Tag Archive: Blake


Bittersweet

Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

Humberto Garcia

English 190

May 1, 2018

From the Sciences to the Arts:

Timeless English Literature

 

Coming into my freshman year here at UC Merced I had a plan already set in stone; I was going to study human biology and obtain some sort of medical internship during my time here which would help carve my path towards a successful journey into medical school. Originally my career goal was to become an OBGYN to help expectant mothers through a safe and healthy pregnancy. However, after miserably failing the general ed. classes¾including biology, I realized that I was simply interested in medicine because of the salary and not because I felt a genuine passion for the study of medicine. I wandered around different fields trying to scope out what other majors had to offer course and career wise. Afterwards, I was introduced to journalism and was instantly drawn to it because I had always enjoyed writing throughout my life, as well as having advanced skills in writing. Unfortunately, UC Merced does not offer any type of journalism program so I decided to stick with English as my major along with professional writing as my minor. Initially, I thought majoring in English was going to be a breeze because reading and writing had always been my strongest area throughout grade school. In addition, I believed that my “advancing” writing skills was going to help me easily pass my classes…and here I am a soon to be graduate English major admitting that I was very wrong.

The first English class that I started with was Katie Brokaw’s Literature of Childhood, in which we studied many works of children and adult literature that utilized the idea of childhood

to reveal larger themes of race, gender, etc. At the time, I found it quite difficult to be able to draw these complex themes from such a simple children’s book. I was baffled after hearing other classmates’ close reading and responses which discouraged me of my own interpretation and analysis because I thought it wasn’t “good” or “smart” enough. Afterwards, I never really felt confident enough to participate so I tended to be the person who just listened to everyone else’s inputs. However, after reaching my upper-division courses I knew I had to break out of that fear because my success in the class heavily relied on my participation by further engaging with the literature as well as the discussion in class. One of the classes that really helped break me out of this fear was Dr. Hakala’s Engaging Texts class in which she introduced the many literary theories and criticism that would help me further read and analyze texts in various lenses. Although this was by far one of the most challenging courses I took as an English major, I genuinely felt that paring novels/poems alongside certain critical theories really helped me understand how each theory could be used to read and analyze any work of literature. By the end of the course, my interpretation and analysis grew stronger as I began to gain knowledge behind historical time periods in which a piece of literature was written in. I also developed a keen eye to detail that aided me to read any piece of literature and be able to extract certain themes that helped to reveal universal issues.

As my confidence in my close reading skills became stronger, my writing skills also began to thrive. One of the major difficulties I had towards the beginning of my study in English was being able to craft original arguments for my papers. Although my analysis seemed to get stronger, when it came time to argue that analysis into an original argument I struggled immensely; I always failed to answer the “so what” part of any thesis. What helped me overcome this weakness was not only peer feedback sessions that most of my English professors would

offer prior to a due date of a paper, but also going into office hours to further discuss what exactly I was trying to argue in my paper. However, I also pushed myself to do this on my own by asking myself why my position was worth arguing and why it was important amongst literary scholars and theorists as a whole. One particular course that really helped me develop this particular skill was Humberto Garcia’s Senior Thesis class. Due to the fact that the major assignment in this course was our senior capstone paper (which is currently still in progress), because it is a lengthy paper we really had to carefully develop our position in a precise manner that not only showcased our close reading and analytical skills, but also crafted an original argument engaging us in the conversation amongst other scholars that have written on our specific research subject. Throughout the semester, I was able to collect research articles relevant to my subject of interest (William Blake & The Invisible Woman) and respond to these theorists while adding my own insight or viewpoint.

