Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plate 20


PLATE 20
But when they saw Albion fall'n upon mild Lambeths vale:
Astonish'd! Terrified! they hover'd over his Giant limbs.Then thus Jerusalem spoke, while Vala wove the veil of tears:
Weeping in pleadings of Love, in the web of despair.
Wherefore hast thou shut me into the winter of human life
And clos'd up the sweet regions of youth and virgin innocence:
Where we live, forgetting error, not pondering on evil:
Among my lambs & brooks of water, among my warbling birds:
Where we delight in innocence before the face of the Lamb:
Going in and out before him in his love and sweet affection.
Vala replied weeping & trembling, hiding in her veil.
When winter rends the hungry family and the snow falls:
Upon the ways of men hiding the paths of man and beast,
Then mourns the wanderer: then he repents his wanderings & eyes
The distant forest; then the slave groans in the dungeon of
stone.
The captive in the mill of the stranger, sold for scanty hire.
They view their former life: they number moments over and over;
Stringing them on their remembrance as on a thread of sorrow.
Thou art my sister and my daughter! thy shame is mine also!
Ask me not of my griefs! thou knowest all my griefs.
Jerusalem answer'd with soft tears over the valleys.
O Vala what is Sin? that thou shudderest and weepest
At sight of thy once lov'd Jerusalem! What is Sin but a little
Error & fault that is soon forgiven; but mercy is not a Sin
Nor pity nor love nor kind forgiveness! O! if I have Sinned
Forgive & pity me! O! unfold thy Veil in mercy & love!
Slay not my little ones, beloved Virgin daughter of Babylon
Slay not my infant loves & graces, beautiful daughter of Moab
I cannot put off the human form I strive but strive in vain
When Albion rent thy beautiful net of gold and silver twine;
Thou hadst woven it with art, thou hadst caught me in the bands
Of love; thou refusedst to let me go: Albion beheld thy beauty
Beautiful thro' our Love's comeliness, beautiful thro' pity.
The Veil shone with thy brightness in the eyes of Albion,
Because it inclosd pity & love; because we lov'd one-another!
Albion lov'd thee! he rent thy Veil! he embrac'd thee! he lov'd
thee!Astonish'd at his beauty & perfection, thou forgavest his furious
love:
I redounded from Albions bosom in my virgin loveliness.
The Lamb of God reciev'd me in his arms he smil'd upon us:
- 165 -
He made me his Bride & Wife: he gave thee to Albion.
Then was a time of love: O why is it passed away!
Then Albion broke silence and with groans reply'd
PLATE 21
O Vala! O Jerusalem! do you delight in my groans
You O lovely forms, you have prepared my death-cup:
The disease of Shame covers me from bead to feet: I have no hope
Every boil upon my body is a separate & deadly Sin.

Notes:

 Looking over the text en toto you may notice that beginning with Vala's statement in Plate 18 there's a continuous sequence in the story to the end of Chapter One (To the Public).

     Plate 20 appears to be primarily a statement that Jerusalem made to Vala: "
Then thus Jerusalem spoke...." Jerusalem is saying that Vala, her material counterpart has robbed Albion of his hold on Eternity.  The consequence (according to the Sacred Story) was the Visit to Earth of the Saviour; his compassion and passion led to universal redemption (such was Blake's faith IMO).

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