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

Sunday, August 19, 2012

TRANSFORMATION V

Letters, (E 722)
[To Thomas Butts, 22 November 1802],
...
"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

  
In a letter to William Hayley of October 1804, Blake reports that he has suddenly been revisited by the ability to see as he had seen in his youth. Blake's familiar lines concerning fourfold vision clarify understanding about levels of vision which may operate in our minds. Actually achieving the ability to enter into the higher vision and allow it to be expressed through one's actions is more difficult. Apparently Blake came to realise his vision had become clouded by the conflicts within his mind and within his life. It was not until his eyes were opened at the Truchsessian Gallery that he knew what he had been missing in his perception and his execution.

Letters, (E756)
[To William Hayley]
[23 October 1804]
"O lovely Felpham, parent of Immortal
Friendship, to thee I am eternally indebted for my three years'
rest from perturbation and the strength I now enjoy.  Suddenly,
on the day after visiting the Truchsessian Gallery of pictures, I
was again enlightened with the light I enjoyed in my youth, and
which has for exactly twenty years been closed from me as by a
door and by window-shutters.  Consequently I can, with
confidence, promise you ocular demonstration of my altered state
on the plates I am now engraving after Romney, whose spiritual
aid has not a little conduced to my restoration to the light of
Art.  O the distress I have undergone, and my poor wife with me.
Incessantly labouring and incessantly spoiling what I had done
well.  Every one of my friends was astonished at my faults, and
could not assign a reason;
they knew my industry and abstinence from every pleasure for the
sake of study, and yet--and yet--and yet there wanted the proofs
of industry in my works.  I thank God with entire confidence that
it shall be so no longer--he is become my servant who domineered
over me, he is even as a brother who was my enemy.  Dear Sir,
excuse my enthusiasm or rather madness, for I am really drunk
with intellectual vision whenever I take a pencil or graver into
my hand, even as I used to be in my youth, and as I have not been
for twenty dark, but very profitable years.  I thank God that I
courageously pursued my course through darkness"
Blake's image sometimes referred to as Glad Day, sometimes as Albion Rose, represents a youth who is filled with the exuberance of allowing imagination to flow through him and to be expressed in his body, mind and spirit. When Blake engraved this image in approximately 1805 it was a copy of colored engravings from 1796 (included in the Large Book of Designs for Ozias Humphrey). But Blake dated his later engraving 'inv 1780', the year he had first made sketches of the rejoicing, spirit-filled youth. This was a signal that the image represented the return to clarity of vision he experienced before there was a closing 'as by a door and by window-shutters' of his ability to be enlightened with the light he enjoyed in his youth.

National Gallery of Art
The Dance of Albion (Glad Day), c. 1803/1810
Rosenwald Collection
http://www.britishmuseum.org/collectionimages/AN00015/AN00015440_001_l.jpg
British Museum
Large Book of Designs, 1796
Glad Day

Another indication that Blake associated this image with his emerging back into the light after a long period of obscured vision is the inscription on the engraving:
'Albion rose from where he labourd at the Mill with Slaves / Giving himself for the Nations he danc'd the dance of Eternal Death'. The contrast in this inscription is between laboring as a slave and giving oneself freely to the Nations in this paradoxical life/death of experience.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 134,(E 402)
"Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field
Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air
Let the inchaind soul shut up in darkness & in sighing           
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years
Rise & look out his chains are loose his dungeon doors are open
And let his wife & children return from the opressors scourge
They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream
Are these the Slaves that groand along the streets of Mystery    
Where are your bonds & task masters are these the prisoners

Where are your chains where are your tears why do you look around
If you are thirsty there is the river go bathe your parched limbs
The good of all the Land is before you for Mystery is no more

Then All the Slaves from every Earth in the wide Universe        
Sing a New Song drowning confusion in its happy notes
While the flail of Urizen sounded loud & the winnowing wind of Tharmas
So loud so clear in the wide heavens & the song that they sung was this
Composed by an African Black from the little Earth of Sotha

Aha Aha how came I here so soon in my sweet native land
How came I here Methinks I am as I was in my youth

PAGE 135 
When in my fathers house I sat & heard his chearing voice
Methinks I see his flocks & herds & feel my limbs renewd
And Lo my Brethren in their tents & their little ones around them

The song arose to the Golden feast the Eternal Man rejoicd"

Milton, Plate 40 [46], (E 141)
"Before Ololon Milton stood & percievd the Eternal Form
Of that mild Vision; wondrous were their acts by me unknown
Except remotely; and I heard Ololon say to Milton

I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread
And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years.   
I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas;
The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving
In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies"
Jerusalem, Plate 95, (E 254)
"Her voice pierc'd Albions clay cold ear. he moved upon the Rock
The Breath Divine went forth upon the morning hills, Albion mov'd
Upon the Rock, he opend his eyelids in pain; in pain he mov'd
His stony members, he saw England. Ah! shall the Dead live again

The Breath Divine went forth over the morning hills Albion rose 
In anger: the wrath of God breaking bright flaming on all sides around
His awful limbs: into the Heavens he walked clothed in flames
Loud thundring, with broad flashes of flaming lightning & pillars
Of fire, speaking the Words of Eternity in Human Forms, in direful
Revolutions of Action & Passion, thro the Four Elements on all sides  
Surrounding his awful Members."

Letters, (E 766)
To William Hayley Esqre, Felpham
Decembr 11. 1805
...
"I speak of Spiritual Things.  Not of
Natural. of Things known only to Myself & to Spirits Good &
Evil. but Not Known to Men on Earth.  It is the passage thro
these Three Years that has brought me into my Present State. & I
know that if I had not been with You I must have
Perish'd--"

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