Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dante 14

The Stygian Lake and the Sining Fighters

The Picture

Plate 16 of Blake's Illustration of Dante's Inferno

Inferno VII: 100-120:

This from page 40 of Klonsky book entitled 'Blake's Dante':
We crossed the circle to the other bank,
  Near to a fount that boils, and pours itself
  Along a gully that runs out of it.

The water was more sombre far than perse;
  And we, in company with the dusky waves,
  Made entrance downward by a path uncouth.

A marsh it makes, which has the name of Styx,
  This tristful brooklet, when it has descended
  Down to the foot of the malign gray shores.

And I, who stood intent upon beholding,
  Saw people mud-besprent in that lagoon,
  All of them naked and with angry look.

They smote each other not alone with hands,
  But with the head and with the breast and feet,
  Tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.

Said the good Master: "Son, thou now beholdest
  The souls of those whom anger overcame;
  And likewise I would have thee know for certain

Beneath the water people are who sigh
  And make this water bubble at the surface,
  As the eye tells thee wheresoe'er it turns.

And on page 140:
Blake arranged them in groups of three;
the two groups at the top have raised fists and aimed at the others;

The group at the bottom seem to be knocked out.

They're all under the water; the destructive nature of the Sea of Time
and space shows itself here.

We might surmise that the threes represent the three zoas who 
dominate Blake's system of thought.

The description of the plate appears here   in the blake archives.

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