Blake's "Tyger" as Miltonic beast.
Blake was inspired by Milton as no other author, and in An bland of the Moon, 1784-85, Quid (as Blake) enigmatically describes his lustful physiognomy as "Very like a Goat's face," while the face of the female who inordinately admires Quid's "high finishd" Art possesses the characteristics of "that noble beast the Tyger" (E 465), an allusion to Milton's Comus (68-74), where the brutish "human count'nance" is "chang'd / Into ... Tiger ... or bearded Goat." Comus (71) and Paradise Lost (4-344, 7.466-67) both associate the Tiger with the Ounce (the latter a member of the Lynx family), and Blake, in a version of the Magic Banquet, after Comus, illustrated a sorrow-faced Ounce and/or Tiger (Butlin, pl. 628). (2)
Although Blake had a Bengal Tiger in mind for his poem in Experience, the word "tiger" in the 18th century was a genetic term that applied to any kind of leonine beast, and Blake thus placed his Ounce and Tiger in the starry voids in Jerusalem (73:1-21), where Los (Blake's poetic surrogate) locates his "Furnaces" in "the City of Golgonooza," a Palace of Art "builded ... Upon the Limit of Translucence" (FZ v.60:3-4) in the "nether heavens" of hell (FZ VII.81:5-7, E 368). In Milton (29/31:4-11) "The Sky is an immortal Tent built by the Sons of Los," where the "two Poles turn on their valves of gold," (3) and Los's elemental Sons in Jerusalem 73 labor in the "starry characters of Og & Anak" (the giant Orion in his Hebraic context), (4) creating fiery constellations: "the lion [Leo] & wolf [Lupus] the bear [Ursa major] the tyger & ounce" (animals consolidated by Blake into the starry Lynx), (5) and "the wooly lamb," signified by shining Aries--Forms of celestial Art described as "hard restricting condensations," where nebulous light is converted into matter. (6) (Recall that Blake asks in "The Tyger" if the Maker of the little "Lamb" also made the fierce "Tyger.")
Blake extensively explored the night heavens in The Four Zoas (VIII. 106[2nd]:47-48, III:1-8, E 382), where stars, hardening in the heavens, "shake their slumbers off ... / Calling the Lion & the Tyger, the horse [the constellation Pegasus--or Equus] or the wild Stag" (Tarandus, the Reindeer, a circumpolar beast), (7) while "the Lion [Leo] and the Bear [Ursa Major], trembling in the Solid mountain ... view the light ... crying out in terrible existence." Elsewhere in The Four Zoas (VIIb.90:16-22, E 363) Urizen, Blake's fallen Prince of Light, working his way along the Zodiac and nearby paths, confronts the "sullen [starry] ... wooly sheep," the "fierce ... Bull," the "Lion raging in flames," the fiery "Tyger" (i.e., Lynx), the "serpent of the woods," the Serpent of the "waters," and "the scorpion of the desart irritate."
Blake in the above sequential account of the Northern Hemisphere refers to the forms of Aries, Taurus, Leo Major and Minor, the spotted Lynx, Serpens (held by Ophiuchus), gigantic Hydra, and poisonous Scorpio. Hydra, Blake's scaly Serpent of the Waters, sometimes is designated as "Serpens aquaticus" by astronomers, and this huge constellation of the deeps (extending over more than a third of the heavens, the head near Cancer and the tail near Libra) is not to be confused with Hydrus, another water serpent that is a small constellation located in the Southern Hemisphere.
In Jerusalem (3:1-4) Blake appraises the restrictive moral universe--where the "Tyger" roams--in which "God to Man [through Moses] the wond'rous art of writing gave" in "mysterious Sinai's awful cave," envisioned as the cavernous spherical heavens. (8) Blake considered the Decalogue, issued at Sinai, as starry typography cast upon the voids of night, and in turn he transports such holy stellar "wond'rous art" to the unholy environs of Milton's hell, wherein Blake's phrasing alludes to Book One in Paradise Lost (703), in which the "wondrous Art" of Hell is practiced by menacing devils at their flaming forges (9) (my emphases). Hence, Los's fiery forms, circulating in the heavens as constellations in Jerusalem (16:61-66), are "wrought with [hellish] wondrous Art" (my emphasis), and these "bright Sculptures" that are "carved" in "Los's Halls" ("Zodiac" means "carved animals"), (10) as immortal "Works," record for the Reader of Heaven "every pathetic story possible to happen from Hate or / Wayward Love." (11)
In Night the Fourth of The Four Zoas (52:15-19, 53:1-4, 22-28), Los, who possesses both divine and satanic attributes, "resolvd / On hate Eternal," attends to his "Links of fate," an "endless chain of sorrows" (stars as forged tears), (12) pertinent to the wondrous "art" (line 9) that enchains the fiery beast of night in "The Tyger." Significantly, Los in the subject passage in Night the Fourth of The Four Zoas speaks "Ambiguous words," an allusion to Book Six of Paradise Lost (568, cf. 5.703), where Milton's Satan speaks "ambiguous words" (my emphasis). Blake through his varied esoteric readings may have been aware of the fact that the Babylonian Lord of Hell was called "Loz," (13) and, fittingly, in Night the Eighth of The Four Zoas (113[1st]:1-8, E 376) "Los's anvils ... & Furnaces rage," while "Ten thousand demons labour at the forges" in Golgonooza, where occur the "times & spaces of Mortal life," in which "the Sun the Moon the Stars / In periods of Pulsative furor" are created. (14)
Los in the above passage forges molten "wedges & bars": "Then drawing into wires [fiery veins] terrific [i.e., sublime] Passions & Affections / Of the Spectrous dead" (stars entombed in the heavens). Though Los's stellar Art is worthy of "the study of angels," it is the "workmanship of Demons," where "Heaven & Hell in Emulation strove in [warlike] sports of Glow," and Blake's imagery borrows from Book Two of Paradise Lost (298), which addresses the "emulation opposite to Heav'n," while in Book Six of Paradise Lost (289-91) Milton mentions the "evil ... strife of [warlike] Glory," where "Heav'n" can be turned into "Hell." Consequently, in Book Two of Paradise Lost (170-76) Milton's Devils imprisoned in hell appear "exhorting glorious war"--the "glorious War" that peaceful Blake strenuously condemns in Jerusalem (52:10, my emphasis). (15)
Inspired Los creates his Art Forms in the atmospheres of Milton's hell, for Los's amorphous "specters" that assimilate into "forms sublime" in Night the Seventh of The Four Zoas (VIIa.98:25-34, E 370) are located by a "fiery lake," where such forms are constructed with "strength of Art," an infernal force that alludes to Book One of Paradise Lost (697-706), in which Milton's satanic "Spirits reprobate" with "Strength and Art" prepare "veins of liquid fire" from the molten "Lake" of a flaming furnace." In Paradise Lost (1.229-37) this "Lake" of liquid fire is nurtured by the violent "Winds" of Hell, and, consequently, Los in the foregoing text in The Four Zoas bends the "iron points" of his starry creations, "drawing them forth delighted upon the winds of Golgonooza," where Los embraces "the furious raging flames" (my emphases).
Blake extensively evaluates Miltonic imagery in Jerusalem (10:65, 11:1-5), where Los in Golgonooza attends "his Forge," while his Specter, starry Orion, with huge shoulder, knee, and ankle stars, a giant in classical myth famed as a worker of iron, is compelled to perform "sublime Labours" in "vast strength" of Art, for Los and his Specter beat on adamantine "chains," stellar fetters which are "pulsations in time, & extensions of space," and Los and his Specter thus lift "ladles of Ore ... pouring ... into clay ground prepar'd with art" the red-hot veins of their brute creations. Blake's diction, again, reflects Book One of Paradise Lost (703-6), where the gleaming "massy Ore" of hell, attended by devils, is "form'd within the [clay] ground" in "various mould." Such an idiom is anticipated in the MS of "The Tyger" (lines not used in the final engraved version), where Blake asks: "In what clay [ground] & in what [artful] mould / Were thy eyes of fury rolld"? (E 794)--the raging eyes of the "Tyger" poured from furnaces upon the furrows of a heavenly-hell (my emphases).
Blake's Miltonic phrasing in "The Tyger" also subtly accentuates the thoughts of Beelzebub in Book Two of Paradise Lost (410-11), where this devil in reference to Satan asks: "what strength, [and] what art can Suffice" in the gloom of hell's abyss? Similarly, the Speaker in "The Tyger" inquires: "What [satanic] shoulder [of strength] & what art" could "twist the [vein-like] sinews" of the beast's fiery heart? (my emphases). Blake refers to the hellish starry "Mills of Satan & Beelzeboul" in The Four Zoas (VIII. 113 [1st]:2 and 26, E 376-7), while in Milton (3:43) Satan is designated as the "Prince of the Starry Wheels." Beelzebub in Book Two of Paradise Lost (390-416) also wonders what dread "wand'ring feet" dare walk through the hellish Chaos of the "unbottom'd infinite Abyss." (17)
Blake's revisions in the manuscript of "The Tyger" substantiate that Divine as well as Satanic forces forge the "fearful symmetry" of the flaming "cruel" (E 794) beast, (18) and in the first line of the second stanza in the first stage of the manuscript Blake speaks of the "distant deeps [of hell] or skies [of heaven]," for in Milton's cosmography the upper part of the Universal Sphere relates to heaven, whereas the nadir of this sphere encompasses the precincts of hell. In line 3 in the second stanza in the first part of MS Blake assesses the capabilities of the creator of the "Tyger," asking: "On what wings dare he aspire"? (19) Such imagery pertains to Milton's Satan, since Christ conventionally is a wingless entity, and Blake's language alludes to Book Two in Paradise Lost (630-35), in which formidable Satan "shaves with level wing the Deep, [and] then soars up [or aspires] to the fiery concave tow'ring high." The Blakean universe in Milton (12/13:22-23) also is "orb'd ... round in concave fires," forming a "Hell of our own making," allusive to the awful "concave fires" of "Hell" mentioned in Book Two of Paradise Lost (my emphases).
