Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion continues from here
AG: Oh. So, okay. Now comes more great rhetoric. So she (Oothoon) says, “Father of Jealousy. be thou accursed from the earth!/ Why hast thou taught my Theotormon this accursed thing?/Till beauty fades from off my shoulders darken’d and cast out,/A solitary shadow wailing on the margin of nonentity?/ I cry, Love! Love! Love! happy happy Love! free as the mountain wind!/ Can that be Love, that drinks another as a sponge drinks water..” – (That is now talking about the marriage compact again and the horrible men drinking their women.
“That clouds with jealousy his nights..” – (Bromion and Theotormon) – “…with weepings all the day,/To spin a web of age around him, grey and hoary! dark;/Till his eyes sicken at the fruits that hangs before his sight?/ Such is self-love that envies all, a creeping skeleton,/ With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed” – (There’s that great grim image. You can see that “creeping skeleton with lamp-like eyes”. I think there are some illustrations of it in different books of Blake. That image appears, “the creeping skeleton with lamp-like eye”s. Now, I felt like that millions of times. I felt like “a creeping skeleton with lamp-like eyes” envying someone else’s orgasm.
“But silken nets and traps of adament will Oothoon spread,/And catch for thee girls of mild silver, or of furious gold.” – (She’s proposing orgies now. Many, many, like a whole myriad representation of woman – “girls of mild silver, or of furious gold.” – So she’s going to use all of her feminine charms to waken Theotormon, including, no jealousy, offering him other women, too) – “I’ll lie beside thee on a bank & view their wanton play/In lovely copulation, bliss on bliss, with Theotormon:/ Red as the rosy morning, lustful as the first born beam..” – (Wow! , “first born beam.”) – “Oothoon shall view his dear delight, nor e’er with jealous cloud/Come in the heaven of generous love; nor selfish blightings bring.” – (That’s really good! ) –
So Theotormon’s problem was jealousy in a sense. That moralistic, theologically-tormented love, lovers trying to be all-right-nik love, (or love that wants consent of old Nobodaddy, love that lacks its own geniuneness and stability as Oothoon’s newly wakened, liberated love, is a love cloud of jealousy). It wants everything to be right. It doesn’t want any stain. It doesn’t want to experience the difficulties of love, it doesn’t want to die, it doesn’t want to enter the “worm’s palace” [“Does not the worm erect a pillar in the mouldering church yard/And a palace of eternity in the jaws of the hungry grave”] or “the Gates of Wrath”.
But actually this is very idealistic on Blake’s part. Blake is taking Mary Wollstonecraft and Percy Shelley and William Godwin‘s ideas of Flower Power communality, orgy, anarchism, anti-Church, anti-State erotic idealism and proposing it as part of the revolution at that time, just as it was proposed in the ’60s as part of the revolution – sex, dope, anarchy. Or dope, sex, fucking in the streets, rock and roll… See, it’s the same program as Ed Sanders (in the) 1960’s Flower Power program – Anarchy and sex. Sex, anarchy and dope. Sex, anarchy, dope, revolution. And that’s what he’s basically proposing.
Of course he’s young in these Lambeth prophecies, so there are going to be a whole series of political prophecies – one on Asia (what’s going to happen to Asia), one on Europe, one on America. He’s actually now going to tackle the whole political and economic, agricultural and social world and build a big system in the next couple of books, which you’ll be reading over the next few weeks – America, following, digging the revolution in America from this point of view, then sub-books of Africa, Asia, [The Song of Los] and Europe, and then a special Book of Los, the imagination, will be coming on. All very short things, like three pages, five pages, ten pages. A whole series of breakthroughs – applications of his major insight to the political problems of his day and then the complications of them, as the French Revolution turns sour, the King is beheaded, Robespierre goes down the hole, (and) the revolution turns upon itself and begins devouring its own children. Same problem, as we will now see in the next few weeks while we’re reading this [sic], in Iran, and, as we are following in the newspapers [sic -1979], with Cambodia, Vietnam, China..
So the psychology of this is eternal, or is perennial, let us say. The psychological problems and the political problems posed are right on, and what we have is the advantage of watching Blake go through phases and cycles of his own experiences, and his own historic time, with a tremendous lyric mind and a tremendous psychological grasp. Having to deal with the wrath – “the Gates of Wrath” – politically, and finally, in the later poems, in Milton and finally Jerusalem , ultimately having to deal with his own wrath, his own resentment, his own inner conflicts, his own sexual torment (and) jealousy, finally having to locate the world problem in his own psyche and resolve it through the integration of his own psyche in Jerusalem particularly. And then project that integration out on the entire world again.
But here he’s still somewhat under the illusion that it’s the external forces that are creating the problem, or forces that are external to him, say, or forces that he has no responsibility for, or forces that he is free of (or) free from himself. Here he’s still thinking maybe he’s liberated and urging the world on to liberation. I mean, he’s saying that Oothoon is going to get all these pretty silver and golden girls and set up orgy scenes and rescue poor Theotormon from his masturbation by total generosity of love-light. And she’ll never get jealous, and she’ll never have to worry about rent or food or who’s going to babysit. Who’s going to babysit little Orc, when he goes around raging, destroying the house. At some point or other Orc is going to destroy creation, later on.
Theotormon will later become one aspect of Los, I think, probably. Los, the imagination, who is the father or Orc, revolution, and who is it? Enitharmon, I believe. Oothoon will become Enitharmon, probably. I think I’m correct here. That’s Los’s feminine projection in the external phenomenal world, relating to poetic imagination, and they’ll give birth, because Urizen is dominating them and still trying to control the universe, the child they give birth to is Orc, who has to go out and fight Urizen. And whom Urizen represses and binds down on a rock with chains that are made out of the meat blood of poetic imagination. Los is very wide-minded, being complete imagination of humanity, and so he realizes that the fiery revolution itself is not the final answer, that’s just a necessary babe of the moment. The “burning babe” of the moment.
But, anyway, back here (to the text of Visions of the Daughters of Albion): “Does the sun walk in glorious raiment on the secret floor/Where the cold miser spreads his gold? or does the bright cloud drop/On his tone threshold? does his eye behold the beam that brings/ Expansion to the eye of pity? or will he bind himself/ Beside the ox to thy hard furrow? does not that mild beam blot/ The bat, the owl, the glowing tyger..” – (That’s kind of nice – “glowing tyger.” If you know Blake’s (poem “(The) Tyger”, for him to come up with a “glowing tyger” at this point is pretty.
“… and the king of night?..” – Well, this goes on. Well, I might as well finish it because it’s just another few lines til the end of the book.
to be continued (and concluded) tomorrow
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately seventy-four-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately eighty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in