William Blake – Auguries of Innocence – 6


[Beggar with a Lyra (c. 1900) – Photograph by Nikolay Svishchev-Paola]


[Allen continues with his observations and annotations on William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence]

AG: “The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air/Does to Rags the Heavens tear”  – That’s an interesting one – “The Beggars Rags fluttering in (the) Air” (and you just see a leprous beggar, lying down on the ground, with the rags fluttering in air).. actually, there’s a very funny sort of space-shot there – that the rags would be “fluttering in Air” ) – “Does to rags the Heavens tear” – What does that mean?
Student:  That he’s disenchanted with Injustice maybe?

AG: Well, yeah, but how does it tear the heavens to rags? – Literal…what’s the literal..?

Student:  ….Oh, well, maybe from his perspective ..

AG: Right. I mean, obviously, or from anybody who sees through those rags into the air. Quite literally – he sees Heaven through rags – “Does to Rags the Heavens tear” – (or the Firmament itself, or the dome of Heaven, (which) has become split with excessive suffering).


 [Chinese warlord displays his large sword (dadao) and Mauser pistol (c.1920)]


“The Soldier arm’d with Sword & Gun/Palsied strikes the Summers Sun” – In other words, all that power, because only power, is like striking at, like, a greater luminousness, or greater power – the sun itself (so therefore is only “Palsied”).

“The poor Man’s Farthing is worth more/ Than all the Gold on Africs Shore” – “Africs shore” (just as a little side-note -“Afric” – it’s funny in Blake, Afric – “all the gold on Africs shore” – Herman Melville also used “Afric” as an adjective – “There is a cold black angel with a thick Afric lip”, describing the guns, the cannons, outside Vicksburg – There is a cold black angel with a thick Afric lip” – the mouth of the cannon


[Looking into the barrel of a Civil War cannon – Photograph by Stephen St John]

“One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands/ Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands”
“Or if protected from on high/ Does that whole Nation sell & buy” –  That’s a pretty strong one – “One Mite..” – you know, that’s a tiny bit, of money – “One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands” – (he wants to have it equal metricly, so he’s got L-A-B-R-E-R-S, “ Labrers hands “ not “Laborer’s hands”, that would throw the meter akilter) – “One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands/ Shall buy & sell the Miser’s Lands” – “Or if protected from on high does that whole nation sell & buy” – Now, how would you interpret that?  How can the unjust taxation, or strong-arm robbery, of a little tiny mite of money from a beggar, from a laborer, buy and sell the land?

Student:  (Once) the government..

AG: Yeah obviously the government is completely askew if it’s “wringing a mite from the laborer”, the actual laborer’s hands, and so, in that sense, can buy and sell the whole nation, ’cause, it’s  like “the dog’s bark at the gate predicts the ruin of the state” [“A dog starved at his Masters Gate/Predicts the ruin of the State”]

[Young and Old – “the gap or connection, gap with connection..”]

“He who mocks the Infant’s Faith/Shall be mockd in Age & Death” – and the beginning, remember, was  “see the world in a grain of sand”, so that corresponds. In other words, the introductory line – “see the world in a grain of sand” – and he’s showing the gap or connection, gap with connection .. between mighty magnificent huge, and almost tiny, just like For want of a nail the horse was lost, for want of a horse the battle was lost, forwant of a battle the war was lost”
“He who mocks the Infants Faith/ Shall be mockd in Age or Death” – So watch out for ageism or babe-ism! 
“He who shall teach the Child to Doubt/The rotting Grave shall neer get out”
“He who respects the Infants Faith/Triumps over Hell and Death”
“The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons/Are the fruits of the two Seasons”  – That’s sensible. Negative Capability”  –  (That is to say, two separated, completely separated conceptions simply natural and unnatural perceptions of differing brains).
“The Questioner who sits so sly/ Shall never know how to Reply” –  I keep seeing that every day, actually, at those lectures, the big lecture [by Chogyam Trungpa] – “The Questioner who sits so Sly/ Shall never know how to Reply” – because the very slyness itself  is a funny kind of aggressive falsity so, obviously, when presented with something open or empty, the falsity becomes dumb
“He who replies to words of Doubt /Doth put the Light of Knowledge out”
 “The Strongest Poison ever known/Came from Caesars Laurel Crown” – (That is the poison of power)
“Nought can Deform the Human Race/Like to the Armours  iron brace”

“When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow/To peaceful Arts shall Envy bow”  – That’s a classic thing that (Ezra) Pound repeated over and over – and Robert Duncan also – Duncan pointing out that in Coricancha in Cuzco in the Aztec empire, there was a garden full of flowers and trees made of gold, that gold was used for art, for artisanship and art rather than as a means of usury. And who else said that? – Pound had that one.Duncan had that one.  And Pound also, I think, has some passages in the Cantos pointing out the same thing, that gold originally is to be used for..or ideally, naturally would be used for beauty rather than for commerce.


“A Riddle or the Crickets Cry/Is to Doubt a fit Reply”

“The Emmets Inch and the Eagles Mile/Make Lame Philosophy to smile” –  now he’s talking about intellect and conceptuality here, and problems with conceptualization and over-rationalization – “A Riddle or the Crickets Cry” – that is Vajrayana, that’s Vajrayana aspects – “A Riddle or the Crickets Cry/ Is to Doubt a fit Reply” in that it cuts through conceptualization.  “The Emmets Inch and the Eagles Mile/Make Lame Philosophy to smile” –  “The Emmets Inch and the Eagles Mile/Make Lame Philosophy to…” –  that’s Einstein’s theory of relativity
“He who Doubts from what he sees/ Will neer Believe, do what you Please”
“If the Sun & Moon should doubt,/ They’d immediately Go out” ….

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard here starting at approximately twenty-four-and-a-half minutes in and continuing until approximately thirty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in]


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