Monday, July 24, 2017


Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations to Milton's Paradise Lost 
Illustration 5
Adam and Eve Asleep
Genesis 3
[4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
[5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Blake's fifth Illustration of Paradise Lost shows the two angels whom God sent to look over Adam and Eve when they entered the state of sleep. Milton's implication is that in sleep the mind is more vulnerable to the entry of darkness into the psyche to counter the higher levels of consciousness. Eve had not yet consciously thought of eating the forbidden fruit. However Satan in the disguise of a toad whispered in her ear what she perceived as a dream.   

Paradise Lost
Book 4
Line 784-812
  "From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he called
That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.
Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed
Search through this garden, leave unsearched no nook;
But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge,
Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.
This evening from the sun's decline arrived,
Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen
Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escaped
The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt:
Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.
So saying, on he led his radiant files,
Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct
In search of whom they sought: Him there they found
Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,
Assaying by his devilish art to reach
The organs of her fancy, and with them forge
Illusions, as he list, phantasms and dreams;
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise
Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise
At least distempered, discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness: Up he starts
Discovered and surprised."

Book 5 line 82
[Eve's dream]
  "So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,
Even to my mouth of that same fruit held part
Which he had plucked; the pleasant savory smell
So quickened appetite, that I, methought,
Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I flew, and underneath beheld
The earth outstretched immense, a prospect wide
And various: Wondering at my flight and change
To this high exaltation; suddenly
My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,
And fell asleep; but Oh, how glad I waked
To find this but a dream! Thus Eve her night
Related, and thus Adam answered sad.

line 117
[Adam to Eve]
 Evil into the mind of God or man
May come and go, so unreproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind: Which gives me hope
That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,
Waking thou never will consent to do."

The wisdom of the ages tells us that when dreams occur their meaning is obscure. They come from a deeper level of consciousness than the one we operate from in our waking state. They speak in the language of images and imagination. When Eve was given a dream she did not know where it came from or how to interpret it. From her dream she constructed illusions and fancies of an Eve who was more than the 'helpmeet' of Adam. Satan planted in Eve's mind the idea that eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree would make her wiser, stronger and more like God himself. Eve had the choice: evolve according to the pattern implanted within her or seek more than had been given to her.

This was the dilemma with which Eve struggled. Milton and Blake struggled with it too, as do you and I.
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Song 26, (E 16)
"A Dream
Once a dream did weave a shade,
O'er my Angel-guarded bed,
That an Emmet lost it's way
Where on grass methought I lay.

Troubled wilderd and folorn   
Dark benighted travel-worn,
Over many a tangled spray
All heart-broke I heard her say.

O my children! do they cry
Do they hear their father sigh.   
Now they look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me.

Pitying I drop'd a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near:
Who replied. What wailing wight   
Calls the watchman of the night.

I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetles hum,
Little wanderer hie thee home."   
Europe, Plate 9, (E 63)
"Enitharmon slept,                                                
Eighteen hundred years: Man was a Dream!
The night of Nature and their harps unstrung:
She slept in middle of her nightly song,
Eighteen hundred years, a female dream!"

Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 180)
"Thus speaking; the Divine Family follow Albion:
I see them in the Vision of God upon my pleasant valleys.

I behold London; a Human awful wonder of God!
He says: Return, Albion, return! I give myself for thee:         
My Streets are my, Ideas of Imagination.
Awake Albion, awake! and let us awake up together.
My Houses are Thoughts: my Inhabitants; Affections,
The children of my thoughts, walking within my blood-vessels,
Shut from my nervous form which sleeps upon the verge of Beulah  
In dreams of darkness, while my vegetating blood in veiny pipes,
Rolls dreadful thro' the Furnaces of Los, and the Mills of Satan.
For Albions sake, and for Jerusalem thy Emanation
I give myself, and these my brethren give themselves for Albion.

So spoke London, immortal Guardian!"

Jerusalem, Plate 10 [11], E 104
"Then Los & Enitharmon knew that Satan is Urizen       
Drawn down by Orc & the Shadowy Female into Generation
Oft Enitharmon enterd weeping into the Space, there appearing
An aged Woman raving along the Streets (the Space is named
Canaan) then she returnd to Los weary frighted as from dreams   

The nature of a Female Space is this: it shrinks the Organs
Of Life till they become Finite & Itself seems Infinite.   

And Satan vibrated in the immensity of the Space! Limited
To those without but Infinite to those within: it fell down and
Became Canaan: closing Los from Eternity in Albions Cliffs     
A mighty Fiend against the Divine Humanity mustring to War"
Blake's friend Henry Fuseli pictured the scene in Paradise Lost differently.  

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