Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Visions of the Daughters of Albion 4

Plate 6
And a palace of eternity in the jaws of the hungry grave
Over his porch these words are written. Take thy bliss O Man!
And sweet shall be thy taste & sweet thy infant joys renew!

Infancy, fearless, lustful, happy! nestling for delight
In laps of pleasure; Innocence! honest, open, seeking
The vigorous joys of morning light; open to virgin bliss.
Who taught thee modesty, subtil modesty! child of night & sleep
When thou awakest. wilt thou dissemble all thy secret joys
Or wert thou not awake when all this mystery was disclos'd!
Then com'st thou forth a modest virgin knowing to dissemble
With nets found under thy night pillow, to catch virgin joy,
And brand it with the name of whore: & sell it in the night,
In silence, ev'n without a whisper, and in seeming sleep,
Religious dream and holy vespers, light thy smoky fires:
Once were thy fires lighted by the eyes of honest morn
And does my Theotormon seek this hypocrite modesty!
This knowing, artful, secret. fearful, cautious, trembling hypocrite.
Then is Oothoon a whore indeed! and all the virgin joys
Of life are harlots: and Theotormon is a sick mans dream
And Oothoon is the crafty slave of selfish holiness.

But Oothoon is not so, a virgin fill'd with virgin fancies
Open to joy and to delight where ever beauty appears
If in the morning sun I find it; there my eyes are fix'd


This is a continuation of the questions that Oothoon put to
Urizen in her lament. The substance of her rhetorical question
was a recitation of the shameful creation that Urizen has
managed, especially concerning sexual excess.

And a palace of Eternity in the jaws of the hungry grave

This of course is a pseudo eternity.

And Blake goes on he exposes the "miserable practices of the

solitary girl and lad" (Damon 438).

It also relates to a married woman chained to a loveless husband.

Their relationship is supposedly love and marriage, but actually

nothing of that sort, most likely just a business arrangement.

And does my Theotormon seek this hypocrite modesty!
Oothoon continues her lament, and Blake points out the falsity
of placing such a priceless value on "virginity".

Modesty is not a virtue according to Blake, but a pretentious denial
of natural desire. (Damon; on page 283 gives a detailed interpretation
of most of this plate.  Look also at the text of Jerusalem Plate 83:
"Where hides my child? in Oxford hidest thou with Antamon?
In graceful hidings of error: in merciful deceit
Lest Hand the terrible destroy his Affection, thou hidest her:
In chaste appearances for sweet deceits of love & modesty
Immingled, interwoven, glistening to the sickening sight."
(Don't ask me to interpret this passage, but it shows clearly
what Blake thought of modesty.

Much later Blake used the "virgin" Mary, suggesting that Mary
was no such thing and her husband, Joseph (unlike Theotormon)
wasn't bothered about it. (See The Everlasting Gospel).

In the picture Theotormon rests on a cloud with a whip over his

head while Oothoon walks by with her head in her hands
(From Erdman page 134)

No comments: