Thursday, October 25, 2012

Visions of the Daughters of Albion 5

(Here of course is a continuation of the text of the previous plate: Oothoon's lament.)

In happy copulation; if in evening mild, wearied with work;
Sit on a bank and draw the pleasures of this free born joy.

The moment of desire! the moment of desire! The virgin
That pines for man; shall awaken her womb to enormous joys
In the secret shadows of her chamber; the youth shut up from
The lustful joy, shall forget to generate, & create an amorous image
In the shadows of his curtains and in the folds of his silent pillow.
Are not these the places of religion? the rewards of continence!
The self enjoyings of self denial? Why dost thou seek religion?
Is it because acts are not lovely, that thou seekest solitude,
Where the horrible darkness is impressed with reflections of desire.

Father of Jealousy, be thou accursed from the earth!
Why hast thou taught my Theotormon this accursed thing?
Till beauty fades from off my shoulders darken'd and cast out,
A solitary shadow wailing on the margin of non-entity.

I cry, Love! Love! Love! happy happy Love! free as the mountain wind!
Can that be Love, that drinks another as a sponge drinks water?
That clouds with jealousy his nights, with weepings all the day:
To spin a web of age around him, grey and hoary! dark!
Till his eyes sicken at the fruit that hangs before his sight.
Such is self-love that envies all! a creeping skeleton
With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed.

But silken nets and traps of adamant will Oothoon spread,
And catch for the girls of mild silver, or of furious gold;
I'll lie beside thee on a bank & view their wanton play
In lovely copulation bliss on bliss with Theotormon;
Red as the rosy morning, lustful as the first born beam,
Oothoon shall view his dear delight, nor e'er with jealous cloud
Come in the heavens of generous love; nor selfish blightings bring.
Does the sun walk in glorious raiment, on the secret floor


I. The Picture here is less a propos; it would be more appropriate 
where the Daughters of Albion are mentioned--at the end of the poem.

Erdman's Illuminated tells us that five of the 'daughters' are 
pictured  here, which requires considerable imagination to envision; 
a more reasonable representation of the 'daughters' is seen on the last plate.

the youth shut up from The lustful joy and
Does the sun walk in glorious raiment, on the secret floor.
Blake has many meanings for sun, but here it's associated with freedom.

The virgin and the youth alike are frustrated by the prohibitions of the conventional world. 

Blake used this idea elsewhere:

"Ah, sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!"
(Songs of Experience [Erdman 25)

A lot of data about this poem is found in an essay by william J. 

"The flower which turns its head to follow the sun's course and is 
yet rooted to the earth is Blake's symbol for all men and women whose 
lives are dominated and spoiled by a longing which they can never 
hope to satisfy and who are held down to the earth despite their 
desire for release into some brighter, freer sphere."
(Found in C.M.Bowra's The Romantic Imagination) 

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