Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Golden String

First posted by Larry on Monday, November 16, 2009

Here are the famous lines again:
"I give you the end of a golden string
Only wind it into a ball.
It will let you in at Heaven's gate
Built in Jerusalem's wall."
(Beginning Chapter 4 of Jerusalem (Erdman 231)

You may find many interpretations of this provocative poem. Roger Easson on page 313 ff of Blake's Sublime Allegory provided the one that inspired this post.

Blake gave us the end of the string; Ariadne got a thread that enabled her friend Theseus to negotiate the labyrinth. Blake's string was already laid out (sort of). With it we are able to find our way out (of the maze of life) and in (to the Eternal). In the vernacular out of the insidious consumer culture materialism into a life guided by Spirit, through Heaven's gate.

Blake offers us escape -- and salvation. Escape from single vision, from Ulro, from confining our life to the same old thing. The salvation is freedom-- to be creative and know we're alive.

The Minotaur is your Selfhood. To get free of it is life.
Wikipedia Commons
Jerusalem
Plate 41, Copy A
detail
Easson pointed his reader to Plate 37 [41] of Jerusalem where at the bottom of the text we see poor old defeated Urizen with his head down and his book open with words you need a mirror to read, but they say:

"Each man is in his Spectre's power
Until the arrival of that hour
When his humanity awake,
And cast his Spectre into the Lake."

The Spectre is the Selfhood, and with his golden string Blake gave us the means to be free of it.

Easson, Page 314:
"In this case, though, to follow the mythic parallel to its conclusion, before the the reader can begin to wind up the ball, he must conquer his spiritual Minotaur, the selfhood. At this point, winding up the string may lead the reader 'in at heaven's gate,/Built in Jerusalems wall'; for then he will be traveling in the 'Spirit of Jesus' which if continual forgiveness of Sin.' If however the reader does not subdue the selfhood, then the essential task enjoined by the metaphor - the destruction of the Minotaur - is unfulfilled and the reader succumbs to the selfhood, leaving Jerusalem a literary puzzle without a solution."   

3 comments:

Susan J. said...

Wow - this so speaks to me this morning - I've been feeling down and full of self-pity, but also sensing some sort of nudge or leading toward some better state of mind/spirit/being....

At Bible Study a few days ago we were discussing the latter part of James chapter 1, and spent quite a bit of time on verse 27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

Larry wrote: "...out of the insidious consumer culture materialism into a life guided by Spirit, through Heaven's gate."

resonant, eh?

And, oh my goodness, "The Minotaur is your selfhood" indeed!!! At last maybe I can have some peace with the whole labyrinth phenomenon in present-day spiritual circles! :-)

Thank you so much for posting this, dear Ellie ---

ellie said...

Our son Paul took me on a hike this morning. Near the end I lagged behind taking pictures.
The path went off in two directions and I followed the one which seemed most likely. I tried to remember the entrance where the car was parked but had no recollection. Paul backtracked, met up with me and guided me through the part I had forgotten.

Isn't that a great metaphor for our having a golden string to heaven's gate but losing hold of it and going in the wrong direction. If we can remember our destination or have a trusted guide, we will find the gate. (car)

All Is Well,
ellie

Susan J. said...

what a beautiful story, and metaphor - thanks so much, Ellie!

a golden string, and a trusted guide, indeed!

much love, and a blessed Resurrection Day to you and yours --

Susan