Continuing from Plate 18:
[PL 19] My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill; I remain'd alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moon light hearing a harper who sung to the harp. & his theme was, The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind. But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my Angel, who surprised asked me, how I escaped? I answerd. All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics: for when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you yours? he laughd at my proposal: but I by force suddenly caught him in my arms, & flew westerly thro' the night, till we were elevated above the earths shadow: then I flung myself with him directly into the body of the sun, here I clothed myself in white, & taking in my hand Swedenborgs volumes sunk from the glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to saturn, here I staid to rest & then leap'd into the void, between saturn & the fixed stars. Here said I! is your lot, in this space, if space it may be calld, Soon we saw the stable and the church, & I took him to the altar and open'd the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses of brick, one we enterd; in it were a
The angel, you recall had driven the devilish Blake to a sorry position (See MHH 18); he climbed up to where he had been. At his departure Blake found himself in a pleasant position beside a river; a post could be written describing Blake's pleasure and river.
(For the River of Life see Golden String.)
The river strongly contrasts to the storm that the angel had invoked.
We might say the harper was singing 'good tidings of great joy' which we may find in Luke 2:10,
(Blake in fact found them some years later.)
The harp is a sacred instrument going back to the ancient days in Egypt
(Genesis 4:21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp , the instrument David used to accompany his Psalms.)
|Jubal and the Harp|
(In this drama the 'angel' is a symbol of established religion and the devil is the writer of MHH.)
He grabbed the angel and flew with him through the western gate (in this case eternity). They went out of the world so to speak and then flew right into the 'body of the sun'
The angel in MHH 18 had come to a black sun, while the devils sun is full of Light.
Blake took the heavy weight of Swedenborg's works which 'sunk him from that glorious clime'; he appears to mean that he had studied Swedenborg who espoused the dead theology that Blake had been able to 'kick'.
With this brilliant poetry Blake is autobiographical and theological: the worship of the 'word for word' Bible on the pulpit becomes a black hole.
This Plate ends with the seven houses, evocative of John's evaluation of the seven churches, to be particularized no doubt in MHH 19.