William Blake (Little Girl Lost/ Little Girl Found  part two.) 

continuing from here, Allen recites William Blake’s “Little Girl Found”     

“All the night in woe/Lyca’s parents go:/Over vallies deep,/While the deserts weep./  Tired and woe-begone,/Hoarse with making moan:/Arm in arm seven days,/They trac’d the desart ways./ Seven nights they sleep,/Among shadows deep:/And dream they see their child/Starv’d in desert wild./ Pale thro pathless ways/The fancied image strays,/Famish’d, weeping, weak/With hollow piteous shriek./  Rising from unrest,/The trembling woman prest,/With feet of weary woe;/She could no further go./In his arms he bore,/Her arm’d with sorrow sore;/Till before their way,/A couching lion lay./Turning back was vain,/Soon his heavy mane,/Bore them to the ground;/Then he stalk’d around,/Smelling to his prey./But their fears allay,/When he licks their hands;/And silent by them stands./They look upon his eyes/Fill’d with deep surprise:/And wondering behold,/A spirit arm’d in gold./On his head a crown/ On his shoulders down,/Flow’d his golden hair./Gone was all their care./Follow me he said,/Weep not for the maid;/In my palace deep,/Lyca lies asleep./Then they followed,/Where the vision led:/And saw their sleeping child,/Among tygers wild./To this day they dwell/In a lonely dell/Nor fear the wolvish howl,/Nor the lions growl.”

Well, I don’t know.  It’s some kind of reunification of the spirit and matter, I guess, or the spirit and nature, or the children and the father.  I always took it as a unification or that loss and then reunification of the body and soul, soul and its maker or soul and its home, soul going back home, guarded by all the wild forces of nature.  Maybe in death, actually. Because the lion I think … let’s see what he says about the lion.  That’s kind of interesting.  Has anybody looked up the lion ever here?  Has anybody got a copy of this?

Student:  The Blake Dictionary

AG:  Well, let’s see.  “The Lion is a “noble” beast, typifying Judah and Jesus. Ond of the four heads of each of the “living creatures” of Ezekiel has the face if a lion, whereas in Revelation, the first of the four beasts has a lion’s head.”  (The lion of St. Mark, also).  The compass point of the Lion is north – Urthona, the imagination.  The protector of the lamb.  The “lion’s wrath is particularly directed against the wolves”.. “Empire is no more! and now the lion & wolf shall cease.” – The “lion’s wrath is particularly directed against the wolves.”  The wolves are the predators of the lambs.  In the Songs of Innocence , “the Lion defends the flocks against the wolves and tygers; but the innocents are actually killed:  it is in Eternity that the Lion lies down with the Lamb.  In “The Little Girl Lost” and “The Little Girl Found,” the Lion himself is the Angel of Death.” That’s what Foster Damon concludes –  That the lion.. is
“the Angel of Death, who carries little Lyca to his den, or palace, and then (appearing in his true form as ‘a Spirit arm’d in gold’) conveys her parents there, where they dwell together in happiness.  The Lion is often associated with the Tyger, for they both are forms of wrath:  the Lion is spiritual wrath, inspired by pity … while the Tyger’s blind wrath is purely emotional.” –   So the wrath of the Lion is imaginative wrath, spiritual; (the) wrath of the Tyger is revolution, maybe, and emotional.  ” The one rages in flames”,  the lion’s wrath rages in flames,  “and the Tyger’s wrath in smoke.”  Well, that’s pretty good.

And what does he say about (her)?  I’ll look up “Lyca”.  L-Y-C-A.  He may not have anything there.  Or can somebody (look it up)?  Does anybody have this book?  You might look up “Little Girl Lost” if anybody’s got a copy of that.

Lyca.  Yeah.  He’s got quite a bit on that.  “LYCA is the seven-year-old child of “The Little Girl Lost” and “The Little Girl Found”.  Following the birds’ songs, she loses herself in a desert and goes to sleep beneath a tree.  The beasts of prey spare her; the lion (the angel of death) weps over her while his lioness removes “her slender dress,” and they convey her, still sleeping, “to (the) caves.”  Her parents seek her in woe for seven days; then the lion encounters them, bears them to the ground, and licks their hands.  At last they perceive his real form as a crowned spirit armed in gold.  He assures them that their daughter is asleep in his palace.  They follow him, and “to this day” live in a lonely dell, safe from the wild beasts.  The decoration of the first of the two poems” – “The Little Girl Lost” – “represents the embrace of a youth and a maiden.  She points upward to a bird  (“the joy as it flies”) while even the serpent averts his head.  This design is evidently an illustration to another poem, “A Little Girl Lost”.  ‘Lyca” was the name originally given to Susan in the “Laughing Song”.  Blake evidentally did not know that ‘Lyca'”  ( L-Y-C-A,  Liekuh) – was the Greek word for “wolf.”    So maybe Lie-kuh wouldn’t make it.   That’s pretty good.

