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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Library of Congress Milton
Plate 16, Copy D

The song of the Bard in the Eternal court continued for thirteen plates in Blake's prophetic poem Milton. In Biblical terms it may be considered a long parable. Although it was presented to the Eternals as a body, it was addressed to Milton. It was an invitation to Milton to return to the level of existence which to ordinary humans is life in the real world. The dilemmas expressed in the Bard's Songs concerning the three classes of men, the emanations, and the role of the prophet, move Milton to choose to 'go to Eternal Death' to further explore the ways of God as they impact humanity.

Blake's Poetry and Designs, edited by Mary Lynn Johnson and John E Grant, Page 245 (note)
"The afterlife Milton experiences in the Heavens of Albion is inauthentic because it is achieved only by the outer shell of his personality. His essential self, as well as the works he has created and the women he has loved, are left in an unresolved state of conflict in the world of time and space. Instead of waiting for his dead body to be resurrected, Milton is now imbued with the living Spirit and casts off his former self in preparation for reentering the 'death' (cf. Paradise Lost I, 3) of the fallen world. By undergoing death as 'self-annihilation,' he will actually achieve new life, though it seems to him that he will be totally destroyed. This passage is illustrated on plate 16."
Milton, Plate 13 [14], (E 107)
"The Bard ceas'd. All consider'd and a loud resounding murmur     
Continu'd round the Halls; and much they question'd the immortal
Loud voicd Bard. and many condemn'd the high tone'd Song
Saying Pity and Love are too venerable for the imputation
Of Guilt. Others said. It it is true! if the acts have been perform'd
Let the Bard himself witness. Where hadst thou this terrible Song
The Bard replied. I am Inspired! I know it is Truth! for I Sing
Plate 14 [15]
According to the inspiration of the Poetic Genius
Who is the eternal all-protecting Divine Humanity
To whom be Glory & Power & Dominion Evermore Amen

Then there was great murmuring in the Heavens of Albion
Concerning Generation & the Vegetative power & concerning        
The Lamb the Saviour: Albion trembled to Italy Greece & Egypt
To Tartary & Hindostan & China & to Great America
Shaking the roots & fast foundations of the Earth in doubtfulness
The loud voic'd Bard terrify'd took refuge in Miltons bosom

Then Milton rose up from the heavens of Albion ardorous!         
The whole Assembly wept prophetic, seeing in Miltons face
And in his lineaments divine the shades of Death & Ulro
He took off the robe of the promise, & ungirded himself from the oath of God

And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death! The Nations still
Follow after the detestable Gods of Priam; in pomp               
Of warlike selfhood, contradicting and blaspheming.
When will the Resurrection come; to deliver the sleeping body
From corruptibility: O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come?
Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave.       
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks!
I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death,
Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate
And I be siez'd & giv'n into the hands of my own Selfhood
The Lamb of God is seen thro' mists & shadows, hov'ring          
Over the sepulchers in clouds of Jehovah & winds of Elohim
A disk of blood, distant; & heav'ns & earth's roll dark between
What do I here before the Judgment? without my Emanation?
With the daughters of memory, & not with the daughters of inspiration[?]
I in my Selfhood am that Satan: I am that Evil One!              
He is my Spectre! in my obedience to loose him from my Hells
To claim the Hells, my Furnaces, I go to Eternal Death."

Blake's Poetry and Designs, edited by Mary Lynn Johnson and John E Grant, Page 257 (Note)
"Insofar as Milton's Satan represents Energy (Marriage of Heaven & Hell 4-5), he must be freed from the torment to which Milton had relegated him. Insofar as Milton, unable to recognize his own hypocrisy, has been imprisoned in his own selfhood, he has been like Satan in the Bard's Song. Milton is changing his conception of Satan; no longer is the principle of evil embodied in a rebel angel; instead, it lies in one's own self-deception and self righteousness." 
Larry has pointed out the parallel in the New Testament to this from Milton:
"He took off the robe of the promise, & ungirded himself from the oath of God
And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death!"

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:
[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
[7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
[8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

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