Gates of Paradise
Gates of Paradise
First posted May 2010.
"The Door of Death I open found
And the Worm Weaving in the Ground"
Why must this gloomy picture succeed the last one?
As Blake wrote in Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 145):
"Reader! [lover] of books! [lover] of heaven,
And of that God from whom [all books are given,]
Who in mysterious Sinais awful cave
To Man the wond'rous art of writing gave,
Again he speaks in thunder and in fire!
Thunder of Thought, & flames of fierce desire:
Even from the depths of Hell his voice I hear,
Within the unfathomd caverns of my Ear.
Therefore I print; nor vain my types shall be:
Heaven, Earth & Hell, henceforth shall live in
In Eternity the contraries unite. In Symbol and Image in William Blake, by George Wingfield Digby, he p. 49 suggests on page 49, that these two pictures (14 and 15), so different in aspect, are the two contraries married in Eternity. In 1st Peter 3:18-19 we're told that "Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God...by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison."
Jung spoke of the
Mysterium Coniunctionis ("mysterious conjunction"): the final alchemical synthesis (for Jung, of ego and unconscious, matter and spirit, male and female) that brings forth the Philosopher's Stone (the Self). Its highest aspect, as for alchemist Gerhard Dorn, was the unus mundus, a unification of the Stone with body, soul, and spirit" (the marriage if you will).
Digby shows us how Blake expressed this union of opposites in his poem, Milton: John Milton is in Heaven, but he has left "unresolved problems exemplified in three quarrelsome wives and daughters" (page 49), (his Selfhood was not entirely annihilated).
Milton, Plate 15, (E 108)
"He took off the robe of the promise and the girdle of
the oath of God,
and Milton said, I go to Eternal Death! The Nations still
Follow after the detestable Gods of Priam; in pomp
Of warlike selfhood, contradicting and blaspheming.
When will the Resurrection come; to deliver the sleeping body From corruptibility: O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come? Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave.
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks!
I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death,
Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate
And I be siez'd & giv'n into the hands of my own
Long, long ago Isaiah was written (or edited); looking at the book as a whole you may perceive something like these two pictures in Gates of Paradise. Isaiah is written with a rapid alternation between wrath (Judgment) and grace (The Promise).
So we find Isaiah, Blake, "Milton", Jung, alchemy: all agreeing in the Eternal union of the temporal opposites. Our Poet tried to express this fundamental truth of life("joy and woe are woven fine....the babe is more than swadling bands".
When you've met the immortal man, you're armed with light, like the man in picture 14, to deal with the cross we all bear. You've experienced the Marriage.