"Tyger"-imagery related to Milton's texts aggressively is aligned by Blake in The Book of Los, 1795, a work issued one year after Songs of Experience, where Los as an "Immortal" builds "Furnaces; he forms an Anvil, / A Hammer of adamant" (5:21-30), and, as "the Prophet of Eternity," he beats on his starry "iron links" of Time. Supernal Los, "condensing / The subtil particles [of light] in an Orb," forms the solar sphere in The Book of Los, recounting Book Seven of Paradise Lost (354-63), where "Light" is "plac'd / In the Sun's Orb," and "then form'd [is] the Moon / Globose," along with the beaming circumference of "Stars," the fires of heaven (cf. FR 211-12, E 295). (20) The syntax in The Book of Los particularly is consonant with the creation of the "Tyger." Blake's words as they occur in The Book of Los are: hands, feet, immortal, furnaces, anvil, hammer, iron links ["chains"], framed, deeps, seizing, and smile: the identical vocabulary of "The Tyger." Blake asks in "The Tyger," "Did he smile his work to see?"--and in The Book of Los, at the creation of the sun in the elemental chaos, Los "smild with joy," (21) just as delighted Los also "smild with joy" in thinking upon moony Enitharmon, after the construction of the "tender Moon" in Jerusalem (85:1-3). It is important to understand that Los's tender moon of the heavens is Miltonic in origin, for in Book Two of Paradise Lost (1053-54) Milton's "pendant world" as a universe hangs by a "golden Chain," a world "close by the Moon" (my emphasis).
Blake utilizes Milton's above imagery in Night the Second of The Four Zoas (11.32:7-8, 33:16-18), where "the stars of heaven [were] created like a golden chain / To bind the Body of Man to heaven [to keep him] from falling into the Abyss," language borrowed from earlier lines in Book Two of Paradise Lost (1004-6), in which this "World" is "link'd in a golden Chain / To that side [of] Heav'n from whence ... [Satan's] Legions fell" (the void spaces of hell that Blake allegorically views as a cosmic womb). Blake also word-plays on Milton's phrasing in Night the Eighth of The Four Zoas (107:14-15, E 380-81), wherein such a womb-like "Space [is] closd with a tender moon," and in Milton (8:43-45) Los's female Emanation, lunar Enitharmon, in addition "form'd a [uterine] Space for Satan," at which she "clos'd it with a tender Moon"--a space that signifies the physical universe, for in Milton (11/12:6) "the [astronomical] Mills of Satan were separated into a moony Space" (a sub-lunar world of mortality, spaces where Blake's "Tyger" also prowls) (my emphases).
Los's satanic attributes in relation to Milton's passages further are reinforced in The Book of Los (4:16-42), wherein Los appears "revolving" through the "black marble" air among "innumerable [starry] fragments," in which Los sinks "precipitant" through the dark voids, falling "oblique" (like the constellation Orion as he proceeds across the heavens), and Blake's description circumspectly alludes to Book Three of Paradise Lost (460-65), for Milton's Satan in "flight precipitant (22) ... winds ... / Through the pure [i.e., white] marble Aire on his oblique way / Amongst innumerable Stars" (23) (my emphases).
Gigantic Los in The Book of Los stands in "the void between fire and fire," and these starry flames are "driv'n by his [dread] hands / And his [dread] feet, which the nether abyss / Stamp'd in fury and hot indignation" (BL 3:41-49). (24) Los in the foregoing lines subtly constructs a Miltonic hell, for in Blake's description there is "no light from the fires" in the abyss, where flames "roll round [as a vortex] ... on all sides making their way / Into darkness," a recall of the furnace-like "Dungeon" in Book One of Paradise Lost (61-63), in which "on all sides round ... flames / [emit] No light, but rather darkness visible" (my emphasis).
Later in Book One of Paradise Lost (180-83) Hell is "void of light," except for "livid flames," and Blake alludes to these Miltonic spaces in Jerusalem (13:44-46), where the hellish "Void" as a "land of darkness flamd but no light." Such Miltonic imagery interested Blake, and thus in America (4:8-11), issued in 1793, "heat but not light" went through the "murky atmosphere," while in The Book of Urizen (5:15-18), 1794, "Fires pour thro' the void on all sides," though there is "no light from the fires, all was darkness [visible] / In the flames of Eternal fury." Earlier in the environs of a Miltonic hell in The Book of Urizen (4:41-49, 5:1-2), amid "sulphurous [sic] smoke," "enormous forms of energy" in "living creations appear'd / In the flames of eternal fury"--apropos of Blake's wrathful "Tyger, burning bright" in flagellating stripes of fire, signifying the afflictions of Morality (my emphases).
In "The Tyger," when the stars throw down their "spears" at the emergence of dawn, they concomitantly water heaven with their "tears," language that in part resonates Milton's imagery, wherein "Pearls of dew" are the "presaging tears" of "sad morn" in Milton's An Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester (43-45), while in initial lines in Book Five of Paradise Lost (1-2) "Morn ... in th' Eastern Clime / Advancing, sow'd th Earth with Orient Pearl" (after Milton's Satan flees such an impending dawn, at the end of Book Four). Later, Milton's Adam in joy is "dew'd in tears" of "grief" in Paradise Lost (12.373), while in The Four Zoas (1.10:20, IX. 127:27, IX. 130:18) Blake refers to "pearly" and "dewy tears." Though in a poem to Mrs. Butts, wife of Blake's patron, Blake speaks of a benign "Fairy ... Weeping tears of morning dew" (E 517), the dews of dawn are not inevitably a constructive symbol in Blakean allegory. Pertinently, in Book Five in Paradise Lost (743-46) Satan's devilish warlike Host, "innumerable as the [flaming'] Stars of Night," are compared to the innumerable watery "Stars of Morning," defined by Milton as seminal "Dew-drops which the [rising] sun / Impearls [like tears] on every leaf and every flower." Blake expressly utilizes Milton's foregoing phrasing in Night the Ninth of The Four Zoas (127:10-15), where at the coming of "morning dew," occasioned by the "nourishing sun," "birds" and "beasts rise up & play" in the ascending "beams" of solar light, where "every flower & every leaf rejoices" (my emphases).
Parenthetically, it should be noted that in Blake's design of Night Thoughts 482, executed after "The Tyger" was written, it is queried: "What Hand" and "What Arm" constructed the universe and "bowl'd" starry flaming "orbs" through the "dark profound," stars that are "Numerous as glittering gems of morning dew." (25) The act of creation in Night Thoughts 482 makes the horrible dark vacuum "smile," and to Edward Young's text of Night Thoughts 482 Blake drew a compassionate (slightly smiling?) Christ, an artificer among his global spheres: numerous as morning dew. (26) Blake's Christ in the penultimate stanza of "The Tyger" potentially is identified as the creator of this beast in the starry heavens: "Did he [Christ] smile his work to see?" (27) Such affirmative speculation relates to the God of Genesis (2:2), who ended "his work" on the sixth day of Creation, while earlier in Genesis (1:30) "the beast of the earth after his kind" was created in the "evening and the morning": and "God saw everything he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (28) (my emphases).
There are other paradoxes relative to Blake's arcane reconstructions of Milton's texts. An early Blakean surmise in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (pls. 5-6), composed before "The Tyger" was written, addresses the fact that "in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan," relative to the fact that in chapter one of Job Satan proposes testing Job's moral credentials. In Book Five of Paradise Lost (690-91) Satan in irony is called the "great Messiah," and, hence, in The Marriage moral "Reason [i.e., Satan] is call'd Messiah," at which it "appear'd to Reason as if Desire" (Christ as Blake's True Messiah, symbolizing Imagination) "fell & formed a heaven on what he stole from the [chaos of the] Abyss." Blake's passage in The Marriage receives further credence in Jerusalem 54, where Christ (like Milton's cast-out Satan) will "build a World of Phantasy" in the forms of fiery constellations on the "Great Abyss! / A world of Shapes in craving lust & devouring appetite" (such as the ravenous "Tyger" that explores the deeps). (29)
Despite the fact a Proverb of Hell in The Marriage (pl. 9) advises that "The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction," such phrasing is given a decided Miltonic focus by Blake in Night the Second of The Four Zoas (25:1-16), where satanic Urizen's "tygers of wrath" call "the horses of instruction from their mangers." Consequently, when Urizen's "tygers" of Passion put on the tingling "harness" of the Horses of Intellect, a planetary desert materializes, an act that creates a Miltonic hell. Blake's passage in Night the Second of The Four Zoas initiates disintegration, when Urizen's "tygers of wrath" in assuming Intellect (Moral Reason) create a repressive universe, wherein "the Moon fled with a cry [and] the Sun fled with streams of blood / From Albion's Loins ... & the stars of heaven fled." (30) In Blake's perception, when fiery Passion is subjected to the domesticated Instructions of Morality, a desert wasteland is constructed upon the abyss--thus "Petrifying all the Human Imagination [the starry Jewels of Thought that revolve in the Mundane Shell/Brain] into rock & sand" (my emphasis).
Blake's above language clearly is Miltonic, for in The Book of Urizen (18:9-15) Man's division is symbolized by the appearance of the "first female" (associated by Blake with "Sin" in Paradise Lost), at which the "eternal myriads"--stars as Milton's devilish Hosts of Heaven in Paradise Lost (1.322)--in "Wonder, awe, fear, [and] astonishment, / Petrify," forming a "wilderness of Sin"--as mentioned in Exodus (16:1, my emphasis), an immense desert waste. Psalms (106:14) clarifies that the Israelites "lusted exceedingly in the wilderness," and Blake, hence, converts such topography into a pun (a sinful wilderness)--and transfers this desert-space to the starry voids, which in turn he associates with Milton's hell. (31) In Urizen (19:1) "They [Milton's devils in hell] call'd her [Sin as the separated female] Pity, and fled" into the darkness of night, reiterating Book Two in Paradise Lost (754-61), where at the appearance of Sin "All th' [stellar] Host of Heav'n" are "seiz'd" in "amazement" (petrified): thus these Devils "recoil'd afraid / At first, and call'd me Sin, and for a Sign / Portentous held me" (language Blake specifically repeats in Milton 12/13:36-41, E 106). Blake also adapts Milton's imagery in Jerusalem (59:2-7), where warlike Hosts of Heaven "Petrify / Around the Earth," to become the terrible starry "Veil of Vala" (the Teutonic mother of death, associated by Blake with Sin, who is the mother of Death in Paradise Lost). In Blake's view such a separating "Veil" of Moral Law must be rent, if a compassionate New Vision of Forgiveness is to occur, reuniting the Male and Female (forming a masculine-dominated Androgyne) (32) (my emphases).
