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

Saturday, November 8, 2014

EUROPE PLATE 12

British Museum
Europe 
Plate 12, Copy D
In losing sight of the infinite, mankind follows the serpent out of paradise into a world which is finite and temporal. The unbounded becomes circumscribed by limits. Although everything has been altered there is no memory of another state of being. Our challenge is to find an exit from the prison of our own minds which is represented by the serpent which encloses the infinite in the finite.

If the serpent is seen as the trap which operates internally, the Stone of Night may be seen as solidified external world which traps man in a natural world which he struggles futilely to control. In the Night of man's journey through time he encounters many stones: the stone tablets, the stone sealing Jesus's tomb, Albion's couch of death, the cornerstone which secures the foundation, the stone altar of sacrifice, and the stone of stumbling, among others.

As the Covering Cherub consolidates all the error which originates in the serpent, the Stone of Night consolidates the obstructions which result from the closing of the man's ability to use his organs of Spiritual Perception.

Annotations to Berkley, (E 664)
"The Natural Body is an Obstruction to the Soul or Spiritual Body"
Europe, Plate 10, (E 63) 
"In thoughts perturb'd, they rose from the bright ruins silent following     
The fiery King, who sought his ancient temple serpent-form'd
That stretches out its shady length along the Island white.
Round him roll'd his clouds of war; silent the Angel went,
Along the infinite shores of Thames to golden Verulam.           
There stand the venerable porches that high-towering rear
Their oak-surrounded pillars, form'd of massy stones, uncut
With tool; stones precious; such eternal in the heavens,
Of colours twelve, few known on earth, give light in the opake,
Plac'd in the order of the stars, when the five senses whelm'd   
In deluge o'er the earth-born man; then turn'd the fluxile eyes
Into two stationary orbs, concentrating all things.
The ever-varying spiral ascents to the heavens of heavens
Were bended downward; and the nostrils golden gates shut
Turn'd outward, barr'd and petrify'd against the infinite.       

Thought chang'd the infinite to a serpent; that which pitieth:   
To a devouring flame; and man fled from its face and hid
In forests of night; then all the eternal forests were divided
Into earths rolling in circles of space, that like an ocean rush'd
And overwhelmed all except this finite wall of flesh.            
Then was the serpent temple form'd, image of infinite
Shut up in finite revolutions, and man became an Angel;
Heaven a mighty circle turning; God a tyrant crown'd.

Now arriv'd the ancient Guardian at the southern porch,
That planted thick with trees of blackest leaf, & in a vale

Obscure, inclos'd the Stone of Night; oblique it stood, o'erhung
With purple flowers and berries red; image of that sweet south,
Once open to the heavens and elevated on the human neck,
Now overgrown with hair and coverd with a stony roof,
Downward 'tis sunk beneath th' attractive north, that round the feet        
A raging whirlpool draws the dizzy enquirer to his grave:"
Harold Bloom's Blake's Apocalypse enlightens us on implications of the fall of man as delineated on Plate 12 of Europe.  

"If man falls, then his four principal relationships fall with him. These relationships are to his world, to his body, to other men, and to his own past and future. The thought of fallen man alters his space and time even as it has confined his apprehensions and marred his sense of brotherhood with other men. Unfallen, according to Blake, we are our bodies, fallen we have them, and finally we are possessed and imprisoned by them. The world is human until we fall, but then becomes the hostile 'forest of the night' in which the Bard of Experience encountered his Tyger. The pre-reflective time of Eternity, like the pre-reflective space of Infinity, becomes the Druid Serpent of fallen nature. Reflection turns the Prolific, 'that which pitieth' in unfallen human brotherhood, into the devouring flame of Angelic charity, the pity dependent on making someone poorer and less happy than ourselves. The final result is the phenomenal perspective that leads to Deism; man in a 'finite wall of flesh' rolling on a little earth 'in circles of Space,' and doomed to be 'shut up in finite revolutions,' this last word being used ironically, for Blake already understands the cyclic nature of political revolutions. The final consequence is the culmination of error; we are left with Angels (in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell sense), with Heaven as a recurrent circle of destiny, and with God as Urizen." (Page 156)  

These passages from the Book of Urizen and from Milton further explain implications of the fall:

Book of Urizen, Plate 4, (E 92)
"6: The Immortal revolving; indignant
First in wrath threw his limbs, like the babe
New born into our world: wrath subsided
And contemplative thoughts first arose                          
Then aloft his head rear'd in the Abyss
And his downward-borne fall. chang'd oblique

7: Many ages of groans: till there grew
Branchy forms. organizing the Human
Into finite inflexible organs.                                   

8: Till in process from falling he bore
Sidelong on the purple air, wafting
The weak breeze in efforts oerwearied

9: Incessant the falling Mind labour'd
Organizing itself: till the Vacuum                               
Became element, pliant to rise,
Or to fall, or to swim, or to fly:
With ease searching the dire vacuity"

Milton, Plate 10 [11], (E 104)
"The nature of a Female Space is this: it shrinks the Organs
Of Life till they become Finite & Itself seems Infinite.

And Satan vibrated in the immensity of the Space! Limited
To those without but Infinite to those within: it fell down and
Became Canaan: closing Los from Eternity in Albions Cliffs     
A mighty Fiend against the Divine Humanity mustring to War"
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