Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Classes

First published Monday, February 22, 2010

New York Public Library 
Plate 8
Palamabron, Rintrah and Satan

From Milton, Plate 25, (E 121):
"The Elect is one Class: You 

Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life 
Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemed, 

Who live in doubts & fears, perpetually tormented by the Elect"

Blake in his characteristic way, uses familiar words in unfamiliar ways. He takes three words from religion: Elect, Redeemed and Reprobate, and redefines them to make us reconsider how God relates to man and how man's psyche functions.
The Elect whom we think of as the chosen who have won God's approval become those who "cannot Believe in Eternal Life Except by Miracle & a New Birth".

The Reprobate whom we think of as failures and outcasts become those "who never cease to Believe."

The Redeemed whom we think of as knowing that they have been forgiven for their sins become those "Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect."

From Ellie:
When I try to connect the Three Classes of Men with aspects of the psyche, this is what I see.The Elect wants to preserve the status quo. The Elect can be equated with the Ego which has charge of the personality, negotiating among the Id, the Superego and the reality principle. The Ego is the boss and decides how to express the personality. (The self-appointed Top Dog.)

The Reprobate are the outsiders, the aspects of the personality which are unrecognized or unacceptable.
The Reprobate is parallel to the Shadow in Jung which contains whatever the Ego has rejected and denies expression to. The Shadow contains undiscovered but valuable material.

The expanding or awakening consciousness which is the true human,
sometimes referred to as the Identity by Blake, or the Self by Jung, is the Redeemed. The Self connects the Ego, the Shadow and the collective unconscious. The Identity connects Albion, the wholeness of the individual with Eternal wholeness. The process of developing the Self or the Identity is a long struggle of gradually bringing to light hidden material and realigning internal and external relationships.

The psychological approach to studying Blake asks us to look within for
congruence between Blake's ideas and the dynamics of our psyches. Blake's myths and images can reveal to us aspects of ourselves; our self-understanding can enrich our reading of Blake.

From Larry: 
In Marriage of Heaven and Hell we met two classes: angels and devils. Blake ironically names free spirits as devils and good dutiful church goers (and other establishment types) as angels.

Los and his 'emanation', Enitharmon "bore an enormous race" (not only mankind, but every other created thing as well). But in particular Enitharmon's progeny consists of three classes:

From Milton Plate 7:
The first the Elect from the foundation of the World, symbolized here by Satan.
The second, the Redeem'd, symbolized by Palamabron.
The third, the Reprobate, symbolized by Rintrah.

The Bard's Song begins Blake's description of how these three classes of men relate.

To Rintrah (the just man) was assigned the plow.

To Palamabron, a kind and gentle boy (not a strong minded one), was assigned the harrow.

Satan (Selfhood) was assigned to the mills.

Rintrah and Palamabron are contraries; Satan is a negation.

In the Bard's Song those were the three assignments of Enitharmon's three sons.

A post could be written about the plow (See Damon 329); the plow of Rintrah might be the heated words of the prophet that denounces and breaks up the corrupt establishment. (It might be several other things as well.)

The harrow follows the plow; for Blake it was a metaphor for redemptive poetry.

The Mill symbolizes Reason - conservative: reducing the creative to the commonplace. But it may have been related in Blake's mind with the insidious mills brought about by the Industrial Revolution which impoverished so many people.

Los of course was the father of these three boys, a farmer-- the World being his field. He had expressly forbidden Satan from using the harrow. But Satan wheedled his amicable brother Palamabron into letting him use the harrow.

This led to disaster (the kind of disaster we have all lived under most of our lives).

All this was part of the tale told by the Bard at an Eternal gathering. The Bard's Song induced Milton to forsake heaven and return to the Earth to correct the errors of his mortal life. Milton's adventures in the World with Los and Blake is the subject of Blake's Milton.

There is much more to the Bard's Song, but this will give you a beginning. Learn the Bard's Song, and you will find it much easier to enjoy Milton, the first of Blake's two major works.

1 comment:

Susan J. said...

fascinating... I really like the idea of the reprobate as those who never cease believing...