Blake was engrossed with the mysteries of the Miltonic heavens (which he transforms into a hell, where the "Tyger" wanders). Book Eight of Paradise Lost (64-84) observes that the heavenly "Book of God" reveals "wond'rous Works," (33) and, accordingly, in Night the Second of The Four Zoas (32:7-8, 33:16-18) "wondrous work arose / In sorrow & care." In Book Eight of Paradise Lost God as a "great Architect / Did wisely to conceal ... His secrets" of the celestial universe, (34) and the "laughter" of this God in Book Eight of Paradise Lost resounds upon the voids, in amusement of foolish astronomers in their attempt to "calculate [the intricate movements of] the Stars" (my emphasis). (35) The laughter of Milton's deceptive God in Book Eight of Paradise Lost, by Blake's well-focused precision, echoes directly upon the ears of Urizen's "tygers of wrath" in Night the Second of The Four Zoas (24:9-15, 25:1-6), beasts that have turned the heavens into a sinful Desert Wilderness, while a few pages later in Night the Second (29:8-10) Blake's "Architect divine" (satanic Urizen as Milton's godly "great Architect") "Unfolds" the secret "plan" of his "wondrous" heavens, imagery emulative of Book Seven in Paradise Lost (93-97), where "secrets" might "unfold" the complexity of God's extensive celestial "Empire," to Blake's reckoning an Evil Empire (my emphases). Appropriately, Blake in a redemptive passage in The Marriage (pl. 22) declares that "Empire is no more! And now the lion & wolf shall cease," language also repeated in America (6:15).
Blake in irony appropriates Milton's cosmic imagery in plate 4 of The Book of Urizen (24-33), where Urizen's "books" of "metals" (molten stars cast about the voids) contain "the secrets of wisdom," where Urizen will "unfold" his "darkness," the "ninefold darkness" of a gloomy hell mentioned in plate 3 of Urizen (1-9), and Blake in plate 5 of Urizen illustrates Urizen in the act of unfolding his mammoth Book of Chaos. Thus Blake in The Book of Urizen (3:9) encloses devilish Urizen as God in a "ninefold" night, allusive to Book Two of Paradise Lost (434-36, 645), where Milton's devils are enfolded and locked in a spherical "prison" that "immures us round / Ninefold," for the Gates of Hell are "thrice threefold" enforced, "gates [in part composed] of burning Adamant / Barr'd over ... [to] prohibit all egress" (my emphases).
Urizen in Blake's above context is Milton's Satan, confined to hell, and at the "ruin" of the "once glorious heaven" in Night the Sixth of The Four Zoas the beaming stars become "rocks" circulating in the darkness. It is pertinent that among the starry rocks of Blake's "mind world" in Night the Sixth of The Four Zoas (70[1st]:31, 45) are found "the forms of tygers & of Lions, dishumanized men" surrounded by a petrified Desert of Stars, a Wilderness of Sin (my emphases). Although Blake's roaming "Tyger" that circulates in Night the Sixth of The Four Zoas (70[1st]:4-18 and E 835) is chronicled as one of the starry "wonders" of heaven, "once ... [Urizen's] brightest joy," this striped beast relapses into one of the "Ruind Spirits" of Milton's hell, wandering among the "terrors of the Abyss." (36)
In Blake's text in Night the Sixth of The Four Zoas such "Moping" beast-constellations of the deeps as "mind spirits" in "burning dungeons" are seen "in / Fetters of red hot iron" (chains of stars), melancholy sub-lunar spaces. Accordingly, Blake's fallen starry configurations suffer "pang," "throb," "convulsion," and "sickening woes," and Blake perseveres in his Miltonic theme in Night the Eighth of The Four Zoas (102:1-13, E 374), in which "Lions or Tygers or Wolves," degenerating into "monsters of the Elements," return to their "beastial [sic] state" of war in the Chaos, as they "ravin / For senseless gratification," while their "visages ... Flatten ... & stretch out" on the dusty ground--becoming Milton's Serpent of Eden. These transformed carnivores "ravin / without the [sexual] food of life"--what Blake calls the "food of Eden" (M 15/27:15, J 69:18), allusive to Milton's deadly "intellectual food" of the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise Lost (9.764-68). Thus, these Blakean beasts deteriorate into "forms of woe" and "moping visages" (my emphases).
The above imagery in Night the Eighth of The Four Zoas also alludes to Book One in Paradise Lost (60-65), where "sights of woe" and spectrous "dolelful shades" are seen in the gloom of hell, and Blake in The Four Zoas envisions these awful voids (wherein the "Tyger" prowls) as Milton's "grim Cave" or "Lazar-house," mentioned in Book Eleven of Paradise Lost (477-86), in which the damned suffer "Colic pangs, "ghostly Spasm," "Convulsions," "moping Melancholy," and "Moon-struck madness." Blake analyzes these Miltonic environs earlier in America (b:12), where "dismal visions mope around the house," relative to Book Two of Paradise Lost (822-25) in which in a "dark and dismal house of pain" God binds Satan's "heav'nly Host / Of [ruined] Spirits." (37) Thus in America doleful astronomical forms appear "On chairs of iron, canopied with mystic ornaments / Of life [pulsating stars] by magic power condens'd; infernal forms art-bound," the earthly spaces of Westminster Abbey (where the famous dead are buried)--spaces Blake views as a heavenly-hell. (38) Such imagery reflects the creation of the sorrowing beast that Blake constructs with wondrous stellar "art" in "The Tyger" of Experience (my emphases).
In the confines of a Miltonic hell in Blake's Milton (28/30:1-28) "Passions with porches of ]molten] iron & silver" are formed, and these fiery pulsating veins emanating from the stars are fashioned by the Sons of Los (who elsewhere create the "Tyger" and the "Lamb" in Jerusalem 73). (39) Accordingly, in Milton 28/30 the Sons of Los produce "form & beauty around the dark regions of sorrow, / Giving to airy nothing [an unformed Specter] a name and a habitation / Delightful! with bounds to the Infinite putting off the Indefinite / Into most holy forms of Thought"--the immortal Outlines of Art (my emphasis).
Though in Milton 28/30 the Sons of Los create "form & beauty," they doubly place the "Tyger" in hell's habitat, for Blake's text residually alludes to Shakespeare's A Midsummer-Night's Dream (5.1.3-22), where Theseus, speaking of "seething brains ... shaping fantasies," concludes that "poets and madmen" see "more devils than vast hell can hold," in giving an "airy nothing / A local habitation and a name," since the "poet's [imaginative] eye" frames fearful "things unknown" in "the night." Hence, among Blake's well-defined Art Forms in Milton 28/30 fierce "Lion & Tyger" take "refuge in Human [Vitruvian] lineaments." Blake's "regions of sorrow" in Milton 28/30 also relate to Book One in Paradise Lost (60-65), where Milton speaks of hell as a "waste and wild, / A [burning] Dungeon horrible," spaces described as a "great Furnace," in which "sights of woe" are seen in "Regions of Sorrow." (Recall the manuscript of "The Tyger" [E 794], where the heart of Blake's beast is fetched from a "furnace deep," a heart troubled with "sanguine woe"; my emphases.)
Earlier, in The French Revolution (214-19), printed in 1791, written before the composition of "The Tyger," Blake mentions the imprisoned "millions of spirits immortal" in "ruins of sulphur": allusive to the "Millions of [ruined] Spirits" in Milton's hell, the "Myriads of immortal Spirits" subjected to "ever-burning Sulphur" found in Book One of Paradise Lost (608, 622, 69), (40) and Blake's phrasing in The French Revolution tenuously anticipates the creation of the fiery "Tyger" of Experience, because in Paradise Lost, among the sulfurous fumes of hell, are located Milton's cavernous "Regions of sorrow," fiery melancholy regions, where Blake subsequently in Milton (28/30:1-7) places his Tiger as a symmetrical "form & beauty" (my emphases).
Milton's hellish place of sulfurous fire in Book One of Paradise Lost (69-75) is "far remov'd" from "th' utmost Pole": "the utmost pole" (Blake's words) of the Universal Sphere that Los's reverberating "cry" shakes at the end of Europe (pls. 14 and 15, my emphasis), a work issued the same year as the Songs of Experience, 1794, and in Blake's passage in Europe, "Lions lash their wrathful tails," while fierce "Tigers couch upon the prey & suck the ruddy tide," bloody waters enlightened by an autumnal dawning warlike "sun [which] glow'd fiery red," referential to the September Massacres in revolutionary France. Blake composed "The Tyger" at Lambeth in 1792, documented by its placement in his Notebook, and he acutely was aware of this beast's evolving revolutionary ambiance. On 28 January 1794 the London Times cautioned that revolutionary France had been entirely "over-run with bipeded tigers, and two-legged wolves, and on 20 December 1794 the Times protested "The incessant howling of wolves and tygers [presumably on display], in a quarter-inch board caravan, at the Circus Turnpike Gate, in St. George's Fields," located near Blake's residence at Hercules Buildings in Lambeth. The Times was alarmed that "one of these ferocious animals" might escape their captivity--adding that "We want no foreign tygers" or "other [revolutionary] animals of prey in this country" (41) (Times emphases).
Los's "terrific Lions & Tygers" appear again at the end of Milton 49/42, where they "sport & play" in their harnesses--as they pull the apocalyptic wagons of the Vintage and Harvest at autumn. Such language is relevant to Night the Ninth of The Four Zoas (136:16-24), where Blake speaks of the "sports of love & ... amorous play," an allusion to Book Nine of Milton's Paradise Lost (1042-55), where "Love's disport" and "amorous play" relate to the sinful actions of Adam and Eve, lovers who have devoured the intoxicating ripe fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (see also J 63:32-35, E 214) (my emphases).
Blake's Miltonic orientation pertaining to the "Tyger" also is evident in the fiery oil that flames about "cavernd rocks" (stars as fiery urns) in Night the Seventh of The Four Zoas (77:11-12, E 353), where is seen Albion's "plow of ages," Boote's starry wain," a place where "fierce ... lions / Howl in the burning dens," and where brute "tygers roam in redounding smoke / In forests [of the night]." Despite the fact Los in Night the Seventh of The Four Zoas (E 839) begins to "hew" (or carve) the unshaped "cavernd rocks of Dranthon" (Druidic stars of the Zodiac) into "sweet forms," "forms of beauty" that are "sublime," envisioned as golden ornaments (constellations), (42) Blake's imagery, once more, places his "Tyger"-beast in Milton's hell, for Blake's allusion extends to Book Two in Paradise Lost (883-91), where hell's portals "like a Furnace mouth / Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame" in revealing the "secrets of the hoary deep." Blake composed "The Tyger" while living in smoke-ridden Lambeth, and the famous Botanical Gardens at Lambeth Marsh, near Blake's residence at Hercules Buildings, were removed in 1789 because dense smoke from the area constantly enveloped the plants. Appropriately, in Milton (6:14-17) "Lambeths Vale" is overwhelmed by "Dark gleams" from a "Furnacemouth" (cf. J 73:53-54, E 229), for "The Surrey hills glow like clinkers of the furnace" in "Lambeth's Vale / Where Jerusalems foundation began," a holy place that has fallen into the depths of hell (43) (my emphases).
Blake's above imagery pertaining to the smoky deeps of space also is audited in The Marriage (pls. 18, 19), in which the "sea fled away in clouds of [redounding] smoke": from the red hot furious eyes of "crimson fire" that belong to a satanic Leviathan, a dreadful creature undulating among the "waves," his "forehead ... divided" into stripes like that of a "tygers forehead." (44) (Recall the tiger's "eyes of fury" rolling about the voids in "The Tyger.") Relevantly, Blake returns to the Miltonic imagery of smoke and fire in The Four Zoas (VIIb.96:1-20, 27, E 363), where a "Lion raging in flames" and a cruel "Tyger in redounding smoke" wander among "seven Diseases," apocalyptic plagues held in "store houses in secret places" (cf. BU 4:30, 50, E 72) (my emphases).
The "Tyger" wanders about the cosmic brain, and Blake word-plays on this bio-astro concept in reference to Milton's Eve, pertinent to Book Four of Paradise Lost (799-809), where Satan, "Squat like a Toad" at Eve's ear, seeks by "devilish art to reach / The Organs of ... [Eve's] ... Fancy." (45) Such "devilish art" is mentioned by Blake in The Four Zoas (VIII. 105:21, E 378, my emphasis), (46) and in this context Blake visualizes Eve's fanciful Brain as the Womb of Night. As Blake knew, the deceitful words of Milton's Satan echo in the winding canals of Eve's ear, wherein Satan hopes to "forge" (Milton's word) in the dark chambers of Eve's mind sexual "Illusions ... [and] Phantasms," to "taint / Th' animal Spirits that from pure blood arise." Milton's pure "animal Spirits" are the Vital Spirits of Medieval physiology, spirits generated in the heart and then "brought up to the brain" (as noted in Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621, Particle I, Section I, Member 2, Subsection 2). (47) Blake touches upon this issue in Night the First of The Four Zoas (1.10:11-12), where "Luvah and Vala ... flew up from the Human Heart / Into the Brain," an act that anticipates Man's fall from grace.
Satan's calculating and "persuasive words" that circulate in Eve's brain-womb in Paradise Lost are "impregn'd [made pregnant] / With Reason" (propagation analogous to Blake's unusual metaphor wherein reason forms a fetus, see Jerusalem 69:1-10, E 223). Blake utilizes such a concept in The Four Zoas (VIII.102.25-26, E 375), where "spirits" in hell "propagated the deadly words," which "the Shadowy Female" absorbed. Thus, in The Four Zoas (VI.73:37-39) Man's expansive "Ears" are described "As a golden ascent winding round the heavens of heavens" (reminiscent of the "heavens of heavens, with all their [starry] host" in Nehemiah 9:6), and thus within "the dark horrors" of these Blakean "Abysses" of the Mind wander the "lion or tyger or scorpion" (fiery constellations of the Mundane Shell). (48)
Additional Miltonic imagery relating to the evolution of Blake's beastly "Tyger" of the deeps is reflected in Blake's "youth & maiden" in Night the Ninth of Four Zoas (136:16-23, cf. M 27/29:3-7, E 124), where these sinful vegetative lovers in the heavens are visualized as "Human Grapes," personified ripe Fruits of the Harvest and Vintage that are placed on "skins of tygers or the spotted Leopard [animals sacred to Dionysus] or the wild Ass" (an estrous biblical beast snorting with desire in Jeremiah 2:24).
Blake's fruitful lovers as Human Grapes, exercising their desires in committing the sexual act, "revive," or if "dying" from such delusions (death by orgasm), they are "buried in cool Grots," the uterus womb-tomb of corporeal existence. Blake's generative "cool Grots" are borrowed from Book Four of Paradise Lost (257-59), where "the mantling vine [in Eden] / Lays forth her purple Grape and gently creeps / Luxuriant" over "umbrageous Grots and caves / Of cool recess" (my emphasis).
Blake further coordinates Miltonic space regarding his beastly "Tyger" in Night the Ninth of The Four Zoas (122:34-36), where the bones of the Tiger, a Specter of the Dead buried in earth's dust (see below), are subjected to a "fierce [whirl]wind round heaving," a vortex, where "rifled rocks [become[ suspended in the air by [stellar] inward fires" (my emphasis). (49) Earlier, in Night the First of The Four Zoas (16:6-7) Blake refers to "ragged wintry rocks / Justling together in the void suspended by inward fires," allusive to the "justling Rocks" of the Sea of Chaos in Book Two of Paradise Lost (1-18). Hence, once more, Blake's fiery Tiger is confined to the spaces of a Miltonic hell.
In continuing to explore Milton's hell in Night the Sixth of The Four Zoas (70[1st]:18-31, E 347), Blake's beasts are subjected to enforced abstinence, among them "tygers & ... Lions," "where multitudes were shut / Up in the solid mountains & in [rifted] rocks which heaved [pulsated] with their torments." These ruined "spirits" in The Four Zoas are "let loose from reptile prisons" (the grave), and, as a result, they wind out of "mountains filld with groans," an allusion to the fallen Legions of Satan in Paradise Lost (6:648-61), where Satan's starry Hosts, at first "Spirits of purest light," now lie as "sinning" devils in dire "pain." Milton's travailing devils in this text utter a "dolorous groan" (cf. FZ 111.44:6-18, E 329) in their "Long struggling underneath, ere they could wind [as a vortex] / Out of such a prison," hell's jail, where they are "buried deep" under the "weight of Mountains" (50) (my emphases).
Additional Miltonic imagery is exploited by Blake in Night the Ninth of The Four Zoas (122:26-41), where the "Tyger" is allegorized as a fallen Angel in hell. In this sequence "Each speck of dust" from the "Earths center" regenerates, at which "Wild furies [come forth] from the tyger's brain & from the lions Eyes / And from the [castrated] ox & [the lustful] ass come moping terrors," for "every species / Flock to the [last] trumpet," creatures "numerous as the leaves of autumn." (51) Blake's phrasing alludes to Book One of Paradise Lost (301-3), where the Legions of Satan, as ruined and fallen "Angel Forms," (52) lay "intrans't / Thick as Autumnal Leaves that strow the Brooks / In Vallombrosa." In Europe (13:6-7) the "Yellow ... leaves of Autumn," subjected to violent winds, swirl like a vortex "thro' the wintry skies," wherein Newton's Last "Trump," echoing the "last trump" of I Corinthians (15: 52-53), in an "enormous [pestilential] blast," instead of signaling Resurrection, ironically causes the "myriads of [Milton's fallen] Angelic hosts" to seek "their graves [in an act of grave-ity]; / Rattling their hollow bones" in the center of the earth (my emphases).
In Night the Ninth in The Four Zoas (118:14-16), among "hidden abysses" in the heavens, "Wherever the Eagle has Explord or Lion or Tyger trod," appear "Comets of the night or stars of asterial day," orbed spheres that "Have shot their arrows or long beamed spears in wrath & fury." (53) Blake's "asterial day" relates to the beams of the sun, a solar sphere described by Milton as a "diurnal Star" in Paradise Lost (10.1069). At the sound of the Last Trumpet in The Four Zoas the "Tyger," along with other redeemed entities, "Start forth ... into [the spiritual] flames of mental fire," for (emerging from hell) they have been transformed miraculously into holy fiery Cherubim(!), traditionally associated with Knowledge and the Fixed Stars of heaven, (54) and as renewing creatures of God's compassionate kingdom, they are seen "Bathing their Limbs in the bright visions of Eternity" (FZ IX.119:16-24, see also FZ IX.118:17-19, E 387). Blake's foregoing description evinces a supplementary Miltonic connotation, for Blake's rejuvenated "Tyger" arises "while the trumpet sounds <Awake ye dead & come / To Judgment>," and this beast regenerated emerges from the "clotted gore" of hell, relative to Milton's Samson Agonistes (1725-28), a work to which Blake frequently alluded, where a dead body, "soak't in ... blood," is bathed "from the stream / With lavers pure," while "cleansing herbs wash off / The clotted gore" (my emphases).
With some cognizance of the genesis and evolution of Blake's Miltonic "Tyger," it is now proper to assess the Redemption and Judgment of this sublime beast. Shortly following the above events in Night the Ninth of The Four Zoas (IX.124:16-21) Blake's impassioned "tygers from the forests [of the night] & the lions from the [abstinent] sandy desarts" of the wild abyss organize their Experience, wherein they seize "the instruments of harmony" (beasts that play celestial harps) in order to intone the Music of the Spheres, (55) and these redeemed beasts "sing" a crucial "New Song" (FZ IX.135:29-30, 38-39) of Regeneration. There is intended irony in these lines, for those who sing a New Song in Revelation (14:3-4) are the Four Beasts, the Elders, and male virgins ("not defiled with women") "harping with their harps." (56) Blake's beast of burning desire in "The Tyger," however, is a sexual symbol of concupiscentia carnis.
