clay and the Worm.

(For Blake the Worm was a very significant metaphor. At Gates of Paradise we read: "I have said to the Worm, Thou art my mother & my sister")

"Thel, with her skirt the naked matron and the naked infant with outflung arms...who face each other with nothing to fear---
to apply words which the matron uses to encourage Thel herself."
(Erdman, The Illuminated Blake, page 39)

Thel is like an infant and the Cloud of Clay (as well as the other objects Thel is witnessing) are trying to encourage Thel to choose (mortal) life; unfortunately they failed.

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