Friday, September 20, 2013

America 13

Rosenwald LC America 13
PLATE 12 So cried he, rending off his robe & throwing down his scepter. In sight of Albions Guardian, and all the thirteen Angels Rent off their robes to the hungry wind, & threw their golden scepters Down on the land of America. indignant they descended Headlong from out their heav'nly heights, descending swift as fires Over the land; naked & flaming are their lineaments seen In the deep gloom, by Washington & Paine & Warren they stood And the flame folded roaring fierce within the pitchy night Before the Demon red, who burnt towards America, In black smoke thunders and loud winds rejoicing in its terror Breaking in smoky wreaths from the wild deep, & gath'ring thick In flames as of a furnace on the land from North to South
(Erdman 55-6)

About the Text
So cried he: 'he' here seems to me to mean Boston's Angel.
Taking off their robes and throwing away their golden sceptors
mean the governors, etc. are renouncing their place as agents
of the King.
Descending from their heavenly heights means the fire of
resistence to the King's power in America.
Blake named Washington Paine and Warren; those were the ones
that he was apparently most familiar with.
The Demon red signified military hostilities.

About the Image
Erdman has this to say on page 150 about this plate:

The tree that overshadows the text is a birch.

Below the text is a tomb being entered by a bearded old man with a crutch under 
his left arm ; he is creeping forward into the tomb.

This is said to be Blake's emblem of Death's Door.

Look also at this image.

Widimedia Common
Gates of Paradise

Here is another similar image, in Gates of

"13 But when once I did descry 
The Immortal Man that cannot Die

14 Thro evening shades I haste away
To close the Labours of my Day

15 The Door of Death I open found
And the Worm Weaving in the Ground

16 Thou'rt my Mother from the Womb
Wife, Sister, Daughter to the Tomb
Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife

And weeping over the Web of Life" (Erdman 269)

It likely appears at other places as well.

We need to remember that for Blake going through Death's Door is not a trial but a joy.

Back to America:  the background is stormy and colorful, suggesting a sunset.

Beyond the clouds the distance shows mountains.

The old man is coming from a green grassy area. We're in " In England's green & pleasant Land"

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