Friday, September 26, 2014

Blake Sex 8

Final Discussion of 'Blake's Sex'

The allegoric drama of good and evil in terms of the two females intensifies throughout the epic poem 'Jerusalem' until the final awakening of Albion, when sexes disappear. The first indication of this comes in the dialogue of Los and Enitharmon:Enitharmon answer'd in great terror in Lambeth's Vale:

From Jerusalem Plate 92
"The Poet's Song draws to its period, and Enitharmon is no more;
For if he be that Albion, I can never weave him in my Looms,
But when he touches the first fibrous thread, like filmy dew
My Looms will be no more and I annihilate vanish for ever.

Then thou wilt Create another Female according to thy Will."
Los answer"d swift as the shuttle of gold: "Sexes must vanish &
To be when Albion arises from his dread repose, 0 lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments, their Accusations of Sin,
Ail their Jealousies, Revenges, Murders, hidings of Cruelty in Deceit
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time,
In the shadows of Possibility, by Mutual Forgiveness for evermore,
And in the Vision and in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment....
(Erdman 252)

Soon comes the last mention of the woman of the world. She is connected with her sexual counterpart and described in the very specific terms which John used in Revelation 17.

If Bacon, Newton, Locke
Deny a Conscience in Man & the Communion of Saints & Angels,
Contemning the Divine Vision & Fruition, Worshiping the Deus
Of the Heathen, the God of This World, & the Goddess Nature,
Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Druid Dragon 61 hidden Harlot,
Is it not that Signal of the Morning which was told us in the
(Erdman 253-4)

Now Blake attempts to visualize the true place of sex in Eternity:

On Plate 97 of Jerusalem:
Awake, Awake, Jerusalem! 0 lovely Emanation of Albion,
Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time;
For lo! the Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day
Appears upon our Hills. Awake, Jerusalem and come away!
...Then Albion stretch'd his hand into Infinitude
And took his Bow....
And the bow is a Male and Female, and the Quiver of the Arrows of
And the Children of this Bow, a bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness
Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence, Wars of
And the Hand of Man grasps firm between the Male and Female Loves.
And he Clothed himself in Bow and Arrows, in awful state, Fourfold ....
(Erdman 256)

And after the final chorus of the multiple aspects of Man, Blake tells us that he 

"heard the Name of their Emanation: they are named Jerusalem." And so ends 'Jerusalem'. 

(Erdman 258)



After all this detail We can begin our summary of Blake's theory of sex with Jesus' reply to the Sadducee's mocking question about the woman married to seven husbands: "for when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels which are in heaven."

        Blake begins here, with the assumption that sexual division relates to this world, but not to Eternity. Sex appears in Beulah, a moony rest from the arduous creative activity of Eden. The "Female Will" condemns Man to the loss of Eternity, which Blake calls "the Sleep of Ulro".

Sex signifies fallenness, and the jealous and proudly chaste female symbolizes the active principle of evil, also identified with a materialistic viewpoint whose values are coercion and love of power.

       Blake's vision of Jesus humanized his theory of sex. He began to use the biblical image of Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, named his last and greatest epic 'Jerusalem', and ultimately was able to rationalize the heterodox doctrine of sex with the glorified female as the emanation of the Eternal Man. Blake's female thus joined all the rest of his personal images in traveling the Circle of Destiny, materializing in the Fall and etherealizing in the Return.

       Through all his journey Blake had a characteristically liberal and enlightened view of womankind, an entirely different matter from the sexual symbolism that filled his pages. His true and abiding feelings about the relation between men and women appear early in his works in his "Annotations to Lavater": "Let the men do their duty and the women will be such wonders; the female life lives from the light of the male: see a man's female dependants, you know the man." Admittedly short of the high standards of present day feminism, Blake's vision of womanhood considerably surpassed that of most of his contemporaries-- and perhaps most of ours.

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