Thursday, April 24, 2014


British Museum
Songs of Experience
Plate 30, Copy T 
 Songs of Experience, Plate 30, (E 18)

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, & Future sees
Whose ears have heard,
The Holy Word,
That walk'd among the ancient trees.

Calling the lapsed Soul
And weeping in the evening dew:
That might controll,
The starry pole;
And fallen fallen light renew! 

O Earth O Earth return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass, 
Turn away no more:
Why wilt thou turn away
The starry floor
The watry shore
Is giv'n thee till the break of day."

 British Museum
Songs of Experience
Plate 31, Copy T 
  Songs of Experience, Plate 30, (E 18)
"EARTH'S Answer.        

Earth rais'd up her head,
From the darkness dread & drear.
Her light fled:        
Stony dread!
And her locks cover'd with grey despair. 

Prison'd on watry shore
Starry jealousy does keep my tent
Cold and hoar
Weeping o'er
I hear the Father of the ancient men

Selfish father of men
Cruel jealous selfish fear 
Can delight
Chain'd in night                    
The virgins of youth and morning bear. 

Does spring hide its joy            
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower?                      
Sow by night?
Or the plowman in darkness plow? 

Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around
Selfish! vain!
Eternal bane!                       
That free Love with bondage bound." 

The Introduction to Songs of Experience and Earth's Answer are closely related poems. The Bard of the Introduction is asking Earth to return: to arise from her condition of being within the watery symbols of Tharmas: 'weeping', the 'evening dew', the 'dewy grass' and the 'watery shore'. But it is not only Tharmas controlling Earth; Urizen is present too in the 'starry pole', the 'fallen light', the 'slumberous mass', and the 'starry floor'.

Earth's reply to the predicament is offered in the following poem Earth's Answer. Blake indicates the bedrock of Earth's inability to respond to the Bard's appeal for Earth to return from the status of suffering as a 'lapsed soul'. Man's instinctual nature, his Tharmas, is unable to express itself freely. The fundamental source of man's psychic energy is stifled by the prohibitions on sexual expression. 
The role that jealousy plays in in this scenario is Urizen's attempt to adopt the position of God, the single controlling authority in the psyche. Desire, the impulse to live and procreate, originates with the body. Urizen is jealous of Tharmas' access to that source of energy. Blake sees that the release of the psychic energy controlled by the instincts, or Tharmas, will open the gate through which man may begin his return to Eden.

The irony of the situation is that the chaining of 'free love' does not release the soul from bondage but prevents her escape from watery materiality. In Songs of Experience Blake continues his exploration of the consequences of the dislocation of the Four Zoas. Day cannot break until Urthona provides imaginatiion, Tharmas provides the senses, Urizen provides reason and Luvah provides emotions.

Assistance in understanding this imagery is provided by S Foster Damon in A Blake Dictionary:

"The WEST is one of the four compass-points. It is assigned to Tharmas, who symbolizes the five senses; thus the west is the body, that 'portion of the Soul discerned by the five Senses.' It is the Circumference. The strongest of the senses is Touch, which is the sexual instinct (symbolized by Enion, Tharmas' Emanation). In the healthy man, sex is counterbalanced by love (Luvah, in the East). The western Element is Water, which symbolizes matter." (Page 444)

and: "The EARTH is the body, or the subconscious, from which all energy comes" ( Page 113)
 Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 4, (E 34) 
                 "The voice of the Devil
  All Bibles or sacred codes. have been the causes of the
following Errors.
  1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a
  2. That Energy. calld Evil. is alone from the Body. & that
Reason. calld Good. is alone from the Soul.
  3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his
  But the following Contraries to these are True
  1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
  2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
  3 Energy is Eternal Delight"

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