Saturday, May 06, 2017

BLAKE'S REPOSE

British Museum The Reposing Traveller
1785

Matt.1
[1] The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
[2] Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
[3] And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

[4] And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
...
[16] And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
[17] So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.


William Blake was an enthusiastic admirer of Michelangelo from his youth. The first image he created independently as an apprentice engraver was a copy of a figure from the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican. Another of the images from Michelangelo's frescos which he copied from a print which was available to him was named by Blake The Reposing Traveller. Michelangelo identified the figure as Aminadab and pictured him among the ancestors of Jesus in accordance with the list of generations of Jesus Christ listed in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.


Although The Reposing Traveller was an early work of Blake it epitomized themes which he incorporated in his system of thought throughout his life. We follow the metaphor of life as a journey applied in Blake's poetry from beginning to end. Simultaneously we encounter the image of rest and repose as equally essential as are movement and activity.


The state of repose for Blake finds expression in 'becoming receptive to Generation', in becoming a 'Womb', and in the sleep of Beulah
.
Jerusalem, Plate 53, (E 203)
"Here on the banks of the Thames, Los builded Golgonooza,   
Outside of the Gates of the Human Heart, beneath Beulah
In the midst of the rocks of the Altars of Albion. In fears
He builded it, in rage & in fury. It is the Spiritual Fourfold
London: continually building & continually decaying desolate!
In eternal labours: loud the Furnaces & loud the Anvils          
Of Death thunder incessant around the flaming Couches of
The Twentyfour Friends of Albion and round the awful Four
For the protection of the Twelve Emanations of Albions Sons
The Mystic Union of the Emanation in the Lord; Because    
Man divided from his Emanation is a dark Spectre                 
His Emanation is an ever-weeping melancholy Shadow
But she is made receptive of Generation thro' mercy
In the Potters  Furnace, among the Funeral Urns of Beulah
From Surrey hills, thro' Italy and Greece, to Hinnoms vale." 
Milton, Plate 34 [38], (E 133)
"And all the Songs of Beulah sounded comfortable notes
To comfort Ololons lamentation, for they said:
Are you the Fiery Circle that late drove in fury & fire
The Eight Immortal Starry-Ones down into Ulro dark
Rending the Heavens of Beulah with your thunders & lightnings
And can you thus lament & can you pity & forgive?
Is terror changd to pity O wonder of Eternity!

And the Four States of Humanity in its Repose,
Were shewed them. First of Beulah a most pleasant Sleep
On Couches soft, with mild music, tended by Flowers of Beulah    
Sweet Female forms, winged or floating in the air spontaneous
The Second State is Alla & the third State Al-Ulro;
But the Fourth State is dreadful; it is named Or-Ulro:
The First State is in the Head, the Second is in the Heart:
The Third in the Loins & Seminal Vessels & the Fourth            
In the Stomach & Intestines terrible, deadly, unutterable
And he whose Gates are opend in those Regions of his Body
Can from those Gates view all these wondrous Imaginations
...
Then view'd from Miltons Track they see the Ulro: a vast Polypus
Of living fibres down into the Sea of Time & Space growing       
A self-devouring monstrous human Death Twenty-seven fold
Within it sit Five Females & the nameless Shadowy Mother
Spinning it from their bowels with songs of amorous delight
And melting cadences that lure the Sleepers of Beulah down
The River Storge (which is Arnon) into the Dead Sea:             
Around this Polypus Los continual builds the Mundane Shell

Jerusalem, Plate 41 [46], (E 188)
"with eloquence
Divine, he wept over Albion: speaking the words of God
In mild perswasion: bringing leaves of the Tree of Life.

Thou art in Error Albion, the Land of Ulro:               
One Error not remov'd, will destroy a human Soul
Repose in Beulahs night, till the Error is remov'd
Reason not on both sides. Repose upon our bosoms
Till the Plow of Jehovah, and the Harrow of Shaddai
Have passed over the Dead, to awake the Dead to Judgment.     
But Albion turn'd away refusing comfort."

Jerusalem, Plate 74, (E 229)
"And the Four Zoa's are Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona
In opposition deadly, and their Wheels in poisonous              
And deadly stupor turn'd against each other loud & fierce
Entering into the Reasoning Power, forsaking Imagination
They became Spectres; & their Human Bodies were reposed
In Beulah, by the Daughters of Beulah with tears & lamentations

The Spectre is the Reasoning Power in Man; & when separated      
From Imagination, and closing itself as in steel, in a Ratio
Of the Things of Memory. It thence frames Laws & Moralities
To destroy Imagination! the Divine Body, by Martyrdoms & Wars"

Gates of Paradise:For the Sexes, The Keys, (E 267)     
"1    My Eternal Man set in Repose
     The Female from his darkness rose
     And She found me beneath a Tree                     
     A Mandrake & in her Veil hid me
     Serpent Reasonings us entice
     Of Good & Evil: Virtue & Vice"

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