Well, that’s the most mysterious of all the Blake songs.  So he apparently tackles death and makes death into a lion armed in gold.

Student:  What does “Angel of Death” mean?  Is that the person who brings death, the protector, or..?

AG:  I guess the experience.  The actual experience, as it is when it happens, instead of the idea of it.  I don’t know what the Angel of Death was.

Student:  I was wondering how the angel … what the role….

AG:  Of the angel would be?

Student:  Yeah.

AG:  Well, perhaps a protecting guardian spirit taking you through that experience.  The wisdom of that experience, rather than the fear of it.  It’s an amazing thing.

Student:  So it’s like “your daughter’s dead, don’t worry”.

AG:  “You’re going to come there, too, and you’ll all be there together.  But death is a liberation.”  Well, I don’t know.  See, they take them to the cavern.  I would have a said death was a liberation from the cavern or the senses.  In this case they’re taken to a cavern, so I don’t know.  I don’t know the ultimate rationale, but it’s liberation.  It’s an imaginative liberation from bondage to the “starry floor” and the “watry shore”.  It’s the break of day.  So I guess what he’s saying is that there is “eternal life after death.”  Or he’s saying from this vegetative universe or from this Urizenic rational universe, measured only by the senses, you go into an infinite universe.

Student:  Um-hmm.

AG:  An infinite space.  I guess.  Guarded by the lion of the angel.  The lion would be an angel of death with tears of gold. It would be a salvation in death rather than a black death. Golden death rather than a black death.  I imagine at that point, 1793, Blake must have felt that death was the opposite of what everybody takes it to be, and why not?

Student:  And through a vision he has in there, you know, through a vision they had a … they followed the vision to the place where they found their daughter …

AG:  Yeah.

Student:  … and saw that she was being protected …

AG:  Um-hmm.

Student:  … and sleeping among tigers.

AG:  Yeah.

Student:  So it must have been the vision that brought him to that place.

AG:  Yeah.  It’s a vision of what?  Let’s see.

“Pale thro pathless ways/The fancied image strays,/Famish’d, weeping, weak”…”And dream they see their child/ Starv’d in desert wild”

So what they see is a horror scene, not realizing that she’s rescued by death, so to speak.  I don’t know.  I don’t want to bullshit about it.  It’s very easy to interpret the lion and death as being salvation, which I think is the basic intent, but he’s put it in such pretty symbolic terms (that) to attempt to translate it into saying “Death is salvation, death is okay” is kind of lowering the tone of it.

That had an hypnotic effect on me.  I remember that was one of the three or four Blake poems that catalyzed some kind of an hallucinatory experience in me when I was young, this particular one, “The Little Girl Lost” –  “How can Lyca sleep if her parents weep.”  It was hearing that repeated over and over again in the back of my brain and suddenly I felt like I was Lyca and that I should waken from the sleep of death while I was alive to realize there was this vast eternity outside of my rational universe.   Yeah?

Student:  When was the Black Plague of London?

AG:  Dunno.  The time of Thomas Nashe, which would be a little bit after Elizabethan.  That would be 1590, or something.  [Editorial note – The Great Plague of London, 1665-1666, the prior “Black Death” pandemic throughout Europe 1347-1351, the student may be conflating the terminology]

Student:  Fifteen-Nineties?

Student:  It was when  (John) Milton was in college.[Editorial note – John Milton (1608-1674) graduated from Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1629, he followed this, graduating with an MA in 1632]

AG:  Okay.  Are we running out of tape.?
Student:  No, you have another tape here, if you want.
AG:  Oh, great, okay.  And did you pass that around?
Student:  No, I didn’t.AG:  Could you?
Student:  Check it off as you go out and maybe check your attendance on Monday, too, since it wasn’t done on that day.
AG:  Do we want to continue on?  I’m willing.
Students:  Yes.
AG:  Well.  Huh?
Student:  Which class is this taking place of?
AG:  Next Monday.
Student:  So there (will be no class..)
AG:  There will be class tomorrow.  Yeah?
Student:  Are we supposed to meet (tomorrow afternoon)
AG:  Tomorrow night.
Student:  Tomorrow night.
AG:  Yeah.  I just wanted to fill up a little.  Do we want to take a little break for food, if anybody’s still hungry?
Tape breaks here

to be continued

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