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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


In the threefold world in which we live, there are three mental states which Blake calls the three Classes of Men. The state of Rintrah whose instrument is the plow, of Palamabron whose instrument is the harrow, and of Satan whose instrument is the mill. The three states are designed to move man through the passage of life to the great harvest in which everything which was dispersed is reassembled according to the great design. 

In their commentary in Milton: A Poem by William Blake, Kay Parkhurst Easson and Roger R. Easson write of the effort Blake made to correct the error Milton made in constructing his character Satan in Paradise lost:

"The first thematic division is the Bard's Song. The Bard shows Milton his error, recognition of which is the first step Milton must take on his journey. Since Milton's error is especially evident within the first division of Paradise Lost, where sin is created from Satan's revolt and subsequent fall from Heaven, the Bard revises Milton's narrative. He transforms sin into error. As the Bard tells it, Satan's error is a misunderstanding of his role in the divine plan. In the divine plan Satan is the agent of fragmentation and death; he is the miller of Eternity, and his mills regulate and make distinct the duration of human life, separating birth from death, youth from age, body from soul. He is therefore 'made subservient to the Great Harvest,' which is Blake's paradoxical metaphor for the continual cultivation of living form within the duration of human life. Satan, however, thinks he can improve on the plan; he thinks he can assume Palamabron's task, the wielding of the Harrow of the Almighty. The Harrow, 'a scheme of Human conduct invisible & incomprehensible' to mortals, also connotes death. This death is a death of the selfhood - part of the spiritual journey - not the death of the body - the result of vengeance as depicted in Paradise Lost. The Harrow represents death as mercy; death as the eternal prerequisite for spiritual growth. When Satan takes over the Harrow, he threatens to replace love and mercy with his false pity and 'officious brotherhood.' Satan, thereby, threatens the destruction of the harvest. He disrupts the eternal labors - the planting and plowing of the fields and the milling of the crops - those labors of mental cultivation which lead to the perception of the infinite in everything, and the corresponding creation of prophecy."  (Page 163)
Milton, Plate 25 [27], 122
 "The Elect is one Class: You
Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life
Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemd,       
Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect
These you shall bind in a twin-bundle for the Consummation--
But the Elect must be saved [from] fires of Eternal Death,
To be formed into the Churches of Beulah that they destroy not the Earth" 
British Museum
Plate 70, Copy A
 Milton, Plate 6, (E 100) 
"And the Three Classes of Men regulated by Los's hammer. 

Plate 7 
The first, The Elect from before the foundation of the World: 
The second, The Redeem'd. The Third, The Reprobate & form'd 
To destruction from the mothers womb: follow with me my plow! 
Of the first class was Satan: with incomparable mildness; 
His primitive tyrannical attempts on Los: with most endearing love 
He soft intreated Los to give to him Palamabrons station;"

 Milton, Plate 3, (E 97)     
"They Builded Great Golgonooza Times on Times Ages on Ages
First Orc was Born then the Shadowy Female: then All Los's Family
At last Enitharmon brought forth Satan Refusing Form, in vain
The Miller of Eternity made subservient to the Great Harvest
That he may go to his own Place Prince of the Starry Wheels
Plate 4                      
Beneath the Plow of Rintrah & the harrow of the Almighty
In the hands of Palamabron. Where the Starry Mills of Satan
Are built beneath the Earth & Waters of the Mundane Shell
Here the Three Classes of Men take their Sexual texture Woven
The Sexual is Threefold: the Human is Fourfold     

If you account it Wisdom when you are angry to be silent, and
Not to shew it: I do not account that Wisdom but Folly.
Every Mans Wisdom is peculiar to his own Individ[u]ality
O Satan my youngest born, art thou not Prince of the Starry Hosts
And of the Wheels of Heaven, to turn the Mills day & night?  
Art thou not Newtons Pantocrator weaving the Woof of Locke
To Mortals thy Mills seem every thing & the Harrow of Shaddai
A scheme of Human conduct invisible & incomprehensible
Get to thy Labours at the Mills & leave me to my wrath,"

No comments:

Post a Comment