Overall, developing these skills was NOT an easy process; it took long nights of reading, writing, and mental break downs after feeling like my interpretations were not good enough. However, I came to learn that it is all a learning process and although my knowledge and understanding has widely expanded after the course of four years, I am still and will always continue learning and developing these skills.  I now know that English literature is by far an amazing yet challenging field of study¾one that is timeless through its universal themes. I have completed my bachelors in English Literature with full acknowledgement that I chose the right major for me.

p.s, I no longer have the desire to pursue a career in Journalism. English literature, particularly William Blake fully capitated my academic interests and I now plan to attend graduate school in the near future, with an emphasis in Blake Studies.

 

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. (Blake, 75).

Works Cited

 

 

Lynn Johnson, Mary & Grant E., John. Blake’s Poetry and Designs. W.W. Norton, 2008.

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Self-Love

When observing the images of male-to-male oral sex, what can be assumed is that there is two figures, but another perspective could be that there is something else -something mystical taking place.  In other words, what I took from it is that while we see two figures -men- doing acts to one another it is really supposed to represent the inner and outer being of one person. To be more specific, the figures are really of a man, in the state of Beluah, giving pleasure back to themself, that “self” is the inner feminine in them.  When Ololon asks, “Is this our Feminine Portion, the Six-fold Miltonic Female?” (Plate 49/42, line 30); to me, she is being concrete in her question. The “Feminine Portion” being the feminine within the inner self, thus the outer being the male portion.

Towards the end of the poem, it  eludes to the end of time taking place and that one will soon be facing one’s own doom -more so, Milton facing his own doom.  At this point, he refers to “his shadow,” showing up by his side at the cusp of the self-annihilation taking place. He says, “and my Sweet Shadow of delight stood trembling by my side (plate 50/43, line 28).  This too gives reference to a duality, and again a notion that the “self” is what Milton is actually in constant connection or contact with. After self-annihilation comes a euphoria in a sense; a resurrection occurs of the truest of one’s self and   

In the image this connection is what the illusion of male-to-male oral sex is referring to.

 

-Marcy

 

The two plates below depicting oral sex show oral sex between two unidentified individuals. The first plate shows oral sex as a form of domination. The woman is slumped over, as though unconscious. One hand supports herself on the man’s shoulder. The other is limp. The man pulls her close, entwining his arms around her. She appears helpless while he is bathed in light. 

The second plate not only appears to show two men engaging in oral sex, but two of the same man. That is to say, this is an incidence of auto-fellatio. If the above plate depicts oral sex as a form of domination, then it can be said that this auto-fellatio is a domination of the self. While the dominated woman is clothed, neither of the “selves” depicted below are clothed. They are clothed only in the flames of the sun; they are clothed only in Los. The auto-fellatio is entirely consensual, with the kneeling self turning his head, in full control of his body. The standing self’s hands are free, as though to show that they are not forcing anything upon anybody.

The women below are clothed only in sun and flame as well. They are in harmony with one another. They have cast off all except inspiration. The plate reads,

“TO bathe in the waters of Life: to wash off the Not Human.
I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration,
To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour,
To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration,
To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albion’s covering.
To take off his filthy garments & clothe him with Imagination,
To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration.”

To achieve self annihilation is to wash away reason and rationality, to cast off clothes, and to accept nakedness, sexuality and Los.

Ross Koppel

 

 “Milton will utterly consume us & thee our beloved Father” 

In Milton: Book the Second, Blake finds himself in the garden. Ololon meets Blake and then eventually finds Milton, and we find out that she is Milton’s feminine self. Blake express that Ololon’s position as a virgin is one that puts her in an “annihilable” state. And only by giving up her virginity is she free. Therefore, negation is necessary. This negation to preserve the opposite of Ololon turns out to be Milton. The negation is described as:

a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway

The false body means entrapment and annihilation, and destruction to the immortal. So, to deny negation is to remain unscathed by one’s sexual potential. The ultimate sexual potential at this time would in fact be male-to-male oral sex. In the later line, the need for nudity and for undressing lineaments that are like ‘arks & curtains’.

These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains

The ‘sexual garments’ hide the ‘human lineaments’ as illustrated in the image below, although, the person getting orally satisfied does appear to be wearing a small underwear-like garment. The background appears to be a sun because of the red flames encircling the yellow circle. However, the inside of the sun, where the yellow circle appears also has what appears to resemble many vaginal labias. Perhaps this could be a tie into another sexual organ besides what we assume is the penis, but perhaps the presence of the vagina is also an indication of the birth of this sexual act(the male-to-male oral sex). The person giving the fellatio is on their knees (which isn’t out of the ordinary), but the position in which they have their body facing forward and their head turned around is odd. The way that they are also looking into the other person’s eyes is a bit odd given the awkward position that they are in.

The identity of both of the participants is also ambiguous because the face of on figure isn’t visible since he is looking up. This brings into question the identities of the participants. An idea that came to me is that it could be Milton and Milton. Perhaps the ultimate way to not self annihilate is masturbation, which is sinful in even more ways that just plain male-to-male oral sex. However, I also think masturbation would indicate the ego/self righteousness. Another thought was that it was Ololon the “six fold Miltonic female”, but that would take away the significance of male-on-male oral sex. Another darker thought that arose was that the figures are either Milton and all of his followers, or (bear with me here) Milton and Blake. Given that throughout the first book, Blake is imitating the things he blames Milton of (ie. using women as objects, feeding into his own ego). It also makes sense to me because Blake is the person that Ololon goes to in order to be redirected to Milton. Therefore, Blake is perhaps acting as a link or maybe in more sexual terms: a vagina for Ololon to connect to Milton. Either way, this is extremely progressive for the time, and I had to stop myself from photoshopping Milton and Blake’s heads to this image.

Blake Milton 2

-Beyanira Bautista

In William Blake’s Milton: Book the First, Blake critiques John Milton’s intents in Paradise Lost. Despite, his admiration for Milton, Blake believes that Milton’s idea that relegating revolutionary energy was diabolic. Instead, he thinks that was diabolic was Milton’s “selfhood” or self righteousness, to put in other terms. In Line 8-11 he states:

The Eternal Great Humanity Divine planted his Paradise
And in it caus’d the Spectres of the Dead to take sweet forms
In likeness of himself. Tell also the False Tongue! vegetated
Beneath your land of shadows

Blake is both mockingly (and maybe sincerely?) calling Milton “the eternal great humanity divine”, and interestingly using the adjective ‘to plant’ in reference to Paradise Lost. Maybe who he is calling “the eternal great humanity divine” could also be god because he is describing the planting of eden, or creation. The ‘sweet forms’ that the spectres of the dead link the spiritual world and the physical word if we take ‘sweet forms’ to be something related to fruits(plants). The ghost of the dead then are taking likeness of Milton. Unless he is taking the likeness of the ghost of the dead? It’s interesting that the “False Tongue” is “vegetated” beneath the land of shadows. In this line, Blake again creates connections between the spiritual world (land of shadows) and something that is vegetates (or of the physical world). Los and Emitharmon oppose Milton which causes The Shadowy Female to oppose Milton, in this case the shadows mentioned in this passage could be in connection to this character, and her godliness.
Blake is also pointing out in this passage that the mistake Milton made was make Paradise Lost an endeavor that is self righteous. However, this is ironic because he wrote a work titled Milton, which gives Milton even more reason to be self righteous. Blake also participates in this ‘selfhood’ that is so harmful by writing his own work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
-Beyanira Bautista

Milton martyrs himself as the savior of his people, which is ironic because he doesn’t agree on the ideas of war or any type of heroic characteristic for that matter. However, he’s being forced into the eternal death because God is inactive in the fight against satan; he takes off his robe of promise, that is, of righteousness, relieving himself from the oath of god (162). It’s evident that he does not want to break from god, as he asks “O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come?/Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death” (162).

