The tree is a big part of the Biblical myth as well as the Blakean one. The
second chapter of Genesis begins the story:
|2:16||And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:|
|2:17||But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.|
This ominous warning obsessed much of the human race including William Blake.
In Plate 14 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell we read:
The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire at the end of six thousand years is true, as I have heard from Hell.
For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite and holy, whereas it now appears finite & corrupt.
This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.
Another post of some length might be used to attempt what 'blake meant by those words, but here we go on with the tree.
Here's another significant statement Blake made in Songs of Experience:
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole,
When the night had veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
(A Poison Tree; ; Erdman 27)
The Tree of Mystery occurs 11 times in The Four Zoas. It has been treated in several earlier posts:
In Monday, April 18, 2011
In Saturday, February 19, 2011
Blake's Good and Evil
In Monday, February 21, 2011
Tree of Mystery
Damon has some important information about the Tree of Mystery on pages 410 and 411.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Mystery together led to the tree upon which Jesus was crucified:
|Jerusalem Plate 76 from Rosenwald|