William Blake – from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell – 6

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake  continues from here 

AG: Okay, Plate V  (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell) – “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer usurps its place & governs the unwilling”.  Now, he’s really being real revolutionary here.  He’s knocking everything metaphysically, he’s knocking out religion, he’s knocking out the State, he’s attacking police, he’s attacking the law, he’s attacking all restraint.  He’s promoting, so to speak, chaos. And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire. The history of this is written in Paradise Lost & the Governor of Reason is call’d Messiah. Here he begins his great attack on Milton, which will end in the book Milton  by William Blake, in which he analyzes Milton’s fault in identifying himself with Urizenic Jehovah God, and tries to bring Milton back from the shades and reactivate and sexualize Milton and make Milton human, willing to die, rather than cold and immortal, identified with the everlasting Jehovah as an accuser.

So (Blake’s) now talking in terms of prophets previous to himself.  “The history of this (restraint) is written in Paradise Lost…the Governor … is call’d Messiah” and there is a little footnote in, I think, (Alicia) Ostriker’s book, which explains that, that the Son of God in Paradise Lost is the accuser or punisher.  See, God delegates (to) the Son the accusation of crime against all the energetic devils.  And Christ, the Son of God, assigns the punishment.  Blake feels that this function is the restrainer function of reason, of hardness, rather than mercy.  Mutual forgiveness of sins.   “And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the heavenly host, is call’d the Devil or Satan and his children are call’d Sin & Death But in the Book of Job Milton’s Messiah..”  – (the same Messiah who punishes, who judges and punishes) – “…is call’d Satan”  – ( that is, Satan in the Book of Job is the accuser and punisher of Job – remember? –  In “The Book of Job” Satan and God are having an argument about whether Job is faithful and Satan suggests all sorts of (tests) to God – (He) says, “this guy down here, your servant down there, he doesn’t really like you. Just try him with some boils and take away his flock and his sheep and kill his kids and see him begin complaining any minute”).   So Satan is the accuser there, Blake is pointing out, whereas the Messiah is the accuser for performing the same function in Milton’s Paradise Lost.  Is that clear?  It may not be clear for those who haven’t read Paradise Lost, but, if you have some glimpse of Paradise Lost, where you see God in heaven delegating the job of accusing and punishing to his son, (he) would be the policeman.  God makes his son the divine policeman over the rebel angels, just as Satan is (a) kind of policeman in “The Book of Job” in the Bible.
So Blake is pointing out that everything’s got turned inside out -” For this history has been adopted by both parties/ It indeed appear’d to Reason as if Desire was cast out, but the Devils account is, that the Messiah fell & formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss” (In other words, the heaven in Milton is actually what Reason the Messiah stole from the energetic fiery burning, and very poetically interesting, Abyss down in hell).  If you read from Milton as Blake points out in his note there, the reason Milton wrote in fetters (that is to say, fettered, (in) bondage, (with) restraint, his imagination didn’t soar)  when he wrote of angels and God and the reason he wrote in liberty when of devils and hell – (because (in) Milton in Paradise Lost, the great moments are the conferences of hell and the fires in hell and the big speeches, like the ones I was reading) – the reason he wrote at liberty when of devils and hell is because he was a true poet and of the devil’s party without knowing it.

to be continued


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