Saturday, April 06, 2013

Another Furnace

The Furnace is one of the most prominent symbols that Blake used to build his myth.
Percival's Circle of Destiny provides a good definition of 'furnace' on page 222:
"The furnaces together constitute the cycle of experience through which man
passes in the interim between Eternity and Eternity."

Begin with the latest post on Furnaces, called Looms and Furnaces, and particularly this poem:

"Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 55, (E 33)

[An early Song of Experience included in one late copy]
"Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy a Human Face
Terror, the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy, the Human Dress

The Human Dress, is forged Iron
The Human Form, a fiery Forge.
The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge."

"the furnaces and looms likewise were used by Blake to symbolize the loss of human values as mechanization replaced manual skills. Blake saw that the souls who were the inhabitants of Britain were thrown into the furnaces and woven in the looms 'among the dark Satanic wheels."            

In Northrup Frye's Words with Power a long chapter is called 'The

Furnace'.  In an earlier chapter he spoke of an interesting analogy
between Egypt and 'frustrated desire' (page 244):
The first chapter of Exodus include these words:

" [8] Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not
[9] And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children
of Israel are more and mightier than we:

[10] Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and
it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also
unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of
the land.
[11] Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them
with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities,
Pithom and Raamses.
[12] But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied
and grew. And they were
grieved because of the children of Israel.

[13] And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
[14] And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick,
and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them
serve, was with rigour.

From this, as Frye said, "Egypt became for Israel a furnace of iron,
from which they finally escaped with the exodus.

There are many furnaces:
In a state of Innocence a child may see the world 'made for itself; adolescence reveals that not to be true.  Frustrations mount; among other things as the young person's sexual life grows, in intensity and insistence, it becomes a 'furnace of frustration'.

The furnace of Shadrack and his friends illustrates this reality; that story 
(with the fourth man) points out the only adequate cure.
"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flames will not hurt thee I only design

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