Wednesday, November 20, 2013


British Museum For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise
Plate 5

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Plate 5, (E 262) 
"5 Fire That end in endless Strife"

For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise, Plate 19, (E 268)
"5 Blind in Fire with shield & spear
Two Horn'd Reasoning Cloven Fiction 
In Doubt which is Self contradiction
A dark Hermaphrodite We stood
Rational Truth Root of Evil & Good
Round me flew the Flaming Sword
Round her snowy Whirlwinds roard 
Freezing her Veil the Mundane Shell"


Completing his emblems for the four Elements, Blake gives us an image personifying Fire. The other three images are of men seated or kneeling; Fire stands upright in a menacing position. In his hands are a shield for defense and a spear for offense. His lower  body is covered with scales in a late version of Gates of Paradise. 

The caption, "That end in endless Strife", suggests conflict with the other elements as well as internal conflict. The first line of Blake's Key to this plate refers to the individual element, Fire, who is blind and provided with weapons. The lines that follow summarize truths found in the first six plates. The status of dividedness with its consequences of "Doubt", "Self contradiction", darkness, and rationalization are brought together in one paragraph. The masculine/feminine division is emphasized by calling the Hermaphrodite: "We". The "me" near the end is associated with with the flaming sword; while the snowy Whirlwind is "her" symbol.

In the final line the "Mundane Shell", the egg-like enclosure of the world we know and live in, is recognized as the Veil that the feminine division makes possible to conceal Eternity. The "Root of Evil and Good" reflects back to the Key to Plate 3 and the choice which led to dualistic thought. 

From  the ancient usage of Fire as an Element of change, Blake adopted Fire as the representation of Luvah, the Zoa of the emotions or passions. Because of the battles which arise from the initial fall in which Luvah conspired with Urizen to displace Urthona, we see little of the gentler, loving side of Luvah. But along with his pugnacious side is his role as Prince of Love.  

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 22, (E 311)
"Luvah replied Dictate to thy Equals. am not I
The Prince of all the hosts of Men
nor Equal know in Heaven
If I arise into the Zenith leaving thee to watch
The Emanation & her Sons the Satan & the Anak
Sihon and Og. wilt thou not rebel to my laws remain
In darkness building thy strong throne & in my ancient night
Daring my power wilt arm my sons against me in the Atlantic
My deep My night which thou assuming hast assumed my Crown
I will remain as well as thou & here with hands of blood
Smite this dark sleeper in his tent then try my strength with thee

While thus he spoke his fires reddend oer the holy tent
Urizen cast deep darkness round him silent brooding death
Eternal death to Luvah. raging Luvah pourd
The Lances of Urizen from chariots. round the holy tent
Discord began & yells & cries shook the wide firmament"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 126, (E 395) 
"Luvah & Vala descended & enterd the Gates of Dark Urthona
And walkd from the hands of Urizen in the shadows of Valas Garden
Where the impressions of Despair & Hope for ever vegetate        
In flowers in fruits in fishes birds & beasts & clouds & waters
The land of doubts & shadows sweet delusions unformd hopes
They saw no more the terrible confusion of the wracking universe
They heard not saw not felt not all the terrible confusion
For in their orbed senses within closd up they wanderd at will   
And those upon the Couches viewd them in the dreams of Beulah
As they reposd from the terrible wide universal harvest
Invisible Luvah in bright clouds hoverd over Valas head
And thus their ancient golden age renewd for Luvah spoke
With voice mild from his golden Cloud upon the breath of morning 

Come forth O Vala from the grass & from the silent Dew
Rise from the dews of death for the Eternal Man is Risen

She rises among flowers & looks toward the Eastern clearness
She walks yea runs her feet are wingd on the tops of the bending grass
Her garments rejoice in the vocal wind & her hair glistens with dew    

She answerd thus Whose voice is this in the voice of the nourishing air
In the spirit of the morning awaking the Soul from its grassy bed"
Acts 2
[1] When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
[2] And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
[3] And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.
[4] And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.


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