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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Blake's reputation as an advocate of free love comes, to a large extent, from his work Visions of the Daughters of Albion from 1793.

Oothoon was not shy, she was in love with Theotormon and had a sexual relationship with him. Perhaps they intended to be wed. Unfortunately Bromion forced her into a sexual encounter with him. Theotormon became enraged not only at Bromion, but at Oothoon as well.

Oothoon's defense is that love should be a free and joyous experience entered into for mutual pleasure. Love does not convey a right to possess or control the beloved. Jealousy and false modesty should not enter into a relationship of love. Taking away another's freedom and self respect are not characteristics of love. Love that restricts freedom and happiness is self-love. If a man who enjoys his pleasure with a woman, seeks to chain her through laws or morality, propriety and social convention, he is a hypocrite.  

Visions of Daughters of Albion
Plate 3, Copy G, 1795
Courtesy of Wikimedia
Original in Houghton Library
Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Plate 3, (E 46)
"The Argument

I loved Theotormon
And I was not ashamed
I trembled in my virgin fears
And I hid in Leutha's vale!

I plucked Leutha's flower,                          
And I rose up from the vale;
But the terrible thunders tore
My virgin mantle in twain." 
Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Plate 6, (E 49)
"And does my Theotormon seek this hypocrite modesty!
This knowing, artful, secret, fearful, cautious, trembling hypocrite.

Then is Oothoon a whore indeed! and all the virgin joys
Of life are harlots: and Theotormon is a sick mans dream
And Oothoon is the crafty slave of selfish holiness.             

But Oothoon is not so, a virgin fill'd with virgin fancies
Open to joy and to delight where ever beauty appears
If in the morning sun I find it: there my eyes are fix'd
Plate 7
In happy copulation; if in evening mild. wearied with work;
Sit on a bank and draw the pleasures of this free born joy.

The moment of desire! the moment of desire! The virgin
That pines for man; shall awaken her womb to enormous joys
In the secret shadows of her chamber; the youth shut up from     
The lustful joy. shall forget to generate. & create an amorous image
In the shadows of his curtains and in the folds of his silent pillow.
Are not these the places of religion? the rewards of continence?
The self enjoyings of self denial? Why dost thou seek religion?
Is it because acts are not lovely, that thou seekest solitude,   
Where the horrible darkness is impressed with reflections of desire.

Father of jealousy. be thou accursed from the earth!
Why hast thou taught my Theotormon this accursed thing?
Till beauty fades from off my shoulders darken'd and cast out,
A solitary shadow wailing on the margin of non-entity.           

I cry, Love! Love! Love! happy happy Love! free as the mountain wind!
Can that be Love, that drinks another as a sponge drinks water?
That clouds with jealousy his nights, with weepings all the day:
To spin a web of age around him. grey and hoary! dark!
Till his eyes sicken at the fruit that hangs before his sight.   
Such is self-love that envies all! a creeping skeleton
With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed."

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