The harps seized by Blake's lion and tiger in The Four Zoas are musical instruments taken from Revelation (14:1-6, 7:11), relating to those who Praise the Lord. Consequently, Blake's Tiger of Wrath sings his joyous New Song at the Harvest and Vintage, where he throws away the "spear" of war (signifying the enforcements of Chastity, for in Blakean allegory abstinence breeds wrath), (57) and this now-peaceful Beast of Passion at its cosmic anvil proceeds to "beat the [satanic] iron engines of destruction [Miltonic cannon mentioned in Paradise Lost 4.15-18] into [red hot] wedges" (58) (my emphasis), an act also pertinent to Isaiah (2:5), where the redeemed "shall beat their swords [of war] into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks" (biblically glossed as "scythes"--for harvesting succulent grapes of the Vintage). (59)
Though in The Marriage (pl. 8) "the lion, the tyger, [and] the horse ... watch the fruits" for the ripe moment at the autumnal Harvest, in Night the Third of The Four Zoas (39:1-10) the Divine "Fruition" is "obliterated"--when the reasoning Horses of Instruction call wrathful "lions to the fields of blood" and "rouze" passionate "tygers / Out of the halls of justice" (the zodiacal heavens), the dungeons or "dens ... [of the starry brain that] wisdom framed / Golden and beautiful," since before this Moral Fall in Eden "liberty was justice & eternal science was mercy." The "fruition of the Holy-one" additionally is addressed by Blake in Jerusalem (4:17), a distinct borrowing from Milton, for Blake's passage alludes to the "freedom" extended to Adam and Eve in Book Three of Paradise Lost (124-32), where Milton speaks of "God-like fruition" and the heavens of "Mercy and Justice both." Importantly, Christ in Book Ten of Paradise Lost (77-78) will "mitigate" the sexual Sin of Adam and Eve, applying "Justice with Mercy."
Blake further acclimates his "Tyger"-mythos to Milton's epic of Paradise Lost in Jerusalem 55, where the Plow-"chariots of the morning" as ordered "Words" shining in the sky are identified as the "Seven Eyes of God" (the Seven Archangels who occupy the Rainbow and surround God's throne), "the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" in Revelation (5:6). Watchful mobile Spirits protect Blake's Milton in Milton (14/15:42, M 15/ 17:1-7), and in Jerusalem 55 these holy Word-epiphanies move across the voids as sublime "Chariots in array" (in proper cadences). (60) Appropriately, Blake's Divine Forms appear "Curbing their Tygers [i.e., sublime Passions] with golden bits & bridles of silver & ivory" (J 55:31-36, cf. also FZ VIIb.94:50, E 357). There is, however, a devilish force at work in the harnessing of such Energy, as amplified by an earlier passage in Jerusalem (42:57-69), in which the personified Cities of Albion as "Human majestic forms" sit upon their "Couches / Of death," stars as ordered Chariots of Time moving through the spaces of the heavens, and these Majestic Forms "curb their raging Spectres with iron curbs" (cf. J 37/41:23-27, E 183 and J 63:2-4, E 213). Blake's language, once more, cryptically alludes to and reconstructs Book Four of Paradise Lost (857-60), where Satan, "Overcome with rage" at the rebuke of God's Cherub, is "like a proud Steed rein'd ... Champing his iron curb" (my emphases).
Significantly, Blake's Chariot-Words, pulled by fierce "Tygers" in the hard furrows of the night sky in Jentsalem 55 proclaim: "Let the Human Organs be kept in perfect Integrity" (ironically reflecting satanic Urizen's "tigers of wrath" that in error put on the Harness of the Horses of Reason earlier in Night the Second of The Four Zoas). Blake also utilizes a secondary devilish Miltonic theme on the Matter of Words in Jerusalem 55, for Imaginative Man, in keeping his "Organs" in their "perfect Integrity," (61) is capable "At will [of] Contracting into Worms, or Expanding into Gods," for he is able to "Contract or Expand ... at will." Blake's imagery alludes to Book Six of Paradise Lost (596-97), where diabolical airy "Spirits" have the ability of "quick contraction," enabling them to move swiftly in executing their "aery purposes" (my emphases).
Blake word-plays on the above Miltonic subject in an earlier plate in Urizen (3:36-39), in which "The will of the Immortal expanded / Or contracted his all flexible senses"--for at this stage of Creation "Death was not" and "eternal life sprung" (i.e., before the termination of the Age of Gold, whose end was caused when Sin brought forth Death into the world). Blake in Night the Second of The Four Zoas (34:19-12) observes that Man's "flexible senses" have the aptitude of "Contracting or expanding ... At will," and, hence, "Los & enitharmon" (Adam and Eve, Sol and Luna) are capable of "Contracting or expanding their all flexible senses," wherein they can occupy the center of "flowers small as a honey bee" or (as they please) "At will ... stretch across the heavens [as airy spirits] & step from star to star": going from center to circumference (62) (my emphases).
Such a Miltonic capability relates to Blake's well-ordered Words in the final passages of Jerusalem (98:35-40), where "Every Word & Every Character [on fiery Chariots in Array] / Was Human according to the Expansion or Contraction, the Translucence [dilated brightness] or [obscure condensed] Opakeness of [Man's] Nervous fibres." (63) Blake's language, once more, relates to Milton's satanic forms of "fluid Air" in Book Six of Paradise Lost (349-53), where such Spirits expand or contract at will--"as they please," and they "Limb themselves" in "shape or size," as "likes them best, condense [as opaque nerves] or rare [as translucent light]" (64) (my emphases).
Significantly, one of the holy Human Words revolving across the heavens in Ordered array in Jerusalem (98:31-45) is Blake's fiery "Tyger," a stellar beast on his way to redemption. In Blake's text the "starry & flaming" Tiger, and all "Living Creatures," seek "new Expanses" of "Space" and "Time"--"according to the wonders Divine / Of Human Imagination." In the foregoing passage in Jerusalem Blake also speaks of the "all tremendous unfathomable Non Ens / Qf Death" (65) (my emphasis), an imaginative life force expressed "in regenerations terrific [signified by sublime Tigers] or complacent [peaceful little Lambs] varying"--each in their own respective energy (my emphasis; cf. M 25/27:43, E 122). Blake's curious phrasing on Matter and Spirit alludes to Milton's At a Vacation Exercise in the College (59-66), a poem from which Blake frequently borrowed. Milton in adapting scholastic logic to his poetic purpose calls attention to the mysterious "Ens" as the "Father of Predicaments," wherein "Substance" (i. e., matter) is unknowable except in terms of its Secondary Accidents--expressed by Space, Time, Action, and Passion (Milton's emphasis). (66)
Blake's "Tyger" burning bright in the hellish forests of the night in Experience occupies revolving New Heavens in the terminal lines of Jerusalem, and in concluding the assessment of Milton's influence on "The Tyger," it is suitable to turn to A Vision of The Last Judgment (E 555), where Blake speaks of the "the Imaginative Image" that "returns" by the "seed of Contemplative Thought," "the Fiery Chariot of ... Contemplative Thought" (E 560), relative to Milton's "fiery-wheeled throne" that belongs to "The Cherub Contemplation" in Il Penseroso (53-54). Blake early on in "then She bore Pale desire" (447:56-58), noted that "Contemplation" (i.e., Imagination) teacheth knowledge truly how to know and Reinstates him on his throne," a throne "once lost how lost I'll tell" (because of the sinful disobedience of Adam and Eve, in eating the Fruit of Knowledge).
In A Vision of The Last Judgment, however, the Redeemed "no longer" talk of "what is Good & Evil ... puzzling themselves in Satans [Maze del.] Labyrinth" (E 562), a revision of Book Two of Paradise Lost (555-65), in which those "in thoughts elevate ... reason'd high / Of Providence," and found "no end, in wand'ring mazes lost, / [for] Of good and evil much they argu'd." Though in Milton (2:16-21) the poet "Milton [preoccupied with moral strictures] ... walked about in Eternity ... pondering the intricate mazes of Providence" (my emphasis), in A Vision of The Last Judgment (E 562) the Inhabitants" of "Paradise" appear "walking up & down to Conversations concerning Mental Delights," no longer "talking of what is Good & Evil," for they "are Conversing with Eternal Realities as they Exist in the Human Imagination" (my emphasis).
Although the "Tyger" initially is constructed by Milton's Satan, this fiery beast of Experience, ultimately, is handed over to Blake's Christ, and thus in A Vision of The Last Judgment (E 555) "Eternal Forms" (such as the "Tyger") are harbored "in the Divine body of the Saviour," identified as "The Human Imagination," whereat "the Temporal" is thrown off. Hence, Blake's "Tyger" in Jerusalem (98:28-45) "walked to & fro in Eternity as One Man," the compassionate Body of Christ (which contains all things: Anthropos). As Blake clarifies in the above passage, the "Tyger" and other beasts "Humanize" at salvation, (67) "according to fitness & order." Blake in the early pages of Jerusalem (5:18-20) hoped he could "open the immortal Eyes of Man inwards into the World of Thought into Eternity / Ever expanding in the bosom of God, the Human Imagination," and Blake declared in The Laocoon (E 273), his final pronouncement on Art and Science, that "The Eternal Body of Man is The [HUMAN] IMAGINATION. / God himself," "The Divine Body ... JESUS we are his Members (cf. Ephesians 5:30). A holy place where Human Organs and ordered Words are kept in their Perfect Integrity. In The Four Zoas (IX. 126:6-11) Blake praises "The Human Form Divine"--a form that in Moral error was "Thrown down" from its "high Station / In the Eternal heavens of Human Imagination" (my emphasis). Once again, Blake's imagery is Miltonic in ambiance, relative to Book Three of Paradise Lost (297-301), which speaks of "the tongue of Angels" that "may lift / Human Imagination" to the "highth [sic] / Of Godlike Power" (my emphases).
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(1.) All citations to Blake are taken from The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake, ed. David V. Erdman, revised edn. (New York: Anchor, 1988). Standard abbreviations of Blake's works are used in the citations. Quotations from Milton, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from Paradise Lost and from Paradise Regained, the Minor Poems and Samson Agonistes, ed. by Merritt Y. Hughes (New York, 1937), 2 vols.
(2.) See Martin Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1981), 2 vols. For an accurate differentiation of these animals, see Thomas Bewick's illustrations in A General History of Quadrupeds, 1792 (lynx, page 212; ounce, page 195; tiger, page 186).
(3.) By contrast, in one terrible sequence in Blake's macro-micro allegory, generative Females have "circumscribed the [Mundane Shell] brain" and "pierced it through ... with a golden pin" (J 57:41-43), the revolving Platonic Spindle of Destiny that rules the lives of gods and men (my emphasis).
(4.) Los is considered both good and evil in Blake's allegory, and in Jerusalem (27:22-24) "cruel Og" (associated with Los and the constellation Orion) and Rahab (Blake's Whore of "Babylon") with "Moral & Self-righteous Law ... Crucify in Satans Synagogue!"--the "synagogue of Satan" mentioned in Revelation (2:9), which Blake envisions as the starry heavens. The "Kingdom of Og is in Orion," while "Sihon is in Ophiucus [sic]," and these huge constellation-forms to Blake symbolize the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (M 37/41:49-51); for Og, the last of the Hebraic giants of Rephaim, was located in the north of the Holy Land, while Sihon was located in the south.
(5.) The Lynx as a starry form was placed in the heavens by Johannes Hevelius in Firmamentum Sobiescianum, published in 1687, a constellation delineated as that of a tiger-like beast, and star maps of the period continued to depict this nocturnal animal in a tiger-like configuration (rather than that of the short-tailed Lynx). The Lynx constellation as a lynx-like animal first appears in Johann Elert Bode's Uranographia (Berlin, 1801). The circumpolar Lynx, burning faintly bright in the night, precedes Ursa Major, the Big Dipper/Bear envisioned as the Starry Plow of Bootes, identified as the "Plow in the northern corner / Of the wide universal field" in The Four Zoas (xx.125:1-22). Blake (as his own addition) illustrated the Bear/Plow of Bootes in his designs to Milton's II Penseroso, where the poet Milton may "sit and rightly spell ... every Star" in the heavens (E 685).
(6.) The Sons of Los are assisted by "innumerable multitudes" that Blake borrows from Luke (12:1). Blake was fascinated by the divine and diabolical aspects of Creation, and in Jerusalem (35:1-6) these "innumerable multitudes of Eternity" belong to the forgiving "Divine hand" of Jesus, though in a later passage in Jerusalem (89:56-62) such "multitudes innumerable" unite with "Antichrist" (my emphases).
(7.) Tarandus was first formed by Pierre Charles Le Monnier in 1736, though unmentioned by modem astronomers. For additional aspects of Blake's astronomical symbolism, see Paul Miner, "Blake and the Night Sky III: Visionary Astronomy," Bulletin of Research in the Humanities 84 (1981 ): 305-36.
(8.) David Hartley in Observations of Man conjectured that "the Art of alphabetical Writing" was "communicated miraculously by God to Moses at Sinai." See David Hartley, Observations on Man, 1749, two volumes in one, Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints (Gainesville, Florida, 1966) 1: 308. Blake engraved Hartley's portrait for an edition of his work, issued in 1791.
(9.) Milton in Book Ten of Paradise Lost (312) also characterized the bridge reaching from hell to earth as a "work" of "wonderous Art." In Night the First of The Four Zoas (1-9:9-14) Blake's Eternal Female, a moony "daughter of Beulah," took "an atom of space [a void which is a womb] & opend its center / Into Infinitude," and she "ornamented" this starry universe with "wondrous art" (my emphasis), for Blake's Center has expanded into a Circumference. Compare also the hellish "wondrous art" and "soft affections," created by the Eternal Female in Night the First of The Four Zoas, with the sinewy "soft affections" discovered in Los's fiery furnaces in Jerusalem (9:26-27), molten affections that "Condense" beneath Los's "hammer" into "forms of cruelty."
(10.) The Latin word caelum (literally, chisel), carries with it the connotation of "engraved," and the emblem book Parthenia Sacra (1633, page 85) points out that the heavens are "all en graved over, because the Zodiack" is "cut, as with a chisel," heaven thus being "fully stockd with beasts, carved" or "engraved."
(11.) Blake speaks of the "arts of Love & Hate" and the astronomical "Labyrinths of wayward Love" in "The Mental Traveller" (E 485:81-84). Blake also took note of John Caspar Lavater's Aphorisms on Man, 1788, wherein Lavater observed that the Contraries of "Love and hate [as virtue and vice] are the genius of invention," a remark which to Blake constituted "True Experience" (E 599).
(12.) Stellar "spears" of night are transformed into weeping "tears" of dawn in "The Tyger," relevant to Blake's "Introduction" and "Earth's Answer," the first two poems in the canon of Experience, where "Starry Jealousy" in "selfish fear" keeps the "den" of Earth "Cold and hoar," a God "Weeping" wintry star-chains in the dungeon of the universe. Blake experimented with such word-play in his poem about "Fayette," where "tears / Of Pity" are exchanged for "selfish slavish fears" and "the links of a dungeon floor" [E 862].
(13.) See Everyman's Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology, compiled by Egerton Sykes (London: Dent, 1952) 128.
(14.) In Night the Fourth of The Four Zoas (52:15-19, 53:1-4, 15-18), "Los [in his affirmative aspect] with terrible hands siezed [sic] on the Ruind Furnaces of Urizen" (a Jehovah-god), where Los "builded them anew ... in the Darkness," and in this passage the forceful "blows" of Los's hammer on his anvil "Petrify ... many a planet."
(15.) In Milton (35/39: 1-4) "War & Hunting" degenerate into "Fountains of bitter Death," destroying "Brotherhood," a passage reflecting Paradise Lost (12.22-32) in which Man's "fraternal state" is destroyed by "Hunting" and "War."
(16.) In the design of Jerusalem 37/41 the figure Giant Despair (created by Unbelief) is a satanic Specter of Reason who must be "cast ... into the Lake" of fire (cf. M 39/44: 10-11, E 140), for Blake concluded that Man's spectrous reasoning "Selfhood" was a "Satan," "altogether an Evil" (J52, prose, E 200), possibly reflecting Emanuel Swedenborg's The Divine Love and Wisdom (par 114), annotated by Blake, which notes that the "selfhood of angels ... is evil."
(17.) Pertinently, Blake in a sketch of about 1780 illustrated Satan with a walking staff, where Satan explores the vast Chaos (see Butlin, pl. 112, text 102), and it should be noted that the Eternal Traveler in For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise, circa 1826, is Satan. Though in Book Three of Paradise Lost (499-515) at "dawning light" Milton's Satan "turn'd thither-ward in haste" his "travell'd steps," wherein he "descries" the "Palace Gates" of Heaven, in irony Blake's Satan with his walking staff in Emblem 14 in The Gates of Paradise proceeds "Thro evening shades ... [to] haste away / [in order] To close the Labours of my Day," at which he (Satan) "did descry" the "Door of Death ... open ... in the Ground" ("Keys," nos. 13-15, E 269) (my emphases).
(18.) Coleman O. Parsons in "Blake's Tyger and Eighteenth-Century Animal Pictures," Art Quarterly 31 (1968): 308, speculates that in Copy Z of Songs of Innocence and of Experience (at the Library of Congress), Blake "apparently inserts two teeth in the open mouth" of the "Tyger"--emphasizing the beastliness of this Bengal carnivore. These fangs, however, upon careful reexamination of the original design probably are accidental. Kathleen T. Mang, then Curator of the Rosenwald Collection, at The Library of Congress, advised me in a letter in 1990 that the tooth-like "mark" on the lower jaw of the "Tyger" is "not at all clear," and Mang conjectured that the mark "may be just a fleck in the paint." This premise subsequently was confirmed by Clark Evans, Special Collections, Library of Congress.
(19.) Appropriately, in Jerusalem (89:29) the indefatigable wings of Blake's Satan "Spring upon iron sinews from the Scapulae & Os Humeri," the major bones of the shoulder.
(20.) Blake also turns to Milton's phrasing in Jerusalem (77:7-10), where "the Sun" of the corporeal universe is "rolld into an orb," while "the Moon faded into a globe," a calamitous event that subjected Man to the Fallen universe, causing Man's originally-expansive organs to "shrink up into a little root."
(21.) In The Book of Los (5:27-47) Los "seiz'd" the "infinite fires" (the stars of the abyss) and "fram'd" them into a flaming "Orb," the Sun-Heart of the universe, a "glowing mass" that Los "quench'd ... beneath the Deeps"--allusive to Erasmus Darwin's The Botanic Garden (I.ii. 189-92), where "a sparkling ingot" as a "glowing mass" hisses as it congeals among "Cold waves, immersed" (my emphasis).
(22.) In Milton (20/22:26) Milton as a fallen star is seen as "an electric flame" in "awful precipitate descent," a flaming "wintry globe" that "descends precipitant ... bursting [in sparks], / With thunders loud and terrible: so Milton's [spectrous] shadow fell / Precipitant loud thundering into the Sea of Time & Space" (M 15/17:44-46; my emphases).
(23.) In The Book of Los (4:20-22) Los "heaves / The black marble on high," crushing it into stellar "fragments"; contrast also The French Revolution (89), where Blake speaks of the "marble built heaven."
(24.) A crucial solecism, left unmended for many years by Blake, occurs in the fourth stanza of the engraved plate of "The Tyger," where the feet, which originally belonged to the tiger's artificer in the MS ("What dread ann & what dread feet"), become in the corrected version the "dread feet" of the bestial tiger, an alteration manifestly assimilating the members of the dread creator with the dread created (E 794).
(25.) In "The Tyger" Blake asks (depending on the stanza) what "immortal hand or eye" or "hand & eye" was/were capable of creating the flaming beast in the "distant deeps" of the night's darkness. Significantly, Blake in his original sketch for plate 14 to Job at the bottom of this design separately drew a miniscule emblem respecting his Art and Science (E 688, also see Butlin, pl. 773). Blake's cosmological emblem consisted of an engraver's iron pen, an emblematic Hand and Eye, and a circulating globe of the deep--abutted by two sets of quotation-like marks ("O"): marks simulating the vibrations of a ringing sphere. Blake's iconography conjecturally relates to Milton's ode On the Morning of Christ's Nativity (lines 119-29), where "the sons of morning sung" in joy (as in Job 38:7), while the "Crystal" planets, vibrating in the heavens "Ring out" the "melodious" Music of the Spheres.
(26.) In a companion design in Night Thoughts 483, Blake illustrated Christ with elemental Hands of Fire, forming stars as the ornaments of heaven, where these "fierce Flames" are "Arrang'd, and disciplin'd, and cloath'd in Gold." See William Blake's Designs for Edward Young's Night Thoughts, ed. John E. Grant, Edward J. Rose, Michael J Tolley, and David V. Erdman (Oxford, Clarendon, 1980), 2 vols.
(27.) Though in the first draft of "The Tyger" in the Notebook Blake essentially completed the poem, leaving the beast in the hands of a demonic creator, when Blake in the second phase of the poem associates the Tyger-maker with Christ he blatantly resorts to a Deus ex machina. Consequently, Christ in abrupt Prodigy is brought to the poem as the possible creator/ redeemer of the "Tyger." "The Tyger" is a cliff-hanger, for Christ is introduced in the poem at the last possible narrative moment: since the sixth and last stanza of the "The Tyger" is a coda of Sublime wonder, recapitulating the first stanza of the poem, wherein "Could" (capacity) in the last line of the first stanza of the poem pointedly contrasts with "Dare" (audacity) in the last line of the last stanza of "The Tyger." "The Tyger" thus ends on a "Dare."
