William Blake – The Book of Thel – 2

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s “The Book of Thel” continues

AG: “O life of this our spring! why fades the lotus of the water?/ Why fade these children of the spring? born but to smile & fall./ Ah! Thel is like a watry bow. and like a parting cloud./ Like a reflection in a glass. like shadows in the water – (this like Sic Vita” (by Henry King) – remember? – like “..bubbles which on water stood” – it’s the same thing, (and, for those of you who are Buddhists, it’s the same thing you find in Gampopa .. about this world, about the Buddhist’s conception of the world as a rainbow, a bubble, a dewdrop, a morning-shower, or flower that fades, so forth, but he’s done a very beautiful version of that, of transitoriness, symbols, images of transitoriness. So, Thel is wondering whether to be born, because if she’s going to be born, she’s going to be like a rainbow that fades, she realizes. so she wonders what it’s all about?

“Thel is like a watery bow and like a parting cloud/ Like a reflection in a glass. like shadows in the water,/ Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an infants face,/ Like the doves voice, like transient day, like music in the air;/ Ah! gentle may I lay me down, and gentle rest my head,/ And gentle sleep the sleep of death. and gentle hear the voice/ Of him that walketh in the garden in the evening time./The Lilly of the valley breathing in the humble grass/ Answer’d the lovely maid and said” – (Now this is like humble Innocence, Virginity, the Lily, is answering her) – “I am a watry weed,/ And I am very small, and love to dwell in lowly vales;/ So weak, the gilded butterfly scarce perches on my head./ Yet I am visited from heaven and he that smiles on all. /Walks in the valley. and each morn over me spreads his hand/ Saying, rejoice thou humble grass, thou new-born lilly flower,/Thou gentle maid of silent valleys. and of modest brooks;/For thou shalt be clothed in light, and fed with morning manna:/ Till summers heat melts thee beside the fountains and the springs/To flourish in eternal vales: then why should Thel complain”

But ..er.. so this is .. “Why..” (she continues) – “Why should the mistress of the vales of Har, utter a sigh”(“The vales of Har”, it’s sort of like self-censored, self-centered primal Innocence, as in the Garden of Eden, unborn) -“She ceasd & smild in tears, then sat down in her silver shrine.” – (That’s really pretty for the Lily of the Valley – “She..smild in tears, then sat down in her silver shrine”. – the Lily’s silver shrine)

Thel answered. O thou little virgin of the peaceful valley./ Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, the o’ertired./ Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb, he smells thy milky garments,/He crops thy flowers. while thou sittest smiling in his face,/Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all contagious taints” – (that’s pretty – wiping his mouth, his “meekin mouthm from all contagious taints”)

Thy wine doth purify the golden honey, thy perfume,/Which thou dost scatter on every little blade of grass that springs,/Revives the milked cow, & tames the fire-breathing steed./But Thel is like a faint cloud kindled at the rising sun:/I vanish from my pearly throne, and who shall find my place?” “Queen of the vales,” the Lily answered, “ask the tender cloud,/And it shall tell thee why it glitters in the morning sky,/And why it scatters its bright beauty thro’ the humid air./Descend, O little cloud, & hover before the eyes of Thel.”

The Cloud descended, and the Lily bowd her modest head,/And went to mind her numerous charge among the verdant grass – (And the Cloud is considered by Blake experts to be the male personage (actually a cloud of sperm, youthful sperm). So Thel is going to ask the youthful Creative Principle, whats the point of living? what’s the point of getting born?)

“O little Cloud,” the virgin said, “I charge thee tell to me,/ Why thou complainest not when in one hour thou fade away”- (a cloud, like the sperm or a cloud, fades away in an hour) –

“Then we shall seek thee but not find; ah, Thel is like to Thee./I pass away, yet I complain, and no one hears my voice.”
The Cloud then shew’d his golden head & his bright form emerg’d,/ Hovering and glittering on the air before the face of Thel.” – (So, in a sense, she’s having a sort of erotic, a little erotic fantasy of some kind)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in and continuing until approximately sixty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.