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

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Original in Whitworth Art Gallery
Milton's On the Morning of Christ's Nativity
Illustration 3, "The Old Dragon"
John Middleton Murry's biography and commentary is named simply William Blake. It is written less as a scholarly text than a personal encounter. In his chapter The Female Dream, Murry begins by saying that in Europe many of the same events occur as in America. In Europe he sees the 'subordination of the mundane events to spiritual happenings.' In seeing Europe as an outline of the 'inward revolution' the initial appearance of Jesus as the 'secret child' sets the theme for the poem. The eighteen hundred years of error represented by Enitharmon's dream will come to an end when the original message of Jesus, 'That Eternity is here and now,' is freed from the 'dominion of the Law, the dominion of Religion, the dominion of Sin, the dominion of Woman.' 

Murry, by identifying Jesus with Orc, opens the reader to an enhanced perception of each:   

"We have noticed that beyond and including all the dream happenings of the poem is the moment which is interrupted by the dream. This moment, though divided by eighteen hundred years of history, is continuous. It is the nativity of Christ, continued in the emergence of Orc in the vineyards of France. The clue, for reasons that will be obvious, is fairly well hidden; but once detected it is unmistakable. The prophecy opens:

"The deep of winter came;                                    
What time the secret child,
Descended thro' the orient gates of the eternal day:"

But it ends, two hundred lines after, with a strophe beginning thus: 

"But terrible Orc, when he beheld the morning in the east,
Shot from the heights of Enitharmon;            
And in the vineyards of red France appear'd the light of his fury."

The nativity of Christ and the emergence of Orc are thus the same event: one continuous and eternal moment interrupted by a dream. Los evokes Orc and his other sons at the beginning; Los is calling his sons to follow Orc at the end. Why, it may be asked, does Los summon Orc at the moment of the Nativity? The answer is that Orc and Jesus are one: the eternal rebel of The Marriage. Therefore, it is really Los who evokes Jesus also. Jesus is, in fact, the Poetic  Genius in rebellion; as Orc is and Blake is. But Blake, as the vehicle of the Imagination that understands the essential identity of Jesus and Orc, is by this fact beyond them both. And this is  Los in his supreme character as the 'vehicular form of strong Urthona'.   

The actual occasion of Enitharmon's dream is this emergence of Jesus-Orc. As he arises by the imaginative power of Los, Enitharmon descends into his place. The female sinks into rebellion. This is an act in the eternal Imagination of which Blake is the vehicle. Translated, it means that in the moment that Blake understands the unity of Orc and Jesus, he understands also that  the fatal doctrine that Woman's Love is Sin has been the cause  of the eighteen hundred years of error and illusion, and that this a corruption of the integral message of Jesus. When Jesus-Orc arises, Enitharmon rebels into a false doctrine of Sex and a false doctrine of Eternity."
(Page 106-7)


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