Saturday, April 21, 2012

Plate 64

And Reuben fled with his head downwards among the Caverns
Of the Mundane Shell which froze on all sides round Canaan on
The vast Expanse: where the Daughters of Albion Weave the Web
Of Ages & Generations, folding & unfolding it, like a Veil of
And sometimes it touches the Earths summits, & sometimes spreads
Abroad into the Indefinite Spectre, who is the Rational Power.

Then All the Daughters of Albion became One before Los: even
And she put forth her hand upon the Looms in dreadful howlings
Till she vegetated into a hungry Stomach & a devouring Tongue.
Her Hand is a Court of Justice, her Feet: two Armies in Battle
Storms & Pestilence: in her Locks: & in her Loins Earthquake.
And Fire. & the Ruin of Cities & Nations & Families & Tongues

She cries: The Human is but a Worm, & thou O Male: Thou art
Thyself Female, a Male: a breeder of Seed: a Son & Husband: & Lo.
The Human Divine is Womans Shadow, a Vapor in the summers heat
Go assume Papal dignity thou Spectre, thou Male Harlot! Arthur
Divide into the Kings of Europe in times remote O Woman-born
And Woman-nourishd & Woman-educated & Woman-scorn'd!

Wherefore art thou living? said Los, & Man cannot live in thy
Plate 64
Art thou Vala the Wife of Albion O thou lovely Daughter of Luvah
All Quarrels arise from Reasoning. the secret Murder, and
The violent Man-slaughter. these are the Spectres double Cave
The Sexual Death living on accusation of Sin & judgment
To freeze Love & Innocence into the gold & silver of the Merchant
Without Forgiveness of Sin Love is Itself Eternal Death

Then the Spectre drew Vala into his bosom magnificent terrific
Glittering with precious stones & gold, with Garments of blood &
He wept in deadly wrath of the Spectre, in self-contradicting
Crimson with Wrath & green with jealousy dazling with Love
And jealousy immingled & the purple of the violet darkend deep
Over the Plow of Nations thundring in the hand of Albions Spectre

A dark Hermaphrodite they stood frowning upon Londons River
And the Distaff & Spindle in the hands of Vala with the Flax of
Human Miseries turnd fierce with the Lives of Men along the
As Reuben fled before the Daughters of Albion Taxing the Nations

Derby Peak yawnd a horrid Chasm at the Cries of Gwendolen, & at
The stamping feet of Ragan upon the flaming Treddles of her Loom
That drop with crimson gore with the Loves of Albion & Canaan
Opening along the Valley of Rephaim, weaving over the Caves of

To decide Two Worlds with a great decision: a World of Mercy, and
A World of justice:
(Erdman 215-16)

the Mundane Shell:
"The Mundane Shell, is a vast Concave Earth: an immense
Hardend shadow of all things upon our Vegetated Earth
Enlarg'd into dimension & deform'd into indefinite space,
In Twenty-seven Heavens and all their Hells; with Chaos
And Ancient Night; & Purgatory. It is a cavernous Earth          
Of labyrinthine intricacy, twenty-seven folds of opakeness
And finishes where the lark mounts;"
From Milton; (Erdman 110-11)

After the gory previous plate we’re introduced to Vala, the composite of all the Daughters of Albion: Gwendolen and all the others (previously called the Female Will). She expresses again the common contempt for males: “O Woman-born and Woman-nourished and Woman-educated and Woman-scorn’d!”

"Garments of blood & fire": the garment is your body/personality/character depending on where it's used.

Los now redefines Vala: ‘wife of Albion’ and  daughter of Luvah.
Blake uses these names inconsistently depending on his intuitive ideas at the moment. He might have said like Whitman: “you say I contradict myself; yes, I contradict myself”.  Poetry is not the place for consistency.

There are illustrations at top and at bottom of this plate:
At top is a butterfly shape with two figures, which we might envision at a large, despondent Vala and a small flying Jerusalem.

At bottom is a spectrous Urizen  with his fingers on his book.
(Interpretation largely from Erdman's Illuminated Blake; page 343)

Look also at this copy from Blake Archive.

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