William Blake continues – 4

“O Urizen! Creator of men! mistaken Demon of heaven” (William Blake)

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion continuing from – here

AG: “Ah”, so Bromion is wondering – “Ah! are there other wars, beside the wars of sword and fire!/ And are their other sorrows, beside the sorrows of poverty!/ And are their other joys, beside the joys of riches and ease?/ And is there not one …” – (I guess that Rockefeller’s asking that now [1979] I’ll bet.. {Editorial note – Nelson Rockefeller had just died a few weeks prior, January 26, 1979 – see Allen’s poem, “A Curse and Exorcism” – here]  –  “And are their other joys, beside the joys of riches and ease?” – “And is there not one law for the lion and ox?)” – He’s saying, “Why are they questioning that?”  Because earlier we’d had “One law for the lion and the ox” was oppression.  But here Bromion has got a little crack in his armor plate.

And then, finally, he’s even questioning whether the traditional Hell exists – “And is there not eternal fire, and eternal chains?/ To bind the phantoms of existence from eternal life?” – (See, Oothoon has been urging eternal life and infinite expansion.)

“Then Oothoon waited silent all the day and all the night.”

Of course, Erdman in the Prophet.. book says these are all rhetorical questions he’s asking.  In other words, he’s asking rhetorical questions that present his psychological situation, his possible aspirations, reflecting Oothoon’s plea.

Am I going through this with too much psychological detail, or is this….
Students: No.
AG:  … is it boring?
Student: No, it’s good.

AG: Because all I’m doing is putting together, actually, material I’ve gotten from the Damon Dictionary and the various little footnotes and aids to reading.

“Then Oothoon waited silent all the day. and all the night,/But when the morn arose, her lamentation renewd,/The Daughters of Albion hear her woes, & eccho back her sighs.” – (The Daughters of Albion are all women on earth longing for freedom, or, all freedom on earth longing for recognition and liberation.  In other words, you could have a great Women’s Lib group called “The Daughters of Albion”! – “The Daughters of Albion Fund-Raising Dance”!)

And now, finally, she gets to the heart of the matter.  She pronounces the magical name of the great villain of all time – “O Urizen! Creator of men!” – (Actually she’s pointing out here that the form, the entire physical form of the universe that we’re stuck with is a by- product of, is a product of  Urizen’s calculations, senses, solidifications, enclosures, rigidifications, stereotypes, limitations, boundings, definitions.   So he’s even calling.. and it’s actually.. And you might (say)..” O Jehovah, Creator of men”. So he really has, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, carried over that thought, that Jehovah is really the evil force, the limiting force. “O Urizen!”  –  and it’s Bromion addressed here, also. Bromion is sort of a representative of Urizen in this particular shot.

“… Creator of men! mistaken Demon of heaven” – (O Jehovah! (mistaken)…  O God! mistaken Demon of heaven.. Jehovah!) – “mistaken Demon of heaven”.  Imagine the nerve it would take to sum up that particular challenge to the entire moral universe of George III, of Louis XVI, of the London Times, of Bishop Wilberforce who was against slavery, of Edmund Burke, who was against any revolution at all.  He’s actually calling down.. he’s like Samson, pulling down all the pillars of Western civilization, including the mind of the Industrial Revolution, including the ancient mind of the Ancient of Days, a creator of men.  “O! Urizen.”  And he’s doing it on behalf of women!  On behalf of, like, Women’s Liberation, (which is a really, like, a  historically beautiful moment, there).  So he’s finally named it.  He’s named the spectral power that has been controlling everybody for six thousand years (as he pointed out in “The French Revolution”)  this was the end of six thousand years of Jehovaic tyranny.

