AG: Then where do we go from here? To ..Plate 14, “Fury! rage! madness! in a wind swept through America” – That was interesting. (There’s the description of that. It’s a little bit earlier). It’s a woman with a serpent coming out of her cunt, giving instruction to a young boy, naked, leaning on some prophetic books, with his hands in an attitude of prayer toward her authority. And she’s got her hand outstretched, making some kind of Sibyline evil prophecy.
According to Erdman here “Under its barren branches” of this strange tree, “a young scholar, kept ignorant of the bright flames, not opening the testaments under his elbow … worshipfully accepts instruction from a death-preaching sibyl…. From her womb speaks a lean but eloquent serpent, one of the monsters of error that breed in the womb of Moral Virtue.”
And (S Foster) Damon‘s comment on this is (that) this is a figure of Rahab beneath a sterile tree preaching materialism to youth. Rahab and Vala are aspects of nature seen as materialistic nature (or) maya – the veil of maya. (In) the Oriental conception, it would be the veil of illusion or maya – a primitive belief in reality and (a) primitive belief in the nature of the world as totally solid, indestructible and impenetrable by imagination or compassion.
So, in a way, I suppose, it fits these lines, “Fury! rage! madness! and a wind swept through America,” in Plate 14. That scared everybody. – “The citizens of New-York close their books & lock their chests/The mariners of Boston drop their anchors and unlade/ The scribe of Pennsylvania casts his pen upon the earth.” – It may relate to that. Or, “Then had America been lost, o’erwhelm’d by the” hypnotic power of George III and of his authority and of mental authority.
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-six-and-three-quarter minutes in