Sunday, December 04, 2011

Plate 9

  3. Text:
  4. PLATE 9
  5. Condens'd his Emanations into hard opake substances;
  6. And his infant thoughts & desires, into cold, dark, cliffs of
  7. death.
  8. His hammer of gold he siezd; and his anvil of adamant.
  9. He siez'd the bars of condens'd thoughts, to forge them:
  10. Into the sword of war: into the bow and arrow:
  11. Into the thundering cannon and into the murdering gun
  12. I saw the limbs form'd for exercise, contemn'd: & the beauty of
  13. Eternity, look'd upon as deformity & loveliness as a dry tree:
  14. I saw disease forming a Body of Death around the Lamb
  15. Of God, to destroy Jerusalem, & to devour the body of Albion
  16. By war and stratagem to win the labour of the husbandman:
  17. Awkwardness arm'd in steel: folly in a helmet of gold:
  18. Weakness with horns & talons: ignorance with a rav'ning beak!
  19. Every Emanative joy forbidden as a Crime:
  20. And the Emanations buried alive in the earth with pomp of
  21. religion:
  22. Inspiration deny'd; Genius forbidden by laws of punishment:
  23. I saw terrified; I took the sighs & tears, & bitter groans:
  24. I lifted them into my Furnaces; to form the spiritual sword.
  25. That lays open the hidden heart: I drew forth the pang
  26. Of sorrow red hot: I workd it on my resolute anvil:
  27. I heated it in the flames of Hand, & Hyle, & Coban
  28. Nine times; Gwendolen & Cambel & Gwineverra
  29. Are melted into the gold, the silver, the liquid ruby,
  30. The crysolite, the topaz, the jacinth, & every precious stone,
  31. Loud roar my Furnaces and loud my hammer is heard:
  32. I labour day and night, I behold the soft affections
  33. Condense beneath my hammer into forms of cruelty
  34. But still I labour in hope, tho' still my tears flow down.
  35. That he who will not defend Truth, may be compelld to defend
  36. A Lie: that he may be snared and caught and snared and taken
  37. That Enthusiasm and Life may not cease: arise Spectre arise!
  38. Thus they contended among the Furnaces with groans & tears;
  39. Groaning the Spectre heavd the bellows, obeying Los's frowns;
  40. Till the Spaces of Erin were perfected in the furnaces
  41. Of affliction, and Los drew them forth, compelling the harsh
  42. Spectre
Much could be said about this picture:
a. Along the right border we see the inevitable tree and beneath it a figure resembling the piper who piped his song about a lamb; the context of course suggests it's the shepherd. (Do shepherds pipe? indeed, yes!)

b. The shepherd is piping to a herd of sheep; they are interpolated between lines 16 and 18.
The middle part shows the (equally) inevitable serpent, his tail coinciding with the roots of the tree. (Remember the story of Arc: we read in Plate 14: "He views the Cherub at the Tree of Life, also the Serpent, Orc the first born coild in the south" Blake associates Orc with Revolution, with the serpent climbing up the Tree of Mystery, the Dragon, and many other pointers to Ulro in its various forms.

c. The bottom picture: Oh my! What little I can get from this picture is owing to Erdman's Illuminated Blake (page 288): he suggested we look at Job 12; in that light it's much like Job's friends at the left, Job's wife prostated, Job, who has everything upside down.  The falling stars hark back to Tyger: "when the stars threw down their spears..." (Erdman 25) Another view might be Albion, gone to sleep, sending his four zoas into Ulro. It all fits together, like all Blake's work. You pick!


Susan J. said...

Hi Larry & Ellie --

oy! oy! oy! I say... this is a tough nut to crack...

what first caught my eye was your turn of phrase "the inevitable tree" -- and then "the (equally) inevitable serpent" --

any chance you could add some hypertext links? -- or the "labels" off to the left? -- for such important terms in your commentary as:

I'm afraid I've never gained the ability to easily look up such terms online, or if I do, by the time I find them I can't remember why I was looking them up...

Maybe you could put a "search" box on the main blog page, or a link to an online edition of... what's the name of the Blake Dictionary author? I have his book somewhere, but usually not handy...

Anyway, just suggestions. In truth I know my time would be better spent studying the image and Blake's words alongside, than chasing references... OK, OK, that's what I'll do now.

Susan J. said...

I do see quite a few of Blake's "technical terms" in the poem itself, in the Labels list... Emanations, Jerusalem, etc... :-)

Larry said...

Go to this link:

In the blank space fill in tree;
see what Blake said about tree.

Then fill in serpent
Then fill in orc, ulro, etc.

When you've seen how many times Blake used the word, you are well on your way to knowing what we know about it.

I have to prioritize my time; in fact my primary blogging interests are elsewhere.