“O Urizen! Creator of men! mistaken Demon of heaven:/Thy joys.. Thy joys are tears! thy labour vain, to form men to thine image.” – (which goes right back to  (The Book of) Genesis, that God created man in his image) – “How can one joy absorb another? are not different joys/ Holy, eternal, infinite! and each joy is a Love./Doth not the great mouth laugh at a gift?..” – Who’s “the great mouth”? –  It’s a really good line, but what is this “great (mouth)”?  I would guess that this was… he’s talking about Jehovah, or the king, or the majesty, or the ruler, or the slave-owner –  the “great mouth that laughs at a gift”.  He’s pointing out the cruelty of Jehovah.

“…& the narrow eyelids mock/ At the labor that is above payment..” – (Her orgasm, actually.  “(T)he labor that is above payment,” or the birth of a new joy, or the birth of a revolution, or the birth of Orc – revolution) – “…. and wilt thou take the rational imitator/ For thy councellor?” – (“The ape” –  Remember the apes and the monkeys of the “Memorable Fancy” of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell ? , where the apes were the devourers of the prolific of the creation of the prolific?) – “… and wilt thou take the ape/For thy councellor? or the dog, for a schoolmaster to thy children?/ Does he who condemns poverty, and he who turns with abhorrence/ From usury: feel the same passion or are they moved alike?/How can the giver of gifts experience the delights of the merchant?” – )

Now, I wonder what this is all about?  This again (is) back to “one law for the lion and ox is oppression”.  She’s talking about…. seems to be she’s talking about that, in Urizen‘s place, or in the king’s place, or in the slave-holder’s place, or even in Theotormon‘s place, or the liberals place, how can you actually experience the suffering and understand the suffering of those whom he’s enslaved with his pity or his wrath (Bromion with his wrath, Theotormon’s, pity)?  Actually. he’s saying, “How can the ruling class understand the sufferings of the ruled?

“How can the giver of gifts experience the delights of the merchant?/ How the industrious citizen the pains of the husbandman./How different far the fat fed hireling with hollow drum;/ Who buys whole corn fields into wastes, and sings upon the heath:/How different their eye and ear! how different the world to them!/ With what sense does the parson claim the labour of the farmer?/What are his nets & gins & traps. & how does he surround him/ With cold floods of abstraction, and with forest of solitude,/To build him castles and high spires. where kings & priests may dwell./Til she who burns with youth, and knows no fixed lot; is bound/ In spells of law to one she loaths: and must she drag the chain/Of life, in weary lust!” – (Loveless marriage, says Damon.  You know, you’re sold to marriage. You’ve got to.. You got the squire class and he got money and you got married.. your dowry, and so you go to bed with a palsied old man if you’re a little girl. You’re sold in marriage.)

And what’s really interesting here is how his analysis of the economic agronomy, the ruinous agriculture tendencies of the time, are connected with the ruining marriage compacts.  In other words, what Oothoon is talking about now was (is) not only slavery (Women’s Liberation), now he’s talking about the enslavement of the land to the owners, and the ruining of the land.  The enclosures are … Do we have any enclosures here?   There’s a lot of commentary in Erdman’s book about that, if you’re interested, about economic.. agricultural economy coming to a crisis at that time, (which is now swelled to gigantical proportions in our own time)  as land is bought up by money to make more money,  as land becomes commodity, not for use but for resale, and resale to banks for agricultural big business, or construction companies for real-estate investment, land which should be into fertile production. And farmers moving off the land into the cities, where there is unemployment, which was also..which is exactly what was happening in Blake’s time

“And “she who burns with youth, and knows no fixed lot, is bound/In spells of law to one she loaths?” – (I think..  I haven’t said anything.. Mary Wollstonecraft spoke a great deal, but I haven’t said anything in detail about the marriage-contract laws of those days and how they   completely enslaved women  [to (female) Student} – Do you know anything about it?

Student: Well I know that they had stipulations as to what could constitute “a bad wife”, and it was things like.. you know.. I mean, today for not doing the dishes, it was, you know, it was that kind of…

AG: Enslavement, yeah.

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding forty-eight-and-a-half minutes in]

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