Ginsberg-Blake continuing – 7

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s “America – A Prophecy” continues from here

AG ( reading from Blake):  “So cried he, rending off his robe & throwing down his scepter/In sight of Albions Guardian, and all the thirteen Angels/Rent off their robes to the hungry wind, & threw their golden scepters/Down on the land of America. indignant they descended/Headlong from out their heav’nly heights..” – (The heights of abstraction and removal from the ground, from the actual energies of the revolution) -“… descending swift as fires/Over the land; naked & flaming are their lineaments seen/In the deep gloom, by Washington & Paine & Warren they stood..”

And that illustration is very strange.  An old man entering into a tomb: 12n (on) page 150  (of the Illuminated Blake)

The tomb, incidentally, was copied by Walt Whitman as the design for his own tomb.  So if you go to Whitman’s graveyard in Camden, (New Jersey) and visit his grave, you’ll find this very same design, which reappears in Blake several times with an arch over it.  Its arched stone door, like the entrance to the tomb. You see it in the first illustration of Jerusalem too.

Odd collocation.  It’s an odd political..  very strange little piece of insight on Whitman’s part, to have picked out that specific design as his own for a tomb.

Walt Whitman’s tomb, Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, New Jersey

I guess the first biography of (Blake), the (Alexander) Gilchrist biography ... Whitman knew a Mrs. Gilchrist in Philadelphia. That may have been the same. I forgot to check that out. (Editorial note – That was very much the same, Anne was Alexander’s widow and helped complete his Blake biography after his death}  So Whitman probably knew the first biography of Blake and the first extensive two-volume study, which we have in the library here (at Naropa).  But Miss Anne Gilchrist was Whitman’s friend. Does anybody know about that? In Philadelphia?  He used to take carriages from Camden to Philadelphia to see her and play with her children.

So, “Emblem of a king’s fate?” says Erdman about that old man entering the tomb, with the wind blowing his hair into it. The wind of revolution blowing him in, maybe.

He’s got a crutch but he’s a pretty solid-looking guy.

Peter Orlovsky:  Who is that?

AG:  Well, I’m not quite sure.  It could be the king — King George III – though George at that time was only 35 years old, but he’s always symbolized by Blake as aged and vampirish and crazed.  So that may be Blake’s vision of George III.

And on the facing page, incidentally, before we get to it, you’ll see (a) masculine (form) on the bottom and (a) feminine (form) (on the top (of) page 151 (of The Illuminated Blake) The woman – Oothoon  – torn by an eagle, (again, the horrors of war to the female, and the horrors of war to the male at the bottom).  Or suffering,  like being torn apart, lying at the bottom of the ocean, being eaten by fish – The basic nightmare (or) some basic death- nightmare of war-death experience (and) suffering nightmare from man and woman, as the war begins to burst open, as the revolution begins.

So these are the fates:  The old man going into the tomb, and the as yet unawakened man and woman of the new age, of the revolutionary age, still sleeping, still not quite awake and so tormented by the suffering that precedes the revolution, let us say.  Or the opening of the revolution.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately nineteen-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-three minutes in]

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