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

Friday, July 20, 2012

DANTE'S SPHERES

Dante, Canto XXVII, Translated by A. S. Kline:
"So my Lady spoke, and said: ‘If you wish to be satisfied on this, take what I tell you, and wrap your mind around it.
      The earth-centred circles are wide or narrow, according to how much virtue spreads through their region. Greater excellence has power to work greater benefit: and greater benefit is conferred, by the largest sphere, if all parts of it are equally perfect. So the sphere, that sweeps with it all the rest of the universe, corresponds to the circle that loves and knows most. Therefore, if you take your measure from the virtue, not the appearance, of the substances which appear to you in these circles, you will see a marvellous correspondence between greater and more, smaller and less, between every Heaven and its angelic Intelligence.’"

I think that Blake would have agreed with the above statement by Dante's Lady. However the Correspondence that Blake saw in Dante's nine spheres led him to believe that Dante's God was the God of this World: the God who supported war, empire, vengeance and oppression.   

Another representation on a Urizenic God is on Plate 2, where a confused, disorganised cloven-footed God presides over sending Dante on his mission of exploring hell. Above the image on that plate Blake wrote: 'The Angry God of This World & his Throne in Purgatory'.

Blake's Plate 100 represents the idea that as the spheres grew closer to Dante's God they became progressively more rephensible. As Blake indicated on Plate 7, the center was occupied by a vacuum not a living God who interacted with his creation.

Martin Klonsky comments in Blake's Dante:
"In his illustration of the nine concentric circles of the celestial orders - Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels - whirling about the 'pure spark' of God, Blake reverted to the diagram he drew in Plate 7. Upon it he wrote 'Every thing in Dantes Comedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost .' Accordingly, at the bottom of the design he has depicted the world (or is it Purgatory?) as an island in the Sea of Time and Space. Above this 'Foundation', The celestial spheres appear as an 'image of infinite / shut up in finite revolutions' with 'Heaven a mighty circle turning, God a tyrant crown'd' (Europe 10: 21-23)." (Page 161)
Plate 100
The Deity, from whom Proceed the Nine Sphere

The Nine Spheres from Blake's Dante:
Reading bottom to top -

First - two Angels and moon
Second -
two male Archangels and Mercury
Third - two beauteous Principalities with Venus
Fourth - two matronly Powers with the sun
Fifth - two helmeted Virtues with Mars
Sixth - two statesmen as Dominions with Jupiter
Seventh - two weary Thrones and Saturn
Eighth - six young females in sphere of Cherubim or fixed stars

Ninth - labelled vacuum on Plate 7, in place of the Seraphim is Blake's representation of Urizen as a tired, feeble old man gesturing helplessly.




Continuing Klonsky's comment:
"The clouds drawn around the astronomical symbols henceforth become progressively thicker, indicating that the more elevated the spheres in Blake' inverse hierarchy, the more occluded they are spiritually."  

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
" Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God. 
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name   Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart. 
This was the Religion of the Pharisees who murderd Jesus.  Deism
is the same & ends in the same."      
Gates of Paradise, Keys to the Gates (E268)
"5    Blind in Fire with shield & spear 
     Two Horn'd Reasoning Cloven Fiction 
     In Doubt which is Self contradiction
     A dark Hermaphrodite We stood             
     Rational Truth Root of Evil & Good
     Round me flew the Flaming Sword
     Round her snowy Whirlwinds roard
     Freezing her Veil the Mundane Shell"
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