The situation at hand forces Milton to go down into self annihilation: satan is wreaking havoc in his entrance to earth, as he creates Seven deadly Sins on his infernal scroll (156). He also creates cruel punishments “with thunders of war & trumpets sound, with armies of disease… saying ‘I am God alone'” (156). Note also the sibilance used in lines 23-24, when describing satan’s actions: with thunder of war & trumpets sound, with armies of disease/Punishments & deaths mustered..” (156). This connects to image of satan being a serpent, as it creates a hissing sound. Also, the line is built of multiple multi-sllybalic words and cuts heavily into monosyllabic when satan speaks: “I am God/alone/There is no other!” (156); this creates a more urgent tone, truly making satan appear as powerful as god.

Milton of course realizes all of this and heeds the warning of the urgent tones, sounds, and beats, as he dives into eternal death.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

Brothers in Pen

So far, what we do know of Blake’s beliefs regarding Swedonborg and the Moravian Church in is that Swedonborg is a false proclaimer; that he claims to have realized certain beliefs before others have. “Now hear a plain fact: Swedonborg has not written one new truth:/ Now hear another: he has written all the old falsehoods” (79). Blake essentially claims that Swedonborg has not discovered anything new, but just regurgitated what has already been said. Now the ideals that Thomas Paine seems to have is that the world will never be under one person or one set of rules forever.

“There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or power binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time’, or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it” (24).

In “A Song of Liberty,” Blake makes multiple remarks that ring the same bell as Paine’s belief; that one government/person will never be forever set in stone. “Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers and mutter across the ocean? France rend down thy dungeon” (81). According to the footnotes, the dungeon is the Bastille which was destroyed in 1789, which represented a political change right before the 1790s and represented Blake’s position towards the French Revolution. As if this was not enough, Blake chooses to outright profess his views with “Empire is no more! and now the lion & wolf shall cease” (82).

“Lions, and Tyger’s and Bears.”

 

 

Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion. (1)
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God. (2)
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God. (3)
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. (4)

In the very first line of this poem are metaphors that are quite cunning. As one can see, Blake did not hold back when it came to calling out the hypocrisy of which the state and church contained. Using irony, he shows the backward system of both Law and Religion -law is supposed to step in to prevent the further demise of deviant behavior so as to prevent the further imprisonment of the members of society; while religion is supposed to intervene and prevent the moral decline of its people. Instead, there is a greed filled profit to be made in both circumstances. In the following three lines he does a few things: he mentions emotion; he uses animal symbols; and he uses several key representation of God. Line 2’s Peacock symbol represents immortality -thus saying God’s glory is eternal. Line 3’s Goat represents bountifulness, indicating God will always provide. And, finally, Line 4’s Lion, represents that absolute leadership. One has to question why he would place these lines under the very first one, where he is revealing the greed that exists. The dichotomy in that was probably his goal. We see this throughout the rest of the poem.

 

 

The nakedness of woman is the work of God. (5)
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps. (6)
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man. (8)

In line 5, “the nakedness of the woman” indicates the actual human condition; but it is interesting, and should be noted that Blake chose to use the woman gender to represent such work. Perhaps he wanted to indicate that women are, in fact, the actual creators/carriers of other humans, and in addition, should not be demonized with regard to their connection to Eve. Again, just like line 1, line 5 stands out from lines 6, 7, and 8 where Blake speaks through emotional and physical attributes, and uses irony: “Excess of sorrow laughs/excess of joy weeps.” The three lines that follow imply the truth: that God does see all that occurs in the world; His power is too intense for others to want to recognize; therefore, they hide behind their lies.

 

The fox condemns the trap, not himself. (9)
Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth. (10)
Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep. (11)
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship. (12)

Because Foxes are known for being clever, line 9 could represent the marginalized group of people whom are being set up to fail amongst society. Lines 10 shows a before and after affect: first there is joy, later there is sorry that follows, as with most things in life. Lines 11, and 12 creates the idea that we should live our lives the way that we want, in order to create harmony.

