Friday, January 20, 2012

Plate 28

PLATE 28 [This is the beginning of Chapter 2 (To the Jews),
but the previous Plate directly addressed the Jews.]

                 Chap: 2.

Every ornament of perfection, and every labour of love,
In all the Garden of Eden, & in all the golden mountains
Was become an envied horror, and a remembrance of jealousy:
And every Act a Crime, and Albion the punisher & judge.

And Albion spoke from his secret seat and said                   

All these ornaments are crimes, they are made by the labours
Of loves: of unnatural consanguinities and friendships
Horrid to think of when enquired deeply into; and all
These hills & valleys are accursed witnesses of Sin
I therefore condense them into solid rocks, stedfast!         
A foundation and certainty and demonstrative truth:
That Man be separate from Man, & here I plant my seat.

Cold snows drifted around him: ice coverd his loins around
He sat by Tyburns brook, and underneath his heel, shot up!
A deadly Tree, he nam'd it Moral Virtue, and the Law             
Of God who dwells in Chaos hidden from the human sight.

The Tree spread over him its cold shadows, (Albion groand)
They bent down, they felt the earth and again enrooting
Shot into many a Tree! an endless labyrinth of woe!

From willing sacrifice of Self, to sacrifice of (miscall'd)
For Atonement: Albion began to erect twelve Altars,
Of rough unhewn rocks, before the Potters Furnace
He nam'd them Justice, and Truth. And Albions Sons
Must have become the first Victims, being the first 
But they fled to the mountains to seek ransom: building A 
Fortification against the Divine Humanity and Mercy,
In Shame & Jealousy to annihilate Jerusalem!
(Erdman 174)

Every ornament of perfection: The two paragraphs describe the  natural sequence of events in the world (or more properly in  Ulro when the Fall happened: this life is a Vale of Tears. The fallen Albion condemns everything good and beautiful to be Sin, condensed into hard rock and that 'Man be separate from Man'.   
  'Cold Snows': it's an Ice Age.
'Tyburns brook': As a boy Blake lived close to Tyburn, where frequent public hangings took place (often including small children). That was emphatically burned into his consciousness and may have led to his frequent mention of Druidic practices.  
'A deadly Tree': the Tree of Mystery, where Christ was crucified. (The Tree was mentioned in the Old Testament.) It was related to the Law of Moses, with all its 'thou shalt nots'. The Tree grew and turned into a banyan, 'an endless labyrinth of woe'.  

The Eternal mode is 'self-sacrifice', but after the Fall it  became sacrifice of (miscall'd) Enemies.  You and I may struggle with the last paragraph. 

The Picture: (Click on this picture, and it will enlarge
many fold. 
The two lovers in the lilly are lovely, but notice the snake that's coiled around them. The two lovers of course are Adam and Eve, The first paragraph of the text shows the lilly as the Garden of Eden. (Some people interpret the long rope as a veil.)

In later copies of this plate the lovers can be seen as
two females, namely Vala and Jerusalem; it's like The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Erdman (307) thought the background to be the Thames.

There appear four fish, the second one (where Albion 'plants his seat' thought to be a kind of shrimp.)


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