Page:Facsimile of the original outlines before colouring of The songs of innocence and of experience executed by William Blake.djvu/25

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xix

suggested, is probably the Angel of God's Pity, and the spiritual likeness of that mood of the boy's father only. In the facsimile of this plate the boy's face was hardly possible to imitate, being a failure in the original,—a few ugly dots placed, perhaps on a dark day, in an almost shapeless round mass.

In No. 15, the illustration hints that children are to be understood symbolically rather than realistically as the audience chosen for the Songs, for here are full-grown youths and maidens made childlike for once through the innocence of laughter, actually carousing in an arbour. A few years later Blake published his "Gates of Paradise," which Gilchrist says is inscribed in some copies as "For the Sexes," and in others "For Children."

The "Cradle Song" has no symbolism in its illustration, but in the "Divine Image" a scroll of flame, partly green, again compares vegetation with consuming fire, and at its roots the creation of Eve is indicated. The creator at the same moment lifts the newly wakened Adam by the hand towards the light. Above are seen figures in adoration, intended to be modern, for the light still shines. Other figures, seemingly angelic, encourage them.

The charity children in page 19 offer no enigma. "Night," on page 20, has a crouching form very roughly sketched at the foot of the tree to the right. It seems to be a lion with a human head,—a childish head,—but it is too small and slight to be anything but a subject for conjecture. The facsimile repeats the puzzle of the original accurately. On page 21, two figures see three in a group. All are holy. The subject is the advance from the dual state to the triad, afterwards developed in the Prophetic Books.

"Spring" and the "Nurse's Song" may be passed, but the red lily on page 25 is evidently intended symbolically, for the "Infant Joy" is not placed in a flower of this colour at random. In the "Sick Rose" the words

"——thy bed
Of crimson joy,"

leave no doubt of the symbol. The Dream has been referred to above with its human glowworm. Page 28 shows the group of page 2 with curious differences. The pipe has gone. The green robe of the shepherd is purple, and the child in the cloud has grown wings, and sits on his head. These should be the changes in the symbol when innocence is enriched by laughter, love, and song.

The Songs of Experience begin with a picture which reminds us that experience is death. The Introduction on page 30 in its nude woman on a cloud, shows the "Watery Shore" in human symbol. It is a different figure, but is, in its way, an aspect of Tharmas—the beginning of Innocence and of Experience. But there is no space here for the story of Tharmas, the third Zoa.

The serpent at the foot of Earth's Answer is almost an additional sentence to the song, so clearly does it show the source of all bondage. In the "Clod