Sunday, April 28, 2013


Much has been written about the inferiority of the Woman in Blake's myth and poetry; it concerns the psychic makeup of Man. But this post approaches women is an entirely different way.  A woman is the subject of many of the illuminated poems and many others:

Thel, the Little Girl(s) Lost and Found,  Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Jerusalem!

Then there were the nymphs of The Sea if Time and Space; in Blake’s mythopoeic we all came down from Above as nymphs.

All these women directly concern Blake’s primary myth of life, death, and resurrections.

The Little Girl Lost                           

In futurity
I prophetic see,
That the earth from

(Grave the sentence deep)

Shall arise and seek
For her maker meek:
And the desart wild
Become a garden mild.

In the southern clime,
Where the summer's prime
Never fades away,
Lovely Lyca lay.

Seven summers old
Lovely Lyca told.
She had wandered long,
Hearing wild birds' song.

sleep , come to me,
Underneath this tree;
Do father, mother, weep?
Where can Lyca

'Lost in desert wild
Is your little child.
How can Lyca
If her mother weep?

'If her heart does ache,
Then let Lyca wake;
If my mother
Lyca shall not weep.

'Frowning, frowning night,
O'er this desert bright
Let thy moon arise,
While I close my eyes.'

Sleeping Lyca lay,
While the beasts of prey,
Come from caverns deep,
Viewed the maid asleep.

The kingly lion stood,
And the virgin viewed:
Then he gambolled round
O'er the hallowed ground.

Leopards, tigers, play
Round her as she lay;
While the lion old
Bowed his mane of gold,

And her bosom lick,
And upon her neck,
From his eyes of flame,
Ruby tears there came;

While the lioness
Loosed her slender dress,
And naked they conveyed
To caves the
sleeping maid.(Erdman 20)

(Read the whole poem.)

Our heroine, Lyca has left home and is lost - and sleepy.
(Sleep for Blake meant death, not death from the world, but death to the world.)

In the Arlington Tempera the nymphs come down from Above (much as Lyca did) into the Sea of Time and Space (they die to heaven and live in the world.) If they (we) are fortunate we make shore like they did, and return to the Heavenly Realm.

For Blake ‘sleep’ was dying to heaven, waking is going back, as the apostle said:


  1. [14] Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

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