Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Blake is fond of switching perspectives in his descriptions of his characters. In her Eternal state Enitharmon is space to Los' time but the time and space of Eternity are not the time and space we experience in the material world.

Four Zoas, Page 34, (E 322)
"For Los & Enitharmon walkd forth on the dewy Earth
Contracting or expanding their all flexible senses
At will to murmur in the flowers small as the honey bee
At will to stretch across the heavens & step from star to star
Or standing on the Earth erect, or on the stormy waves
Driving the storms before them or delighting in sunny beams
While round their heads the Elemental Gods kept harmony "

The fall of man brings about change in the "flexible senses" of Los and Enitharmon. As Kathleen Raine observes "Time and Space are now fixed and dead:"

Four Zoas, Page 57, (E 338)
"Terrific pale. Enitharmon stretchd on the dreary Earth
Felt her immortal limbs freeze stiffning pale inflexible
His feet shrink withring from the deep shrinking & withering
And Enitharmon shrunk up all their fibres withring beneath
As plants witherd by winter leaves & stems & roots decaying
Melt into thin air while the seed drivn by the furious wind
Rests on the distant Mountains top. So Los & Enitharmon
Shrunk into fixed space stood trembling on a Rocky cliff
Yet mighty bulk & majesty & beauty remaind but unexpansive
As far as highest Zenith from the lowest Nadir. so far shrunk
Los from the furnaces a Space immense & left the cold
Prince of Light bound in chains of intellect among the furnaces
But all the furnaces were out & the bellows had ceast to blow

He stood trembling & Enitharmon clung around his knees
Their senses unexpansive in one stedfast bulk remain
The night blew cold & Enitharmon shriekd on the dismal wind"

Blake has begun describing a process with the Eternal state. As it degenerates the imaginative state in which perception is not limited or fixed disappears. The loss of the infinite perception leads to further loss and failure which is associated with a continued breakdown of the ability to discern things as they are. A later stage of the breakdown of Enitharmon is described by Percival (William Blake's Circle of Destiny.)

"She is the spiritual garment of man in the Generative world, being in this respect the counterpart of Jerusalem in Eden. Now the spiritual clothing which Los desires in a troubled world is pity. But true pity, as we have seen in the discussion of Luvah and Vala, is imaginative and spontaneous, not selfish and rational. The attempt to achieve pity by false means ends in vengeance and strife, and in the character Enitharmon all too often appears." (Page 40)

"Enitharmon sinks with Los into the lethargy of the eighteen Christian centuries. During these centuries Christianity ceases to be a thing of the spirit, retaining only the Christian name. This is the "sleep" of Enitharmon - the triumph of the recalcitrant female emotions as they are personified in Vala-Rahab." (Page 41)

Europe, PLATE 9 (E 63)
"Enitharmon slept,
Eighteen hundred years: Man was a Dream!
The night of Nature and their harps unstrung:
She slept in middle of her nightly song,
Eighteen hundred years, a female dream!"

Meant to be the spiritual garment of man in the Generative world she relinquishes her role in sleep and allows man to lose the spiritual dimension to which Jesus had introduced the world.

Europe, Plate 4, Arise O Orc

, Plate 13, (E 65)
"Then Enitharmon woke, nor knew that she had slept
And eighteen hundred years were fled
As if they had not been
She calld her sons & daughters
To the sports of night,
Within her crystal house;
And thus her song proceeds.

Arise Ethinthus! tho' the earth-worm call;
Let him call in vain;
Till the night of holy shadows
And human solitude is past!"

Europe, Plate 15, (E 66)
"The Lions lash their wrathful tails!
The Tigers couch upon the prey & suck the ruddy tide:
And Enitharmon groans & cries in anguish and dismay.

Then Los arose his head he reard in snaky thunders clad:
And with a cry that shook all nature to the utmost pole,
Call'd all his sons to the strife of blood."

Blake has switched his perspective again and sees the awakening of Enitharmon in conjunction with the awakening of the revolutionary spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment