Tag Archive: Adam

In William Blake’s The Song of Los: Africa, Adam and Noah are an odd combination to put as contemporaries given that Adam is about 8 or so generations away from Adam acording to the bible (Adam father of Seth, Seth father of Enos, Enos father of Kenan, Kenan father of Malalel, Malalel father of Jared, Jared father of Enoch, Enoch father of Methuselah, Methuselah father of Lamech, and Lamech father of Noah). However, Noah and Adam have more in common in this work than one would think.

In this piece Adam, Noah, Moses, Abram, and Jesus are mentioned, however, the first images we see are of Adam “standing in the garden of Eden” and Noah “on the mountains of Ararat” (109). Placing Adam and Noah in this setting shows how they can be contemporaries. Adam in the garden of Eden is the first human creation, and thus the promise of the future. Noah in the mountain of Ararat, is in the setting where the Ark was rested. These mountains also symbolize redemption and a new cycle and a promise for a better future (with the slaughter of all the ‘bad’ people on Earth).Then when they see Urizen give his oppressive laws to the Nations: “Adam shuddered! Noah faded!” (109) This illustrates how Urizen is oppressing the creativity of such characters. Noah and his sons represent music, art, and poetry “three powers in man conversing with paradise” (or Adam perhaps) (LJ, K 609). Thus, Adam’s paradise is still able to be accessed through the tradition of art, or Los, and cannot be oppressed by Urizen, even if Noah and Adam are generations apart.

However, this is only surface level comparison for Blake. Another thing that makes Adam and Noah contemporaries in their respect is their gender ambiguity.  Where Noah’s descendants all the way to Abraham would be “Female-Males, A Male within a female hid as in an Ark & curtains” (Mil 37:38-40; J 75:13-15). Similarly, Blake thinks Adam originally was of both sexes. Blake argues the sexes were not created until the creation of Eve, therefore Adam was both female and male. This ambiguity of sex relates back to Los that is more about the freedom and creative and free. The singularity of one gender then would not be a free expression, but a restrictive injustice.
-Beyanira Bautista


Blake’s Mythology- Is it in you?

This post responds to the first question, “Why does Blake deviate from the Biblical account in making Adam and Noah contemporaries?” In “The Song of Los,” Blake depicts several scenes of his mythological characters delivering gospel and religion to various important religious figures. This image of Blake’s characters as the root of all common religions reminds us of “All Religions are One,” in which Blake posits that all religions come from the same source, and therefore are no different at their core.

It is also important to note that “All Religions are One” claims that religion comes from the poetic genius, which resides within man. Since he depicts his mythological characters as delivering these religious principles to each of the creators of religion, Blake is saying that each of his mythological characters actually resides within these religious leaders, and it is the work of each character that influences each religious leader’s doctrine. For example, Theotormon—the representation of desire that becomes jealousy when repressed—delivers the gospel to Jesus. The decision to have Theotorman deliver Christianity was a conscious one, as Blake is making a comment on the sexual repression perpetuated by the Christian leaders of his time.

The decision to have Urizen deliver his “Laws” to both Noah and Adam together (as contemporaries) was also a conscious one (109). As Urizen delivers the laws to both men, we can assume that both men are crippled by mankind’s reason. Blake undermines the Bible by pointing out the utter uselessness of time—to Blake, Noah and Adam may as well be the same person, as they are crippled by the same thing—man’s logical reason, represented by Urizen’s laws.

The Perpetual Fall

In locating his allegorical universe (at least temporarily) in Africa for The Song of Los, Blake’s goal is to emphasize beginnings: the beginning of humanity, the beginning of slavery, the beginning of religion, and the beginning of the empty moral systems and laws that he abhors. He not only makes Adam and Noah contemporaries but also adds Moses, Abram (Abraham), and figures of Eastern religion to the cast of characters. The first four, of course, are Biblical characters whose individual histories are told in the book of Genesis, which means “beginnings.” Adam’s story is that of the Fall, but Blake reminds us that simply because Noah lived many years after Adam does not mean that the two figures’ tales are unrelated.

For the Flood is the symbol of another quasi-Fall, in which nearly the entire world is destroyed because of its sinfulness. Given this event’s proximity to original Creation in the Bible, we should be struck by how quickly humanity incurred the wrath of God. There is salvation for the righteous Noah and his family, but the emergence of the curse of Ham quickly associates sin even with Noah and his descendants – and thus the entire human race. If we consider that, according to Genesis, we are all descended from Noah, then we can conclude that all sin stems not from Adam, but from Noah.

Certainly this line of thinking would have been exploited by supporters of slavery, who twisted Biblical accounts of Ham and Noah to justify the exploitation of Africans but conveniently neglected their faith’s declaration that all men are sinners, perhaps insisting that Noah’s other lines maintained righteousness. Blake’s point is to direct his readers to the discrepancies in this point of view and to remind us that, according to both Adams’s and Noah’s stories, every man is fallen and must rely on God for salvation.

For Blake is working on a both a micro- and a macro- level in this poem. He zooms in to Africa to demonstrate how misinterpretation of the Bible or of God has led to horrors and corruption there, but connects the events on that continent to those in other locations – in the “garden of Eden,” “the mountains of Ararat,” “in the East,” and so on (101). In other words, he argues, the Fall is universal: it has occurred and is occurring everywhere, regardless of one’s religion or race. Time is not relevant in the context of sin and its consequent exploitation, and thus time cannot be a factor for those of us, like Blake, who seek to bring about the revolution that will ultimately end those actions and systems that constitute such corruption.