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

Friday, November 8, 2013


Wikipedia Commons  
For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise
Blake published The Gates of Paradise twice: once For Children, once For The Sexes. The second version provides the same pictures with added statements.

On the Frontispiece is an image of a caterpillar on a leaf above another leaf upon which rests a chrysalis bearing the face of a sleeping infant. Blake has set the stage for two versions of the answer to the question, "What is Man!", which forms the caption for the picture. When he issued the plate for a second time he added: "The Suns Light when he unfolds it/Depends on the Organ that beholds it." Thus he reinforced the idea that there are alternate ways of understanding the nature of man.

The version of the poem, For The Sexes, adds Keys to the gates at the end of the 18 plates. The Key to the Frontispiece is, "The Catterpiller on the Leaf/ Reminds thee of thy Mothers Grief." Being born of woman is Natural birth, birth into the Natural world by the Natural man. The Gates of Paradise proposes to lead the reader through a rebirth which is available to the sleeping infant bound in the chrysalis if he emerges from the Natural to the Spiritual.

Thel, Plate 3, (E 5)
"Then if thou art the food of worms. O virgin of the skies,       
How great thy use. how great thy blessing; every thing that lives,
Lives not alone, nor for itself: fear not and I will call
The weak worm from its lowly bed, and thou shalt hear its voice.
Come forth worm of the silent valley, to thy pensive queen.

The helpless worm arose, and sat upon the Lillys leaf,           
And the bright Cloud saild on, to find his partner in the vale."

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 133, (E 401)
"And Many Eternal Men sat at the golden feast to see 
The female form now separate They shudderd at the horrible thing
Not born for the sport and amusement of Man but born to drink up all his powers
They wept to see their shadows they said to one another this is Sin
This is the Generative world they rememberd the Days of old

And One of the Eternals spoke All was silent at the feast 

Man is a Worm wearied with joy he seeks the caves of sleep
Among the Flowers of Beulah in his Selfish cold repose
Forsaking Brotherhood & Universal love in selfish clay
Folding the pure wings of his mind seeking the places dark"

Job 7
[17] What is man, that thou dost make so much of him,
and that thou dost set thy mind upon him,

Psalms 8
[4] what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?

John 19
[5] So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!" 


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