 

The selfish smiling fool, & the sullen frowning fool, shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod.
What is now proved was once only imagin’d.
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit: watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits.
The cistern contains; the fountain overflows.
One thought, fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

 

The line that sums up the point of Blake’s message is that when he says: “Always be ready to speak your mind.” Blake’s use of nature and animals is a device where he wanted to use the most organic constructs to convey his message about truth.  -Marcy Martinez

 

 

 

Natural Genius

Blake creates the idea that experience is not something anybody can gain with just age, that someone who is younger not just in life, but skill could outdo an older, more “experienced” person’s Genius. Blake mentions “The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdom; no clock can measure.” Folly is foolishness; to lack common sense, and according to Blake, it can be measured by a clock. Though Genius could also be considered wisdom and that it cannot be measured because of how once enough people admire your work, it would end up going down in history.

According to Blake’s proverbs, foolishness can be measured by time, which in a sense can mean that there is an end to it. That even though people may remember a certain foolish event, it will never become memorable enough to last throughout time. Taking into consideration Blake’s craftsmen skills and his skills as a writer, he intends this proverb to imply how it depends on one’s natural Genius to make their work immeasurable by time, and to not copy other people’s Genius because that is one’s “folly.”

“The Aftermath”

“The Chimney Sweeper” (Songs of Innocence and Experience)

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘Weep! weep! weep! weep!’
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved; so I said,
‘Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’

And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight!–
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
And the angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm:
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

 

“The Chimney Sweeper” (Songs of Experience)

 

A little black thing among the snow,

Crying ” ‘weep! ‘weep!” in notes of woe!

“Where are thy father and mother? say?”—

“They are both gone up to the church to pray.

“Because I was happy upon the heath,

And smiled among the winter’s snow,

They clothed me in the clothes of death,

And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

“And because I am happy and dance and sing,

They think they have done me no injury,

And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,

Who make up a heaven of our misery.”

 

Both versions of the poem “The Chimney Sweeper” are tragic; except the version from Songs of Innocence, amidst its sadness, tugs at one’s heart because it reveals the hope the narrator -the little boy- has in regards to his terrible circumstance.  In the first stanza we learn that he was sold into labor as a chimney sweeper, and apparently quite young as he indicates he could barely understand what was going to happen to him: “And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘Weep! weep! weep! weep!’”  In the following stanzas, the narrator seems to have taken on a parental role towards the other chimney sweepers, attempting to comfort them as they perhaps are just entering that occupation; while, the narrator is, at this point, already well versed with the job duties.  Some of his words of comfort explain what sort of things they had to endure, such as the shaving of their hair, and/or it could indicate the toll -hair loss- chimney sweeping was taking on them.  He tells the other little boy, “‘Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your head’s bare,You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’”  As the poem continues, the narrator’s voice returns to the reader, conveying wishful thinking, as they indicate that all the tragedy and darkness will once again return to light and hope; unfortunately, it also reveals that such a reality, is in fact not one.  It would only happen when they die, and have gone to heaven.

And, thus death is what is now brought into the picture with the second version of the poem, as in death of hope.  However, the narrator -a little boy’s voice, once again- is responding to another’s voice who has, essentially, asked him where his parents are.  The voice then replies with a bitter response.  The child seems angry and betrayed by his parents whom -as told in the original poem, first stanza- have sold him off as a chimney sweeper.  His anger seems also seems to be also towards God, as he says, “And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,Who make up a heaven of our misery.”  One could infer that, as opposed to the first version of the poem, where the narrator tries to instill a glimmer of hope in the other children’s minds, that a vast amount of time must have passed up to this point.  It seems as though the act of dreaming or wishing or praying is no longer an option.  He has come to accept his doom.  On the other hand, it could also represent the moment in which he was originally sold off; where he too is full of grief, like the “Tom” he tries to comfort in the first poem.

-Marcy Martinez