Monday, January 02, 2012

Plate 21

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Then Albion broke silence and with groans reply'd

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.
Doubt first assaild me, then Shame took possession of me
Shame divides Families. Shame hath divided Albion in sunder!
First fled my Sons, & then my Daughters, then my Wild Animations
My Cattle next, last ev'n the Dog of my Gate. the Forests fled
The Corn-fields, & the breathing Gardens outside separated
The Sea; the Stars: the Sun: the Moon: drivn forth by my disease
All is Eternal Death unless you can weave a chaste
Body over an unchaste Mind! Vala! O that thou wert pure!
That the deep wound of Sin might be clos'd up with the Needle,
And with the Loom: to cover Gwendolen and Ragan with costly Robes
Of Natural Virtue, for their Spiritual forms without a Veil
Wither in Luvahs Sepulcher. I thrust him from my presence
And all my Children followd his loud howlings into the Deep.
Jerusalem! dissembler Jerusalem! I look into thy bosom:
I discover thy secret places: Cordella! I behold
Thee whom I thought pure as the heavens in innocence & fear:
Thy Tabernacle taken down, thy secret Cherubim disclosed
Art thou broken? Ah me Sabrina, running by my side:
In childhood what wert thou? unutterable anguish! Conwenna
Thy cradled infancy is most piteous. O hide, O hide!
Their secret gardens were made paths to the traveller:
I knew not of their secret loves with those I hated most,
Nor that their every thought was Sin & secret appetite
Hyle sees in fear, he howls in fury over them, Hand sees
In jealous fear: in stern accusation with cruel stripes
He drives them thro' the Streets of Babylon before my face:
Because they taught Luvah to rise into my clouded heavens
Battersea and Chelsea mourn for Cambel & Gwendolen!
Hackney and Holloway sicken for Estrild & Ignoge!
Because the Peak, Malvern & Cheviot Reason in Cruelty
Penmaenmawr & Dhinas-bran Demonstrate in Unbelief
Manchester & Liverpool are in tortures of Doubt & Despair
Malden & Colchester Demonstrate: I hear my Childrens voices
I see their piteous faces gleam out upon the cruel winds
From Lincoln & Norwich, from Edinburgh & Monmouth:
I see them distant from my bosom scoured along the roads
Then lost in clouds; I hear their tender voices! clouds divide

I see them die beneath the whips of the Captains! they are taken
In solemn pomp into Chaldea across the bredths of Europe
Six months they lie embalmd in Silent death: warshipped
Carried in Arks of Oak before the armies in the spring
Bursting their Arks they rise again to life: they play before
The Armies: I hear their loud cymbals & their deadly cries
Are the Dead cruel? are those who are infolded in moral Law
Revengeful? O that Death & Annihilation were the same!

Then Vala answerd spreading her scarlet Veil over Albion 
  This plate gives us Albion's statement, to be followed by Vala's answer. If you haven't read this blog before, I can tell you that Albion was Blake's term for England, or more generally Everyman (including of course you and me). Vala is Blake's name for the earthly, material (and materialistic) woman, or more properly the earthly Albion's wife (emanation!), the 'contrary' of Jerusalem, the Eternal wife or emanation of Albion.
With 'You O lovely forms' Blake means especially Vala. (It's as if a man is denouncing his wife and his mistress, but his denunciations are directed primarily at the mistress.)

 "Every boil upon my body": this sounds very much like The Book of Job. (The picture above is one of the plates of Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job.)

What follows (the cattle, the cornfield, the sun, the moon, etc.) is a remarkable record of the earlier catastrophe when Albion fell asleep in Beulah (and slept too long!); Blake called it the Fall, and it points toward the same thing ahead for us all (the Rise, or Recovery). 

"Gwendolen and Ragan" consult the concordance.

"Jerusalem! dissembler Jerusalem!": here he changes his reproaches to Jerusalem (bride of Christ, but fallen; do you know any fallen brides of Christ?)

Much more interpretation is needed.  You could research it, just like I could.

Thanks for reading this!

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