Sunday, July 28, 2013


Marriage of Heaven & Hell,  Plate 5, (E 34)
"  Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough
to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place &
governs the unwilling.
  And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is
only the shadow of desire.
  The history of this is written in Paradise Lost. & the Governor
or Reason is call'd Messiah.
  And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the
heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan and his children are
call'd Sin & Death
  But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan.
  For this history has been adopted by both parties
  It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out. but the
Devils account is, that the Messiah fell. & formed a heaven
of what he stole from the Abyss"
In the above passage Blake struggled with understanding the most productive way of viewing the archetype which is called Satan. Harold Bloom in Blake's Apocalypse (Page 362) compares the formulations of Satan in the three books: Job, Paradise Regained and Milton. Three authors wrestle with the relationship of God and Man as it is impacted by the divisive, destructive entity known as Satan.

"Like the Book of Job and Paradise Regained, Blake's Milton is a study in self-awareness. Job and Milton's Son of God come to recognize themselves in their true relation to God. Blake's Milton recognizes himself as God or imaginative Man and proceeds to purge from himself everything opposed to that recognition. But where  the Book of Job and Paradise Regained identify sonship to God with obedience to Him, Blake's Milton urges us to 'seek not the heavenly father beyond the skies' but rather 'obey thou the Words of the Inspired Man.' Job and Milton's Son of God overcome their temptations, which in Job are deeply involved with inner conflicts. Blake's Milton is close to Job in that he  must rid himself of the conviction of his own righteousness before he can resolve the conflict within his own self. 

The clearest link between the Book of Job, Paradise Regained, and Milton is that the protagonist of each work must overcome Satan, or a condition brought on by Satan's activity. Here Milton occupies a kind of middle position with respect to  both the earlier works. Like Job, Blake's Milton must overcome his Satanic situation or inwardness, rather than Satan himself. But like the Son of God, Blake's Milton must resist overt Satanic temptation as well. Blake's Milton is both a suffering man, like Job, and a Son of God, very like Milton's Christ. 
Just as Paradise Regained afforded Milton the opportunity to explore the Jobean problem within himself, so Blake's Milton allowed the later poet to advance his personal solution to the problem of evil as it confronted him in his own life. The historical Milton indeed became a Rintrah in the wilderness, and a lonely prophet is and excellent prospect for Satan. Paradise Regained concludes with the Son of God  returning to his mother's house, to wait upon the will of God. So John Milton, at the end learned to wait, comforted by a paradise within himself, happier far than the outer one he had failed to bring about in his England. Blake's temptation, in the Bard's song, is an instructive contrast to this pattern of painfully acquired patience and prophetic hope. Under the 'mild' self-imposition of a subtler Satan than the ones who tried Job and Christ, Blake is tempted to forsake Prophecy altogether.   
What justifies the ways of God  to men in Milton is finally just and only this: that certain men have the courage to cast out what is not human in them, and so become Man, and to become Man is to have become God."

Milton, Plate 38 [43], (E 139)
"but Laws of Eternity
Are not such: know thou: I come to Self Annihilation
Such are the Laws of Eternity that each shall mutually     
Annihilate himself for others good, as I for thee[.]
Thy purpose & the purpose of thy Priests & of thy Churches
Is to impress on men the fear of death; to teach
Trembling & fear, terror, constriction; abject selfishness
Mine is to teach Men to despise death & to go on            
In fearless majesty annihilating Self, laughing to scorn
Thy Laws & terrors, shaking down thy Synagogues as webs
I come to discover before Heavn & Hell the Self righteousness
In all its Hypocritic turpitude, opening to every eye
These wonders of Satans holiness shewing to the Earth     
The Idol Virtues of the Natural Heart, & Satans Seat
Explore in all its Selfish Natural Virtue & put off
In Self annihilation all that is not of God alone:
To put off Self & all I have ever & ever Amen"

Milton, Plate 40 [46], (E 142)
"That the Children of Jerusalem may be saved from slavery
There is a Negation, & there is a Contrary
The Negation must be destroyd to redeem the Contraries
The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man
This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal           
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examination.
Plate 41 [48]
To bathe in the Waters of Life; to wash off the Not Human
I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration
To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour
To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration
To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albions covering          
To take off his filthy garments, & clothe him with Imagination
To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration"

Illustration of the Book of Job
Plate 18
Text on Plate 18
"Also the Lord accepted Job"
"And my Servant Job shall pray for you"
"And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his Friends"
Matthew 5
[44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
[45] That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
[46] For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
[47] And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
[48] Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

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