Page:Works of William Blake; poetic, symbolic, and critical (1893) Volume 2.djvu/167

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
153
AMERICA.

not merely lust, but enthusiasm. The fire of genius in the mind, and the fire of youth in the blood are two kindred energies. The lower is in its way the father of the higher,—they engender each other in fact, as the caress leads to love and love to the caress, while anger brings on the blow and the blow arouses anger.

But while the enthusiasm of a man is still overlaid by the weight of his own youthful strength with its own peculiar cravings, he needs that the vitality in him should be kept alive by concrete emotions and experiences. Till the body is free of earth it must have food grown on the earth.

In the beginning of the Preludium we hear of Orc chained for fourteen years to a rock, while his food is brought to him in iron baskets. This food is experience of corporeal emotion. The iron baskets are the bodily vessels in which such experience is brought to each of us.

Orc, before he begins his active or mature life, is, as it were, a boy bound in chains of time from the exercise of the passions of youth. But Orc is one of the "states" of humanity, and in each individual this part of the myth does not correspond with physical childhood, but with the immaturity of imaginative and poetic vigour. The "food" on which Ore's boyhood is nourished was brought to him by a nameless shadowy female, helmeted, dark haired, armed with arrows and a bow of night, naked, but clothed with clouds round the loins only. She was nameless for the same reason that Orc was powerless. Her time had not yet come. She is, however, practically identical with Vala (Night VII., line 714), and finally, elsewhere, says so. She is shadowy because of the dark, the corporeal; helmeted because devoted to the strife of fructification. Her arms were but the light weapons that fly forward in advance of the great battle,—arrows, desires, or rather provocations. She was invulnerable, and naked, or in-corporeal, for the body is the garment, in Blake's symbolisms. Her loins were clothed, and these were but seen as the formless cloud that when condensed is a