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

Monday, November 24, 2014


The University of Glasgow is fortunate to have Copy B (1794) of Europe in their library. In 2007 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Blake's birth they created an online exhibit of the book. We are given the opportunity to see Europe in a form in which the flow of development in text and pictures can be viewed together.

British Museum Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
There are two copies of Europe in the British Museum: Copies a (proofs) and D. Copy D which has inscriptions attributed to Blake's friend George Cumberland is the copy whose images were used in the recent series of posts on Europe.
The search in the British Museum collection for 'Europe Copy D' produced these results. Extraneous images are included. To locate some of the actual images of Copy D (1794) it is necessary to view the reverse side of some plates since Blake used both sides of the pages. Copy D is the only copy which includes the inscriptions relating Blake's work to that of other poets.

Not included in Copy D or the Glasgow Library copy is a prefix which was added to two late copies of Europe. In it Blake attributes the writing of Europe to the instigation of a fairy, a force which is active in this world but has no existence in Eternity. The fairy is one of the Four Elemental Forces which influence the natural world: the fairy - air; the gnome - earth; the nymph - water; and the genii - energy (fire).

Blake seems to be telling his audience that Europe is about:
"Element against Element, opposed in War Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife"
Europe is an account of the world as seen and created by the mental process which arose when Albion underwent separating into the Four Zoas. The undivided man came under the spacial (length, breadth and height) dimensions which are the province of Enitharmon.

Europe, PLATE iii, (E 60)
"Five windows light the cavern'd Man; thro' one he breathes the air;
Thro' one, hears music of the spheres; thro' one, the eternal vine
Flourishes, that he may recieve the grapes; thro' one can look.
And see small portions of the eternal world that ever groweth;
Thro' one, himself pass out what time he please, but he will not;
For stolen joys are sweet, & bread eaten in secret pleasant.

So sang a Fairy mocking as he sat on a streak'd Tulip,
Thinking none saw him: when he ceas'd I started from the trees!
And caught him in my hat as boys knock down a butterfly.
How know you this said I small Sir? where did you learn this song?  
Seeing himself in my possession thus he answered me:
My master, I am yours. command me, for I must obey.

Then tell me, what is the material world, and is it dead?
He laughing answer'd: I will write a book on leaves of flowers,
If you will feed me on love-thoughts, & give me now and then    
A cup of sparkling poetic fancies; so when I am tipsie,
I'll sing to you to this soft lute; and shew you all alive
The world, when every particle of dust breathes forth its joy.

I took him home in my warm bosom: as we went along
Wild flowers I gatherd; & he shew'd me each eternal flower:      
He laugh'd aloud to see them whimper because they were pluck'd.
They hover'd round me like a cloud of incense: when I came
Into my parlour and sat down, and took my pen to write:
My Fairy sat upon the table, and dictated EUROPE."

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130)
"And all the Living Creatures of the Four Elements, wail'd
With bitter wailing: these in the aggregate are named Satan
And Rahab: they know not of Regeneration, but only of Generation
The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements         
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife"  

Jerusalem, Plate 32 [36], (E 178)
"And the Four Zoa's who are the Four Eternal Senses of Man
Became Four Elements separating from the Limbs of Albion
These are their names in the Vegetative Generation
[West Weighing East & North dividing Generation South bounding]   
And Accident & Chance were found hidden in Length Bredth & Highth
And they divided into Four ravening deathlike Forms
Fairies & Genii & Nymphs & Gnomes of the Elements.
These are States Permanently Fixed by the Divine Power"

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