Friday, November 09, 2018


Yale Center for British Art
Plate 9

Larry wrote this in his Journal in January 1985:

Four Zoas Night IX - reading a passage from Vala's interlude, I am charmed with the language. I realize that much of Blake's attraction to me is as an escape from the sordid world, a pleasant world like great music - with very little relationship to the rest of life. That passage, owing much to the myth of Cupid and Psyche and to the biblical Song of Solomon shows Blake as teller of tales, as bearer of the culture of the millennia. That is so foreign to our heedless, blind, 20th century consciousness. It is a form of transcendence, and an approach to the immortality for which Vala longs; a bright airy world of limitless dimensions.

Los is that prophet who walks walks up and down 6000 years allowing time and space for such moments to occur and to be made permanent in the Body and the Spirit."  

In November 2018 Ellie added:

When we read the Old Testament or Blake's Prophecies we find many disturbing passages. We may be inclined to close the book to avoid subjecting ourselves to the negative feelings engendered by reading of struggles among competing individuals or entities. Were it not for the hope of finding gems of truth and beauty embedded in the mire of confusion and dissension we may not read on.

One on Larry's favorite expressions was, "The Bible is all poetry, and poetry is the highest form of truth." Like the Bible, Blake's writing (even the prose) is poetry. It is not to be taken literally but metaphorically. It points to truth which is beyond expression. Blake's God availed himself of the opportunity to begin again repeatedly. We might follow that lead and begin again when reading gets rough.
Jerusalem, Plate 75, (E 230)
"For Los in Six Thousand Years walks up & down continually
That not one Moment of Time be lost & every revolution
Of Space he makes permanent in Bowlahoola & Cathedron."

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 128, (E 397) 
"So spoke the Sinless Soul & laid her head on the downy fleece 
Of a curld Ram who stretchd himself in sleep beside his mistress
And soft sleep fell upon her eyelids in the silent noon of day

Then Luvah passed by & saw the sinless Soul
And said   Let a pleasant house arise to be the dwelling place
Of this immortal Spirit growing in lower Paradise 

He spoke & pillars were builded & walls as white as ivory
The grass she slept upon was pavd with pavement as of pearl
Beneath her rose a downy bed & a cieling coverd all

Vala awoke. When in the pleasant gates of sleep I enterd
I saw my Luvah like a spirit stand in the bright air 
Round him stood spirits like me who reard me a bright house
And here I see thee house remain in my most pleasant world
Page 129 
My Luvah smild I kneeled down he laid his hand on my head
And when he laid his hand upon me from the gates of sleep I came
Into this bodily house to tend my flocks in my pleasant garden

So saying she arose & walked round her beautiful house
And then from her white door she lookd to see her bleating lambs 
But her flocks were gone up from beneath the trees into the hills

I see the hand that leadeth me doth also lead my flocks
She went up to her flocks & turned oft to see her shining house
She stopd to drink of the clear spring & eat the grapes & apples

She bore the fruits in her lap she gatherd flowers for her bosom
She called to her flocks saying follow me O my flocks

They followd her to the silent valley beneath the spreading trees
And on the rivers margin she ungirded her golden girdle
She stood in the river & viewd herself within the watry glass
And her bright hair was wet with the waters She rose up from the river
And as she rose her Eyes were opend to the world of waters"
Song of Solomon
Chapter 2
[8] The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
[9] My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
[10] My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
[11] For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
[12] The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
[13] The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
[14] O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
[15] Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
[16] My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
[17] Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

1 comment:

Susan J. said...

oh Ellie - I love this quote from Larry's journal, and your comments, especially about the Bible being all poetry, the highest form of truth...

Our Quaker Bible Study group is reading Amos, beloved of peaceniks for its social justice themes, but the first few chapters are all about the wrath of the Lord and punishment visited on nations so hard for our crowd to hear...

Much love to you always --