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

Sunday, May 18, 2014


What better image could Blake find for the influence of the female on the male than the cradle. Coffin and cradle are equally boxes that confine and limit the man who is under the influence of the Daughters of Albion. 

Damon, in the Blake Dictionary (Page 14), tells us that Blake selected twelve female names from history and literature as the Daughters of Albion. They are to Damon "a bad lot: queens, leaders of armies, adulteresses and mistresses, jealous wives, faithless daughters, bastard children." These are the types of women who control the lives of the developing human in a totally worldly existence. Under such circumstances what are man's choices: to submit to the cruelties of women who total focus is the material world of 'dog eat dog,' to retreat from the possibility of developing psychologically by refusing to assimilate experiences as they come, or to face his situation and begin to emerge into a fourfold life where heart and soul and mind and strength open to eternity.

Luke 10
[25] And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
[26] He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?"
[27] And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
[28] And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live."

Blake says, "This World is all a Cradle for the erred wandering Phantom." The human being enters this world which is to be his home, as imperfect, without direction and insubstantial. He is at the beginning of his development but under the care of hostile forces. The garment of a body will be provided. The question is whether he can recognize that the eagle attends him also. Can he like Jesus fall beneath the plow and yet behold the Divine Vision?

Jerusalem, Plate 56, (E 206)
"Then Los heaved his thund'ring Bellows on the Valley of Middlesex
And thus he chaunted his Song: the Daughters of Albion reply.

What may Man be? who can tell! But what may Woman be?
To have power over Man from Cradle to corruptible Grave.
He who is an Infant, and whose Cradle is a Manger                
Knoweth the Infant sorrow: whence it came, and where it goeth:
And who weave it a Cradle of the grass that withereth away.
This World is all a Cradle for the erred wandering Phantom:
Rock'd by Year, Month, Day & Hour; and every two Moments
Between, dwells a Daughter of Beulah, to feed the Human Vegetable
Entune: Daughters of Albion. your hymning Chorus mildly!
Cord of affection thrilling extatic on the iron Reel:
To the golden Loom of Love! to the moth-labourd Woof
A Garment and Cradle weaving for the infantine Terror:
For fear; at entering the gate into our World of cruel           
Lamentation: it flee back & hide in Non-Entitys dark wild
Where dwells the Spectre of Albion: destroyer of Definite Form.
The Sun shall be a Scythed Chariot of Britain: the Moon; a Ship
In the British Ocean! Created by Los's Hammer; measured out
Into Days & Nights & Years & Months. to travel with my feet      
Over these desolate rocks of Albion: O daughters of despair!
Rock the Cradle, and in mild melodies tell me where found
What you have enwoven with so much tears & care? so much
Tender artifice: to laugh: to weep: to learn: to know;
Remember! recollect what dark befel in wintry days               

O it was lost for ever! and we found it not: it came
And wept at our wintry Door: Look! look! behold! Gwendolen
Is become a Clod of Clay! Merlin is a Worm of the Valley!

Then Los uttered with Hammer & Anvil: Chaunt! revoice!
I mind not your laugh: and your frown I not fear! and            
You must my dictate obey from your gold-beam'd Looms; trill
Gentle to Albions Watchman, on Albions mountains; reeccho
And rock the Cradle while! Ah me! Of that Eternal Man
And of the cradled Infancy in his bowels of compassion:
Who fell beneath his instruments of husbandry & became           
Subservient to the clods of the furrow! the cattle and even     
The emmet and earth-Worm are his superiors & his lords.  

Then the response came warbling from trilling Looms in Albion

We Women tremble at the light therefore: hiding fearful
The Divine Vision with Curtain & Veil & fleshly Tabernacle       

Los utter'd: swift as the rattling thunder upon the mountains[:]
Look back into the Church Paul! Look! Three Women around
The Cross! O Albion why didst thou a Female Will Create?" 
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.

British Museum
The Eagle
Ballad the Second in Hayley's "Designs to a Series of Ballads" (Chichester, 1802)

Blake used the occasion of illustrating one of Hayley's poems to engrave this picture of a child in his cradle. Beside the cradle are the wheel and the spindle, the instruments of weaving which will provide a body for the phantom. Above the cradle flies the eagle.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 9, (E 37)
"When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius. lift up thy head!" 
All Religions Are One, (E 1)
  "PRINCIPLE 1st  That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that
the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic
Genius.  Likewise that the forms of all things are derived from
their Genius. which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit
& Demon." 

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