Friday, September 14, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his second illustratation to L'Allegro:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, (E 682)    

2        "To hear the Lark begin his flight
          From his Watch Tower in the Skies
          Till the dappled Dawn does rise"

 Blake states: 

 "The Lark is an Angel on the Wing Dull Night starts from his Watch Tower on a Cloud. The Dawn with her dappled Horses arises above the Earth The Earth beneath awakes at the Larks Voice"

Blake chose for his second illustration to L'Allegro to focus on a few lines which are apropos for describing his own perception of how messages are received from the Eternal world. He created a picture in which each object represents something other than what would be seen by the natural eye. He pictures the Lark as an Angel, the Night as a concerned old man watching in the cloudy sky, and the Dawn as a young woman arriving with her horses. He pictures the Earth as an eager young man gazing expectantly upward.

Mirth to Blake was an undifferentiated state with possibilities of going in multiple directions toward wantonness, or toward joy, or toward earthly satisfactions. On the contrary "To hear the Lark begin his flight" was a totally positive experience. It meant an invitation into a visionary world where ordinary things became carriers of messages of heaven. To hear the Lark is to become open to "an immense world of delight closed to [our] senses five." The common world is indeed dull and dark compared to that visited by Blake in his imagination.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5, (E 35)
"How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?"
Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 136)

"Just at the place to where the Lark mounts, is a Crystal Gate
It is the enterance of the First Heaven named Luther: for
The Lark is Los's Messenger thro the Twenty-seven Churches
That the Seven Eyes of God who walk even to Satans Seat
Thro all the Twenty-seven Heavens may not slumber nor sleep      

But the Larks Nest is at the Gate of Los, at the eastern
Gate of wide Golgonooza & the Lark is Los's Messenger

PLATE 36 [40]
When on the highest lift of his light pinions he arrives
At that bright Gate, another Lark meets him & back to back
They touch their pinions tip tip: and each descend
To their respective Earths & there all night consult with Angels
Of Providence & with the Eyes of God all night in slumbers       
Inspired: & at the dawn of day send out another Lark
Into another Heaven to carry news upon his wings
Thus are the Messengers dispatchd till they reach the Earth again
In the East Gate of Golgonooza, & the Twenty-eighth bright
Lark. met the Female Ololon descending into my Garden            
Thus it appears to Mortal eyes & those of the Ulro Heavens
But not thus to Immortals, the Lark is a mighty Angel."

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