Tuesday, June 17, 2014


In 1810 Blake painted a series of four pictures for Thomas Butts. The first of the group was shown in the post Giving Names. While the first picture showed Adam naming the animals, the second is said to be Eve naming the birds. However there is no Biblical precedent for Eve naming the birds. Blake was using Eve and the birds to point us in the direction of separation of the female from the male which initiated the sexuality of Generation. 
Eve is the figure who transitions Eden to generation. Kathleen Raine, on page 41 of Blake and Antiquity, tells us that the birds with Eve are the 'lureing birds of love.'

We can see in Adam the undivided man whose straightforward gaze engages our own gaze, or he looks past us to the infinite, eternal world beyond. Eve's eyes are focused not on the viewer, or on heaven above, or on eternity, but on something in her own world which has attracted her attention. If in this set of pictures Blake used Adam as a symbol for Creation he used Eve as a symbol for the Fall. 

Book of Urizen, Plate 18, (E 78)
"9. All Eternity shudderd at sight
Of the first female now separate                       
Pale as a cloud of snow
Waving before the face of Los

10. Wonder, awe, fear, astonishment,
Petrify the eternal myriads;
At the first female form now separate                  

Plate 19
They call'd her Pity, and fled"

Jerusalem, Plate 86, (E 245)
"And Enitharmon like a faint rainbow waved before him         
Filling with Fibres from his loins which reddend with desire
Into a Globe of blood beneath his bosom trembling in darkness
Of Albions clouds. he fed it, with his tears & bitter groans
Hiding his Spectre in invisibility from the timorous Shade
Till it became a separated cloud of beauty grace & love       
Among the darkness of his Furnaces dividing asunder till
She separated stood before him a lovely Female weeping
Even Enitharmon separated outside, & his Loins closed
And heal'd after the separation: his pains he soon forgot:
Lured by her beauty outside of himself in shadowy grief.      
Two Wills they had; Two Intellects: & not as in times of old.

Silent they wanderd hand in hand like two Infants wandring
From Enion in the desarts, terrified at each others beauty
Envying each other yet desiring, in all devouring Love,"
The primary characteristic of the fall of man to Blake was not disobedience or sin but the loss of the awareness of Eternity with its attendant inability to perceive that one is known by God and knows God intuitively. Paul's book of Romans says something of the same when he speaks of man losing the power of seeing the 'invisible nature' of the created world, and worshiping the images rather than the creator. 

Romans 1
[19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
[20] Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
[21] for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
[22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
[23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
[24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
[25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

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