Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s America – A Prophecy continues from here
“The shadowy daughter of Urthona stood before red Orc./When fourteen suns had faintly journey’d o’er his dark abode” – ( Fourteen suns are the years 1762 – the (year of) Rousseau’s Social Contract– to the American Revolution, 1776. If you’re interested (in) that funny little (detail). He was writing of his time and he was counting up what was happening in his day) – “The shadowy daughter of Urthona” – (now, this woman, who’s a shadowy daughter, will speak like Oothoon. We’ve just had “The Vision of the Daughters of Albion” (where) we’ve seen Oothoon frustrated somewhat. She hasn’t been allowed to have (a) full, liberated, birth. Oothoon is also nature, so she’s still a shadowy daughter, say, (or) not completely born, in the sense that she’s still chained back-to-back with Bromion, (who) sort of (represents) heavy critical mind. And the masculine spirit, Theotormon, still hasn’t woken up to relate to her. So, in slight change, this may be Oothoon –“the shadowy daughter of Urthona”. Urthona is imagination and Orc is a figure that will come (up) increasingly in Blake, and this is his first big appearance. So let’s follow in, and then we’ll get a little bit more into exactly who Orc is, and who Urthona is, and who “the shadowy daughter” is.
But, “the shadowy daughter”, basically, is unawakened nature, or nature not complete aroused, or fallen nature. That is, there once was, maybe, a Garden of Eden, but people are now stuck in the vegetable world and unawakened. So it’s sort of blind nature. If you remember in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” – “Where man is not nature is barren.” Remember that? – “Where man is not nature is barren.” So Orc (would) be the man, and Urthona would be the barren nature. But she’s trying to wake up Orc. But Orc is only fourteen years old. He’s just getting puberty. He’s attaining puberty. He has been nourished by nature; she’s been giving him drinks in cups of iron.
“His food she brought in iron baskets, his drink in cups of iron..” – (Well, all that iron baskets and cups of iron, that could be food but also weapons, because iron is for the plow, remember? The plow is made from iron. And at the same time it could be iron made weapons of conflict and warfare)
“Crown’d with a helmet & dark hair the nameless female stood..”- (She still isn’t recognized yet, so she’s nameless. She hasn’t got a function, she hasn’t been fecundated yet).
“A quiver with its burning stores, a bow like that of night,/When pestilence is shot from heaven; no other arms she need..” – (Erdman interprets the quiver’s “burning stores” as social starvation actually, starvation in London at the time. Poverty and starvation, caused by war, by excessive preparations for war. For war. Very much like Iran now (1979 – sic). The iron preparations for war have caused the decline of farming and massive poverty in Iran, despite the wealth that was being spent for iron weapons. So Iran in a sense has “A quiver with its burning stores, a bow like that of night,/When pestilence is shot from heaven.”
“Invulnerable tho’ naked, save where clouds roll round her loins..” – (Clouds, as we remember, were the clouds of reason and law – rational law, heavy Urizenic law. So “clouds roll round her loins.”. It’s pretty.. He’s building up a vocabulary, so that later on, in the prophetic books, like almost over word, or every major word, will have an esoteric meaning.)
“…clouds roll round her loins”…”…”Their awful folds in the dark air”, silent she stood as night..” – (This is dumb nature. Nature dumb. That is to say, silent) – “For never from her iron tongue could voice or sound arise./But dumb till that dread day when Orc assay’d his fierce embrace.” – (So this is life before the revolutions. Social life or nature unawakened by revolution by Orc. So this is.. the opening is a sort of statement of the scene as human nature before the breakthrough of revolution).
to be continued
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately four-and-three-quarter minutes in, and continuing until approximately nine-and-three-quarter minutes in]