(28.) When Blake replaced Satan with Christ in line 3 of the second stage of the MS of "The Tyger," such a sea-change presented an incongruity, for Blake's Christ (in replacing Milton's Satan) creates the "Tyger" at the advent of dewy dawn: Did/Dare "he [Christ] who made the lamb make thee [the Tiger] / [at the time] When the stars [of morning] threw down their spears [of night] / And waterd heaven with their tears"? However, since the members of the fiery beast in "The Tyger" had already been forged by Satan in the dark "forests of the night" in the first stage of the poem, it was necessary for Blake to rearrange the final lines of this second segment in the MS. Blake, hence, transferred the terminal distich on the weeping stars to the beginning of the stanza in question, and thus Blake's sentence becomes not "Dare he [Christ] who made the lamb make thee"? (at the time the stars threw down their spears at dawn), but: when (i.e. after) the stars threw down their spears, Did/Dare Christ laugh/smile in the dawning light on his creation? It further is important to note, in parsing the star-spear stanza of "The Tyger," that if one eliminates line 3 on Christ in the second phase of the manuscript and reinstates line 2 (i.e., keeping Satan as the creator of the "Tyger"), there is no discrepancy in the unities of time and action, for in this grammatical framework Satan, rather than Christ, at the coming of dewy morn potentially laughs/smiles on his night-creation. The conundrum of "The Tyger" is resolved by dawn, wherein this fierce beast, formerly encompassed by the "forests of the night," will see the light of morn as a born-again beast.
(29.) In The Book of Ahania (4:25-35), 1795, symbolic birds as starry Human Organs fly about the heavens," "shape on shape," among them "organs for craving and lust" (the winged phallus), described as Urizen's "army of horrors." These planetary bird-"shapes," the sexual "joys of eternity," "Winged" and "screaming," "flutter'd" in "vain," for they are captured in "Nets of iron," forged by an imperious Los, who in Blake's context is the blacksmith Hephaestus (builder of the classical heavens).
(30.) Blake's phrasing in this context is a revision of Revelation (6:12-17), where "the sun became black as sack-cloth of hair, and the moon became as blood," while the "stars of heaven fell unto the earth" as untimely (green) fruit.
(31.) Blake was familiar with Edmund Burke's famous Enquiry ... of the Sublime and Beautiful" (1759, 2nd edn.), where Terror and Sublimity are epitomized by "the lion, the tiger, [and] the panther" roaming a "gloomy forest" and a "howling wilderness" (page 66), and biblically-oriented Blake, who mentions this "howling wilderness" in Jerusalem (62:27), knew Burke's lines were based upon Deuteronomy (32:10), where those of the "desert land" and the "waste howling wilderness" were "the apple of ... [God's] eye" (my emphasis).
(32.) Contrast Blake's For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise--where the "frozen" (petrified) "Veil [of] the Mundane Shell" is "rent," a space where "the Dead [as spectrous stars] dwell" (E 268:18-22): the cosmic Womb of Night (my emphasis).
(33.) The Bible frequently refers to the "wondrous works" of God.
(34.) In Night the Second of The Four Zoas (24:5-8) devilish Urizen is calld the "great Work master," a deity who divides the starry bands of heaven, "influence by influence," an allusion to Book Three in Paradise Lost (696), which refers to God as the "great WorkMaster." Edmund Spenser in An Hymn in Honor of Beauty (lines 29-42) speaks of "this worlds great work maister," who on "earth" as well as in "heaven" lay up in "secret store" forms of "wondrous paterne." Francis Bacon also refers to God as the "great work-master" in Of the Advancement of Learning, a deity who in deliberate indifference to Man, according to Bacon, placed the "stars" in mysterious (secret) orbits. Blake cites the "first Edition" of Bacon's work (E 703), published in English in 1605.
(35.) Note also Psalms (2:4), where God who "sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision." Blake iconically alludes to Milton's lines on the mystery of the skies in the spiraling lines that wildly spread in circles across the plate of Milton 30/38, indicative of a Time-Space manifold--reflecting Book Eight of Paradise Lost (76-84), where the circling "Fabric of the Heav'ns" is "scribbl'd o'er, / Cycle and Epicycle, Orb in Orb," signifying the "quaint Opinions" of those that attempt to "frame" a "model" of the universe. See David Worrall, "Blake and the Night Sky I: The 'Immortal Tent,'" Bulletin of Research in the Humanities 84 (1981 ): 275.
(36.) Secretive Urizen as Milton's devious God in Night the Second of The Four Zoas serves as builder of the starry "Mundane Shell," and Blake's imagery alludes to a passage in Book Five of Paradise Lost (566-69), where "the secrets of another world" will "unfold" previously invisible dimensions to the sight: "The ruin of so many [fallen Archangels] glorious once / And petfe[c]t." Hence, Blake realigns Book Five of Paradise Lost in Night the Sixth of The Four Zoas (72:35-39), in which Urizen as this world's Great Architect laments: "O thou poor ruind world," a "horrible ruin once like me thou wast all glorious." Milton's divine "sovran Architect" (God) and heaven's golden "shining Globes," mentioned in Book Five of Paradise Lost (245-59), become, respectively, Blake's "Sovereign Architect" in Night the Fourth of The Four Zoas (49:1), while in Night the Seventh The Four Zoas (82:15-22, E 357-8) terrible "Plagues" are hidden in "shining globes" (Blake's phrasing)--envisioned by Blake as the deadly vaginal fruit hanging from the "living tree" of Mystery (a Tree of Death) (my emphases).
(37.) In Visions of the Daughters of Albion (2:36) the distant deeps of "night" are described as a "sickly charnel house," filled with the Specters of the Dead (my emphasis), while in America (9:2-9) the "eternal Wolf" (starry Lupus) and the "eternal Lion" (Leo Major) are envisioned as "punishing Demons," "howling before the caverns deep like [stretched] skins dry'd in the wind," dead animals as constellations nailed to the night sky with star-pins. Blake's imagery may recall Francis Bacon's Of the Advancement of Learning--where "stars" are "fixed in their orbs like nails in a roof." See The Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon, ed. John M. Robertson (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries P, 1970) 461.
(38.) Queen Cassiopeia's fiery golden chair, near the constellation Draco, is shown canopied in Albrecht Durer's famous design of the forty-eight Ptolemaic constellations. As an apprentice Blake sketched extensively the monuments in Westminster Abbey, and Blake's Dismal House of Pain finds its further allegorical justification in the Chapel of Henry vii, located in the east portion of Westminster Abbey, where a "comparative gloom" was "deliberately intended" by the chapel architects. According to Washington Irving, a contemporary of Blake, the "very wails" of Henry VII's Chapel were wrought with "universal [starry] ornament," and the stone ceiling of this Chapel with its magnificent tracery seemed, "by the cunning labour of the chisel, to have been robbed of its weight and density, suspended aloft, as if by magic." See Charles Hiatt, Westminster Abbey (London: G. Bell, 1902) 97-103. What Irving saw as heaven, Blake saw as hell.
(39.) As Contraries (see Blake's epigraph, E 7) the "mild" little Lamb with "Softest clothing wooly bright" in "The Lamb" of Innocence makes "the vales rejoice," while the "Tyger" of Experience, "burning bright," is clothed in flames in the deeps of heaven: though we see the outsides of the Lamb, we see the ghastly bloody insides of the "Tyger." In addition, Blake's fiery-striped beast may be envisioned as a sheep in tiger's clothing, for the "Tyger" of Experience at one level is the lamb on fire, symbolizing the "Wrath of the Lamb," as described in Revelation (5:13-16).
(40.) In The Four Zoas (VI.70[1st]:20-26, E 347) constellation forms are placed in a Miltonic hell, amid "burning dungeons" and "beds of sulphur," where "myriads" appear, "moping in the stifling vapours." Recall in The Marriage (pl. 17) that Blake himself is confined to a "hot burning dungeon" by his Evil Angel (nay emphases).
(41.) While living just off Leicester Square in 1782 Blake could have seen a magnificent Royal Tiger (stuffed) at the Leicester Museum. For extensive details on the Leverian Museum, see the European Magazine (January 1782): 17-22. In 1786 a "Noble He tiger," the "most beautiful of Quadrupeds," possessing a "vast variety of Stripes and striking Colours," was exhibited at Piccadilly near the Haymarket (Daily Advertiser, 3 January 1786)-not far from Blake's residence in Poland Street. It is appropriate, in view of Blake's great lyric on "The Tyger," that immediately to the east of Fountain Court (where Blake lived from 1821 to 1827, until his death) at Exeter 'Change in the Strand, a Bengal Tiger was exhibited. Tigers were exhibited at the 'Change until it closed in 1829, and an illustration of a tiger at Exeter 'Change is reproduced in M. Willson Disher, Pleasures of London (London: Hale, 1950) 126.
(42.) In Milton (2:7-10) it is in the Brain of Eden that the "Eternal Great Humanity Divine" (Christ) caused the starry "Spectres" of the Dead to take sweet forms / In [proportional] likeness to himself," and Blake speaks of the "sweet Outlines [of Art] / And beauteous Forms that Love does wear" in his annotations to Reynolds (E 637), for "all must love the human form" divine. In The Four Zoas (VIIa.90, E 370, E 757) Los, with immortal "bands divine inspired" in "the deeps," fashions the integuments of his creations, where he draws "a line upon the walls of shining heaven," to create a "permanent ... lovely form," an Art Form "inspired divinely human" with "just proportions" (FZ VII.98:25-41, E 370-71, 839). Los "unwearied" forms these divisions, a subtle allusion to Isaiah (40:28), where "the Creator ... fainteth not, neither is [he] weary." Cf. Milton (13/14:22-24, E 107), where "Elohim" (associated by Blake with Los) becomes "wearied [and] fainted" (my emphases).
(43.) Lambeth, as an industrial center, was populated with foundries, and Blake plays on this matter in Jerusalem (79:8), in which the "hills of Judea [where Jerusalem is located] are fallen ... into deepest hell [Hinnom]."
(44.) Blake in this imagery paraphrases the allegory of Revelation (13:2), where a "beast" rises up "out of the sea," a "beast ... like unto leopard," a dreadful creature who obtains "his power" from a "dragon."
(45.) In Tiriel (4:48-60, E 281) deceitful Tiriel is denounced for his various metamorphoses, such as a "lion," or "tyger," or "bright serpent," or "like a toad" that "would whisper" in the ear--all transformations of Satan as mentioned in Book Four of Paradise Lost.
(46.) Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene (3.7.21) also speaks of such "divelish arts" (an author who considerably influenced Milton and Blake).
(47.) Quoted from The Anatomy of Melancholy, eds. Floyd Dell and Paul Jordan-Smith (New York: Tudor, 1927).
(48.) Fiery stars as "swords & spears" revolve within the macrocosmic "Brain of Man ... & in his circling Nerves," for in the "Human Brain" the Prince of Light "& all his Hosts hang their immortal lamps" (FZ 1.11:12-17). Consequently, in The Four Zoas (VI.70[1st]:4-11) a "Universe of fiery constellations [turn] in ... [the] brain," a brain that belongs to the children of immortals, fallen offspring who wander about the "enormous wonders of the Abysses," among them wondrous "tygers & ... Lions."
(49.) Blake provisionally explores this Miltonic hell in a different segment of The Four Zoas (page 143, E 822), in which Enion (Eve) and her "scaly" demonic Dragon-paramour (Adamic Tharmas as Milton's Satan) are described as monstrous forms, where they copulate among "rifted rocks," a passage that Blake derives from Comus (517-18), which speaks of "dire Chimeras [Milton's emphasis] ... / And rifted Rocks whose entrance leads to hell." (The mythical Chimera was a monstrous female form of lion, goat, and scaly dragon.)
(50.) In Night the Third of The Four Zoas (44:6-18) Blake mentions the "Dolorous Groan" of rebirth, where winding "'human bones rattling together" appear "struggling to take the features of Man," language that recalls Book Six of Paradise Lost (658-70) in which Devils utter a "dolorous groan" as they "wind Out" of their "prison" in hell. Milton's "sinning" Spirits in this sequence are subjected to a terrible "Infernal noise," a clamorous place that Blake in turn associates with the whirling winds in the four quarters of heaven found in Ezekiel (37:1-12), where the "breath" of the "four winds" reanimates the dead bones of Man. In Night the Third of The Four Zoas these regenerating bones, in attempting to re-Humanize, cause a "crack across from immense to immense" (allegorically, a cosmic vagina-of-space), while a "universal groan of death" also is heard--ironically, a sounding birth-groan! In Milton (9:36-38) a "loud solemn universal groan / Was utter'd from the east & from the west & from the south / And from the north" (cf. M 35/39:31, E 135), pertinent to a passage in Milton's Samson Agonistes (1511-14), where a "universal groan" represents "Blood, death, an deathful deeds," "As if the whole inhabitation perish'd" (cf. FZ IX.132:1, E 400 and J 16:26-27, E 160) (my emphases).
(51.) Milton's lines, as Blake undoubtedly noted, were borrowed from Book Six of Virgil's Aeneid, where in hell the dead are viewed "multitudinous as leaves ... dropping in the forests at autumn's earliest frost." Blake thinks of Newton's blasting Trumpet of Gravity and of Angels fallen into the dust in his design to Night Thoughts 179, where men "as [falling] Autumn Leaves" (Edward Young's emphasis), beneath a nearly leafless tree, are like "Summers Dust," "Driven by the Whirlwind"--blasting winds that in Blake's illustration emerge from a spiral serpent-mouthed Trumpet blown by a descending nude male. In the text of Night Thoughts 179, which addresses existence "beyond the Grave," however, the "first Blast" (rather than the Last Blast of the Trump of Doom) causes such "Futurities" to vanish in air (my emphasis).
(52.) See Blake's Satan as a fallen "Angel form in America (b:2, E 58).
(53.) Although in The Four Zoas (IX.118:13-19, 123:16-21) the "Tyger" is pierced with "arrows" and "spears" radiating from the orbs of night and day, Blake's beast in this passage is permitted to enter the "Holy City" of Jerusalem, where "One Planet calls to another & one star enquires of another ... hark heard you not the [last] trumpet," at which these spheres with their beaming spears "see him whom they have pierced," and "They magnify themselves no more against Jerusalem." Blake's lines allude to Christ in Zechariah (12:7, 10), where the "inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves" against Christ's progenitors, for these "inhabitants ... shall look upon" the one "whom they have pierced" (see also John 19:37, Revelation 1:7, and Job 30:17).
(54.) In The Four Zoas (IX.122:26-33) Blake speaks of "the time of the end" (a phrase also used FZ 1.21 :9, E 3 12 and J 7:64, E 150), allusive to Daniel (12:2-4), where those who "sleep in the dust of the earth [like Blake's "Tyger"] shall awake ... to everlasting life," for "they that be wise [glossed as "teachers"] shall shine as the brightness of the firmament," shining as "stars for ever and ever." Thus at "the time of the end ... knowledge shall be increased." See also Blake's letter to John Flaxman, E 717-18.
(55.) Conversely, in Night the Eighth of The Four Zoas (101 [and]:43-48, 102:1-22) Blake's "Lions or Tygers or Wolves" as constellations in the heavens "Sound loud the howling music" of the Spheres, playing "harsh instruments of sound," allusive to Milton's At a Solemn Music (19-20) where "sin," which "Jarr'd against nature's chime," caused the Music of the Spheres to sound "with harsh din."
(56.) Blake earlier alluded to the harpers of Revelation in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (pl. 19).
(57.) Blake's celestial "Tyger" of Experience has an early phantom-presence in The French Revolution, where "wild raging millions ... wander in the forests [of the night], and howl in law blasted wastes" of abstinence (FR 227-40), a desert wilderness of rock and sand. The liberation that takes place in The French Revolution, however, occurs in order that sensual Honesty, which delights in morning light, "may sing [a new song] in the village, and shout [with joy] in the harvest, and woo in pleasant gardens." Blake's passage reflects Isaiah (51:3), where the "waste places" of the "wilderness" become "like Eden" and the sandy "desert like the garden," where is found "joy" and the "voice of melody."
(58.) Blake elsewhere in his allegory makes much of these destructive Engines; note Paradise Lost (6.571-90).
(59.) In Night the Ninth in The Four Zoas (IX. 132:3-4) Blake's Lion, like his singing Tiger, with renewed strength will reap the universe of grape-stars in joy, for this zodiacal Lion possesses "a brazen sickle & a scythe of iron hid / Deep in the South guarded by a few solitary stars." Shining Leo as a starry beast first appears high in the south at springtide, and, as this beast progresses across the heavens, he heralds the ripening fruits of the harvest. Leo's forequarters are known to astronomers as The Sickle--a configuration doubly defined by Blake as a "sickle & a scythe," the scythe-portion that represents the bold star-line of Leo Major's back, forming an elongated staff to wield the brazen Sickle.
(60.) In Night the Second of The Four Zoas (28:25-30) the fierce "Lions of [satanic] Urizen" (like Urizen's "tygers of wrath") facilitate the building of the nether heavens, and with their "hammers" at the anvil these Lions forge "bright masses" and "ordered spaces," where "red hot ... hizzing" stars emit bright "sparkles dire" (an allusion to Book Six of Paradise Lost 765-76)--becoming Words, as they are propelled "abroad into the dismal [eccentric] deep." Such Star-words "rend their way down many a league," the spaces of a Miltonic hell which extend "many a League" in Book Two of Paradise Lost (929) (my emphases).
(61.) Allusive to Job (2:3), in which Job is "perfect ... [in his] integrity." That Blake was aware of this specific passage is substantiated by his comments in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (pl. 5, E 34, cf. also pl. 17, E 40). Compare I Corinthians (10-24), which notes that there are "many members" functioning in "one body," and thus the "uncomely [sensuous] parts" of the body must also be assigned "abundant comeliness," for there must be "no schism in the body."
(62.) In Night the Sixth of The Four Zoas (73.12 and 74:1) the regenerated "fall or rise [contract or expand] at will," for "every one opend within into Eternity at will"--in which "the wing like tent of the Universe" is "drawn up or let down at ... will" (my emphasis). Compare also the elemental Cherubim of the "firmament" that "let down their wings" in Ezekiel (1:24-25).
(63.) Blake turns to the above Miltonic imagery in Jerusalem (34/38:48-54), where the human "bosom" as "a Universe expands, as wings / Let down at will around, and call'd the Universal Tent." Such Blakean imagery also relates to "The Golden Net" (E 859), where the " Wings" of the generative females--"when they chose"--are "let ... down at will [becoming opaque nerves] / Or made translucent" (rising upon the light of the atmospheres). Thus these "Virgins at the break of day" appear "Dazling [sic] bright before ... [Blake's] Eyes." In "The Golden Net" a "Net of Golden Twine," hung "upon Branches fine," signifies the nerves of generation, and thus in this poem Blake is reduced to a fetus, ultimately to be cast out into the atmospheres as a weeping newborn babe (my emphases).
(64.) The Miltonic concept of Contraction and Expansion additionally is noted in A Vision of The Last Judgment (E 565), where Blake declares that "he [Christ] who performs [loving] Works of Mercy ['Forgiveness of Sin'] in Any shape" is "Crucified" as a Criminal of Love, an inversion of Book One of Paradise Lost (423-39), in which Milton's devilish airy "Spirits," for "love or enmity," are "so soft / And uncompounded" that they can assume "what shape they choose." Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy mentions the belief that devils "can assume ... aerial bodies, all manner of shapes at their pleasures"--and "appear in what likeness they will themselves," See The Poems of John Milton, eds. John Carey and Alastair Fowler (London: Longmans, 1968) 487n.
(65.) The English theologian Ralph Cudworth in The True Intellectual System of the Universe, a popular work initially published in 1678, speaking of "Atomical physiology" (associated with Democritus), notes that "Plenum and Vacuum" (body and empty space) are designated as "Ens" and "Non-ens" (I quote from the 1837 American edition, page 58). Emanuel Swedenborg, Paracelsus, Boehme, and Erasmus Darwin, all of whom influenced Blake, also were fascinated by the ens.
(66.) Compare Jerusalem (95:9-10), which mentions the elemental "direful / Revolutions of Action & Passion."
(67.) Note that in Night the Second of The Four Zoas (24:1-5, 25:1-5) the Lion, Leopard, and Tiger have "Sublime distinct ... lineaments," representative of "divine human beauty" (my emphasis).
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|Title Annotation:||William Blake and John Milton|
|Publication:||Studies in Romanticism|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2008|
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