Sunday, October 13, 2013

Europe Preludium 2 Plate 2

This plate is closely related to and more or less continuous with the previous one; both plates concern British politics of Blake's day, especially the King, the Parliament and the Military.

Commons Wikipedia
Plate 2
The Text
Unwilling I look up to heaven! unwilling count the stars!
Sitting in fathomless abyss of my immortal shrine.
I sieze their burning power
And bring forth howling terrors, all devouring fiery kings.

Devouring & devoured roaming on dark and desolate mountains      
In forests of eternal death, shrieking in hollow trees.
Ah mother Enitharmon!
Stamp not with solid form this vig'rous progeny of fires.

I bring forth from my teeming bosom myriads of flames.
And thou dost stamp them with a signet, then they roam abroad    
And leave me void as death:
Ah! I am drown'd in shady woe, and visionary joy.

And who shall bind the infinite with an eternal band?
To compass it with swaddling bands? and who shall cherish it
With milk and honey?                                             
I see it smile & I roll inward & my voice is past.

She ceast & rolld her shady clouds 
Into the secret place.

About the Text
In this plate the 'nameless shadowy female' continues what she was saying in the previous one.

In Plate 1 she speaks of 'consumed and consuming'; here she talks of 'Devouring & devoured';
From each star she brings forth a devouring fiery king.
All this might be called 'woman's trouble', responsible for kings and all the war they brought

In the Old Testament the children of Israel demanded a king, initiating dozens of wars thereafter.
(Read Ist Samuel 8.)

And thou dost stamp them with a signet
Blake is talking about being assigned to material life; the signet is
the garment, what we wear until the release of Death.
I bring forth from my teeming bosom myriads of flames.
And thou dost stamp them with a signet

To compass it with swaddling bands; look at Infant Sorrow:
"Infant Sorrow

"My mother groan'd! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt.
Helpless, naked, piping loud;
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
Struggling in my father's hands,
Striving against my swaddling bands;
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mother's breast."
                                 About the Images

The text is in the upper left hand side. On the right a figure with the left leg on the text and its right left trailing up into an open space. 

The text resumes for the last two lines below a cloud. The lower background is black. 
Three figures all have their legs spread out, the central one  appears to have possession of the other two, with right arm around one's neck and with his left hand choking the other person. 

You may think of these three as King, Parliament and War. War and violence seems to be in control of the other two. 

The fourth man (in the upper right) suggests Burke clutching his wig and escaping into the open air.

It's eerie the way Blake combines images with text; sometimes they seem to have  no correspondence; it's left to our imagination to figure out how they relate. Erdman was a master at doing that, especially beside the plates found in the Illuminated Blake. 

No comments: