Page:The poetical works of William Blake, 1906 - Volume 1.djvu/307

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269
'A SONG OF LIBERTY'


so short, that while its earliness makes the coherence of its symbolism with that of the later books a guarantee that Blake always knew his own mind—though it took so long for any one else to do so—its shortness makes it serviceable if paraphrased as a sort of exercise in which some portion of Blake's peculiar language may conveniently be learned.

And here the editor ventures to appeal to the readers, begging them first to take pains to learn all the language—not merely the little bits that he can teach in these italic notes, and, having learned it, to read it to himself as he would read a foreign tongue which had become as familiar to him as his native language, so that he ceases to translate it into other words as he goes along, but allows his mind to vivify it straight into its meaning, passing through its images to its purposes. Then, and then only, will he understand Blake's position among the poets.

1. The Eternal Female, the corporeal instincts, groaned. It was felt through all flesh—the earth (Adam, Red Earth). She will not be happy until with Ahania, and 'all the lovely sex,' all the pathos, the instincts. She obeys the sublime, the male.—'Vala,' Night IX., line 215.

2. The world of generation—the North of the North, Albion's coast in Europe—is sick with restraint. The American, or western meadows, or the tissues from which instincts arise, faint under it.

3. The spirits that awake the flesh to action in each person timidly sent desires down the nerves. France, Passion of the Blood—Luvah and Orc in one (compare 'Jerusalem,' page 49, line 46; page 55, line 29; page 60, line 15; and 'Vala,' Night VIII., lines 59 and 60)—be no longer restrained! (as Urizen said in 'Vala,' Night IX., line 186, when Tharmas is America).

4. Intellect that learns from generation and regenerates the Man, cast off thy restraining half.

5. Cast thy restraint off on South of North—Rome in Europe; religion in wai—Rahab—or Urizen in the Net.

6. And lay thy heart open with a sword of tears (compare notes to 'Jerusalem': the sword).

7. The 'woman old' of the Mental Traveller—who is both morality and Divine analogy—took the new-born spirit that discerns imaginative meaning through its desires (howling is symbol for desiring) in her hands, trembling.

8. It stood before Urizen (the Starry King) on those truly moral heights of unalloyed pure passion that were of the soul once, and that the body drowns now.

9. He was seen in vision waving over the lower passions,—wings—on which gloomy desiring and matter-of-fact elderly selfish faces appeared as though painted—in fact, as a flag's