Tuesday, October 15, 2019


British Museum
"The Eagle. Ballad the Second" 
in Hayley's "Designs to a Series of Ballads"
Final verses of Hayley's ballad, The Eagle:
"She lives unhurt—unhurt too lies
    The baby in her clasp;
  And her aerial tyrant dies
    Just strangled in her grasp.

  What triumph swelled in Donald's breast,
    And o'er his features spread.
  When he his living mother prest,
    And held the Eagle dead!

  Angels, who left your realms of bliss.
    And on this parent smil'd,
  Guard every mother brave as this,
    In rescuing her child!"

When Hayley wrote his series of poems for Blake to illustrate, he portrayed the eagle as a sinister bird bent on harming an infant. This was contrary to the symbolic meaning which Blake gave to the eagle. The magnificent bird who dwelt in the heights incorporated genius and imagination to Blake. When Eternal death took hold of Man, the Eagle along with the Lion and the horse participated in the degradation. Although his bright eyes decayed the Eagle continued his watch over the Eternal Man sleeping in the Earth.

Marriage of heaven and Hell, Plate 9, (E 37)
"Proverbs of Hell
When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius. lift up thy head!"

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 113, (E 384)
"O how the horrors of Eternal Death take hold on Man
His faint groans shake the caves & issue thro the desolate rocks

PAGE 113 [109] 
And the Strong Eagle now with num[m]ing cold blighted of feathers
Once like the pride of the sun now flagging in cold night
Hovers with blasted wings aloft watching with Eager Eye
Till Man shall leave a corruptible body he famishd hears him groan
And now he fixes his strong talons in the pointed rock 
And now he beats the heavy air with his enormous wings
Beside him lies the Lion dead & in his belly worms
Feast on his death till universal death devours all
And the pale horse seeks for the pool to lie him down & die
But finds the pools filled with serpents devouring one another
He droops his head & trembling stands & his bright eyes decay
These are the Visions of My Eyes the Visions of Ahania"

In this image Blake showed an eagle drawing near to the child without malice. The smiling child greeted the eagle as a friend while the mother expressed alarm. The child to Blake was open to imagination, while the woman was closed in her sense based cavern. 

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, PLATE 15, (E 39)
                            "A Memorable Fancy

   I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the method in which
knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
   In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clearing away the
rubbish from a caves mouth; within, a number of Dragons were
hollowing the  cave, 
   In the second chamber was a Viper folding round the rock & the 
cave, and others adorning it with gold silver and precious
   In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of air, 
he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite, around were
numbers  of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense
   In the fourth chamber were Lions of flaming fire raging around
&  melting the metals into living fluids.
   In the fifth chamber were Unnam'd forms, which cast the metals 
into the expanse.
   There they were reciev'd by Men who occupied the sixth
chamber,  and took the forms of books & were arranged in

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 2, (E 47) 
"I cry arise O Theotormon for the village dog
Barks at the breaking day. the nightingale has done lamenting.
The lark does rustle in the ripe corn, and the Eagle returns     
From nightly prey, and lifts his golden beak to the pure east;
Shaking the dust from his immortal pinions to awake
The sun that sleeps too long. Arise my Theotormon I am pure.
Because the night is gone that clos'd me in its deadly black."

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