Allen Ginsberg on William Blake continues from here
AG: He woke. Plate XXI is the guy waking up. Or revolution waking up. Naked with genitals and one knee, as he is looking up into the heavens, one knee is on a skull.
And there’s a picture of the gloomy king, “glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay.” – (“Over the deep” -there – that would be (line) 18. “Over the deep” would be over the Atlantic to the American Revolution, or across the English Channel to the French Revolution – that’s line 18) – And you’ll have this image of the King on his hands and knees, totally defeated, with his crown on, with his golden crown. See the little spiky golden crown? Can anything be seen in the distance?
Student: Just the colors
AG: The only difference is the colors. That’s Plate XXIV
” 19. Where the son of fire in his eastern cloud, while the morning plumes her golden breast,/ 20. Spurning the clouds written with curses…” – (“Spurning the clouds written with curses” – that goes back to that image in The French Revolution, where they had imposed the law on the sun, and the keys on the moon. Imposed all of the symbols of authority on nature, remember? Here, “Spurning the clouds written with curses.” Clouds – the law, the old law..)
“… stamps the stony law…” – (The Ten Commandments) – “stamps the stony law… to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying Empire is no more!” – (And this is really, literally, what we might cry now with recognition of China and decline of the American century. Or for Russia, the revolt of Romania and the entire Communist world empire breaking up, and the American world empire breaking up simultaneously. So a process that began definitely in the Revolutionary times of Blake. And he raised up this big signal, “Empire is no more!”)
“….and now the lion & wolf shall cease..” – (The predators there.”(T)he stony law” is obviously the Ten Commandments that you went through before, remember? – It was saying that Christ broke every one of the Ten Commandments.)
(Now the) Chorus, and end – “Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn..” – (Those are the Royalist priests who were leaving France and invading London, actually, and founding societies – just like the gusanos from Cuba, or the South Vietnamese refugees – Marshall Ky or (General) Thieu founding restaurants and propaganda services in the United States as refugees). In those days, a lot of the Royalist priests came over to London and got involved in political societies, sort of like anti-Jacobin, anti-Red, anti-Communist political societies, or anti-revolutionary political societies, and it really got people involved.
People got really scared of that Leviathan or revolution in France when they started cutting the head of the king off, and the revolution went on into cycles where the revolutionaries were killing each other and, just like now [sic- 1979] with Cambodia and Vietnam, there were great massacres and everybody said, “Oops, it was all wrong, we were all wrong, we’ve compromised ourselves,” and people began trying to make up for it – like the great priest of that day, I think his name you’ll know – he was the President of the Anti-slavery Society of London. See, there was still slavery in those days. So there was an Anti-slavery Society that they had to deal with.
Does anybody know anything about (the) history of that time? Well, let’s see if I can find his name… In fact, around that time, 1787-1793, there were vast debates in Parliament and in the British newspapers about outlawing slavery in England, I believe, and outlawing the slave trade. And The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and “This empire is no more,” “A Song of Liberty”, relates to that. It was women’s lib in those days, slavery, sexual revolution – (all the) same themes as now. Gay Lib didn’t seem to exist then, but Mary Wollstonecraft and Women’s Lib, political liberty – free speech and all that – anti-authoritarian revolution, and the psychological revolution, had begun then, which continues in our own time. And then the excesses of the psychological and political revolution continue.
So people got a little scared that they had gone too far and so there is … ( I’m trying to find the name of the president of the anti-slavery society of those days. Well, I’ll get onto it later, maybe. I’m sorry I lost that one.) [Editorial note – (William Wilberforce)]
to be continued
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-nine-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-six-and-a-half minutes in