Monday, October 15, 2012

Visions of the Daughters of Albion I

                                  Visions of the Daughters of Albion

Here's a Blakean twist on the ubiquitous eternal triangle of all the love stories.

Oothoon  (Persephone?) loves Theotormon, but she's raped by Bromion.

       Here we see clearly the moral species. Blake used it to express his emphatic displeasure at the notion that a raped girl is 'damaged goods' and no longer worthy of the love of her erswhile lover. He considered that a high degree of immorality, another expression of the Jealousy that was for Blake the primary sin;  to perceive a woman as property was all too prevalent in Blake's day and still quite common in ours.


Plate i

Oothoon (Persephone?) loves Theotormon, but she's raped by Bromion, and Theo can’t deal with that.

The three are chained together at the mouth of Bromion's cave.
Bromion, the only one with his eyes open, has a terrified look on his face.

The tide is coming in, and Theotormon, in the highest spot covers his eyes. Meanwhile Oothoon is down in the water.  

The water represents the fall into materiality.

Plate ii, the Frontspiece

The Argument

                                                                                   Plate III

I loved Theotormon
And I was not ashamed
I trembled in my virgin fears
And I hid in Leutha's Vale!

I plucked Leutha's flower,
And I rose up from the vale;
But the terrible thunders tore
My virgin mantle in twain.

All Blake's pictures have multiple meanings:
"And I rose up from the vale"
That sounds like Thel; Blake appears to be saying that Bromin's rape resulted in sending the nymph, Oothoon, into mortal life.

But for Erdman's Prophet Against Empire  (page 226ff) Lutha's vale may point to 'suffering Africa' and the poem a prophecy against the Slave Trade.

               Plate I
This Plate shows the relationship between Visions of the Daughters of Albion and America, the poem that follows immediately.


Enslav'd, the Daughters of Albion weep; a trembling lamentation
Upon their mountains; in their valleys, sighs towards America.
For the soft soul of America, Oothoon wanderd in woe,
Along the vales of Leutha seeking flowers to comfort her;
And thus she spoke to the bright Marygold of Leutha's vale
Art thou a flower! art though a nymph! I see thee now a flower;
Now a nymph! I dare not pluck thee from thy dewy bed!

The Golden nymph replied; pluck thou my flower Oothoon the mild
Another flower shall spring. because the soul of sweet delight
Can never pass away, she ceas'd & closed her golden shrine.
Then Oothoon pluck'd the flower saying, I pluck thee from thy bed
Sweet flower. and put thee here to glow between my breasts
And thus I turn to where my whole soul seeks.

Over the waves she went in wing'd exulting swift delight;
And over Theotormon's reign, took her impetuous course.

Bromion rent her with his thunders. on his stormy bed
Lay the faint maid, and soon her woes apalld his thunders hoarse

Bromion spoke. behold this harlot here on Bromions bed.
And let the jealous dolphins sport around the lovely maid:
Thy soft American plains are mine, and mine thy north & south:
Stampt with my signet are the swarthy children of the sun;
They are obedient, they resist not, they obey the scourge:
Their daughters worship terrors and obey the violent:

Bromion's speech displays the typical attitude of conventional people in Blake's day as well as our own.
It also illustrates common racial attitudes--in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centures.

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