Ginsberg on Blake – ( A Song of Liberty – 1)

“A Song of Liberty” – Allen Ginsberg on William Blake continues from here

” 1. The Eternal Female groan’d! it was heard over all the Earth/ 2. Albions coast is sick silent, the American meadows faint!/ 3  Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers and mutter across the ocean? France rend down thy…(Bastille)..”..”rend down thy dungeon” –  (So actually this is now taking the psychological marriage of heaven and hell right down into historical, political terms, and now he’s going to cover all the different political conflicts and make little prophecies dealing with the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the fall of the Bastille.  It’s “A Song of Liberty” and it means, (just like in (Walt) Whitman, or in any outright political situation (or) political mind), he’s talking revolutionary liberty. And so it might be applied nowadays, if you are going to be a revolutionary libertarian, Maoist, or Red Guard, or Jacobin, or.. whatever you want).

So, “The Eternal Female groan’d!” – ( giving birth –  this is the groan of giving birth to the revolution – heard all over Earth). – (The) English “coast is sick silent” – ( because the American Revolution is taking place).  In America, “the meadows” are “fainting” with the power and horror (of) realizing they’re going to get into the fiery Leviathan of the revolution).  “Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers and mutter across the ocean? France rend down thy dungeon..”

“4. Golden Spain burst the barriers of old Rome..” – (and the religions of old Rome) – “5 . Cast thy keys..” – (the Papal keys) – “5. Cast thy keys O Rome into the deep down falling, even to eternity down falling…” – (So, telling Rome to get rid of the Pope).

It’s a real manifesto for a real world revolution, including beginning with America revolting from Britain, (and the) French Revolution – ( this is 1793, remember – the French Revolution was 1789,  it’s three years after the French Revolution.  This book was done the year, I believe, that the execution of the King and Queen (of France) took place.  King Louis XVI.  That was 1793, or ’94, when the execution finally took place.  It was a long drawn-out affair. They didn’t have in 1789 a revolution and then the populace took over, but it took a year or two, three (till 1794)  before the executions.  Remember, we were talking about Lafayette having wavered back and forth between the populace and the King and finally Lafayette wound up in the Austrian jail for five years? So this is while Lafayette is still in jail – 1794, (or “93).

So he’s calling for Rome to get rid of the Pope,

“6. And weep..” – (Now, this is a paraphrase, as you remember, And Jesus wept.” Remember in the Bible? –  “And Jesus wept.”) – “5. Cast thy keys O Rome into the deep down falling, even to eternity down falling, /6.And weep”

Does everybody know that phrase, “And Jesus wept”?  Well, that’s out of the Bible.  Where is that from?  Does anybody know? Has anybody ever heard of that?

Student: Yeah.

AG: Well, it’s a very famous thing from, where?  I don’t know what part of the Bible that is. (Editorial note – Gospel of John chapter 11, verse 35)

Student: Could it be in the Garden?

AG:  In Gethsemane.

Students: Yeah.

AG:  I know it mainly from Handel’s “Messiah”.

“In her..  Earth… “The Eternal Female groan’d!”?  –  Number 7, now – “7. In her trembling hands…” – (so, that’s whose trembling hands we’re talking about) – “…she took the new born terror howling”.. – Remember the terrible babe of “The Mental Traveller“?  – “For the Babe is born of joy/ That was begotten in dire woe”.. “”They cry, the Babe! the Babe is born/ And flee away on every side”? –   The new born terror is revolution – Orc.  O-R-C  – the figure of Orc.

“8. On those infinite mountains of light now barr’d out by the atlantic sea, the new born fire stood before the starry king!” – (Who’s the “starry king” that Orc is standing (before)?  “(T)he new-born fire” is the babe of revolution standing in front of the “starry king”.  “Starry king”, traditionally in Blake, is Urizen, the tyrant, (or the) fixed Newtonian universe.  That’s why “starry king” (sic) – the fixed Newtonian universe.  And when the stars threw down their spears and watered heaven with their tears”, when Newton’s fixed materialistic, militaristic, mechanic universe finally gave up its spears  (its mechanical warrior wrath), when nature finally gave up (and) ceased to be as described in Newton.  In “The Tyger“:  “Tyger, tyger, burning bright,” there’s a line, “and when the stars threw down their spears”,  meaning, when the mind gave up on seeing nature as this fixed material, bounded hell – (stars with spears).  At one point the stars gave up, threw down their spears and began weeping and watered heaven with their tears.  When the universe is seen through Blake’s eyes, rather than through the Tory angel’s eyes.   Yes?

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-nine minutes in.  

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