Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vernal Equinox, 2013

To Spring

by William Blake

O THOU with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

Unlike “To Autumn” and “To Winter,” this poem speaks of a community, describing England as “our western isle” and “our clime.” Twice, the speaker ends a deeply-enjambed line with “turn” (or “turn’d”), and each instance makes readers “turn” their eyes to the next line in unison with the “angel eyes” of Spring and with the “longing eyes” of the community.
The very form of the poem, then, urges the reader to participate in this community: emerging from the cold of winter, the very land “mourns” for the touch of Spring, and this poem powerfully invokes it to appear erotically and quicken nature itself (and the community) back into life.

The tradition of troping the return of life in the spring as sexual is quite old, going back well before the famous opening lines of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. But here, Blake takes that convention and figures the season not as a male force – whose rain penetrates the land, as in Chaucer – but as female, imploring it to approach and embrace the land as another female with “modest tresses.” It would appear as if the entire community has been subsumed into a lesbian relationship that encompasses the natural world.
Importantly, the emphasis here is not on fertility – as it would be if Spring were gendered as male, impregnating the earth – but on the return of love, a fulfilling relationship of engagement with reality.

We might, if we were to read this poem through the lens of Thelema, see the invocation of Spring as a powerful invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel – the True Self of each individual – who descends to rescue the maiden of Malkuth (Heh final of the Tetragrammaton) who is each of us.
As life returns to the world, let us each focus on invoking our own HGA – that is to say, living from the depth of our actual selves. Recall that “conversation” – in the sense of “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” – originally meant a way of life (conversatio), particularly a monastic one. “Knowledge,” of course, could also designate sexual intercourse.

“Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel,” then, is a fancy way of saying that an individual should intimately identify with his or her True Self, making it a “way of life” to live from that depth.
Happy Spring.