The ALPS are inhabited by the Swiss, long known as champions of “the Mountain Nymph, sweet Liberty.” Rousseau and Voltaire, heralds of the French Revolution, established residences there. The clouds of the impending Revolution “roll heavy upon the Alps round Rousseau & Voltaire” (SoL 4:18). “Orc, raging in European darkness, arose like a pillar of fire above the Alps” (SoL 7:26). Various mountains, including the Alps, listen to Los’s watch-song (J 85:16).
AMALEK, grandson of Esau, was the eponym of the Amalekites, the southernmost of the heathen nations surrounding Palestine. The Amalekites attacked the Israelites on their way from Goshen, and were smitten successively by Joshua, Gideon, Saul, and David. Blake used the Amalekite females to symbolize the sexual temptations which the outlandish women offered to the sons of Israel. They are daughters of Tirzah; “their various divisions are call’d the daughters of Amalek, Canaan & Moab” (FZ viii:294; cf. J 82:24). Blake often refers to this triad (Mil 24:14; J 29:31; 80:50; 82:24; 83:16; 86:28), which presumably represents the loins (Amalek being South), heart, and head. The Amalekite women are named for the daughters of Zelophehad, and their song (which is also the song of Tirzah) describes their torture of the males (FZ viii: 297–321; expanded in J 67:44–68:9). Los and Enitharmon escape from this triad (J 29:31). When the Hermaphrodite tempts the undergraduate Milton, he says: “The beautiful Amalekites behold the fires of youth bound with the Chain of Jealousy by Los & Enitharmon” (Mil 19:37). Los says that the infant Joseph “was sold to the Amalekite who carried him down into Egypt” (Mil 24:19). Amalek is one of the countries which receive Jerusalem’s little ones for sacrifices and the delights of cruelty (J 5:14). Los “woos” to Amalek to protect his fugitives, and Amalek trembles ( J 83:16). Reuben enroots “beneath the shining Looms of Albion’s daughters in Philistea by the side of Amalek” (J 74:45). The Lamb of God stands before Satan “upon the heights of Amalek” (FZ viii:270). Amalek also seems to be one of a quaternary. Los sees “the Amalekite, the Canaanite, the Moabite, the Egyptian” outside of Golgonooza (J 13:58); later he says that these same four are “by Demonstrations the cruel Sons of Quality & Negation” (J 43:67). AMAZONIA was a name sometimes given to the valley of the Amazon River. It is the thirty-first of the Thirty-two Nations which shall protect liberty and govern the rest of the world (J 72:42).
AMERICA is the continent of the West, and as such represents the Body and its five senses, especially sex. Just as the Body is now cut off from the rest of the individual by its material form, so America is cut off from the other three continents by the ocean (matter). Historically, America, the birthplace of Orc (Revolution), represents Liberty, especially the liberty of the Body. In the cycle of continents, it is preceded by Africa (slavery) and is followed by Europe and Asia (counterrevolution). It is to this land of the West that the sex-starved youths and maidens of “Ah! Sun-Flower” (SoE) aspire. The Daughters of Albion sigh towards America; and Oothoon seeks for the soft soul of America. But her flight thither is interrupted by Bromion, who claims her soft American plains (VDA 1:2, 3, 20). The outbreak of the American Revolution is symbolized in “A Song of Liberty” (MHH). The ominous pause beforehand is felt in England, America, France, and Spain. Orc is born, and confronts Urizen on the Atlantean mountains. Urizen hurls him into the western sea, only to suffer a Satanic fall himself. He promulgates the Ten Commandments, eyeing in dismay Orc, who is destroying curses, law, empire, and sexual repression. The subsequent separation of the two countries is political as well as spiritual. “Albion clos’d the Western Gate, & shut America out by the Atlantic, for a curse, and hidden horror, and an altar of victims to Sin and Repentance” (FZ iii:105). This is also the attitude of Enitharmon, as reported by the mendacious Gwendolen: “But hide America, for a Curse, an Altar of Victims, & a Holy Place,” from which Jerusalem is to be cut off (J 82:29–34). And America is “clos’d out by the Oaks of the western shore” (J 43:6)—the oaks being druidic, and possibly referring by an extension of meaning to the British Navy and the blockade of the War of 1812. Erin unaccountably orders: “Build & prepare a Wall & Curtain for America’s shore!” (J 49:49). But underneath the hostility, the basic feeling is love, even envy, of America, and sorrow for the separation. Rintrah and Palamabron see hope in Orc’s blood and fire on America’s shore ( Mil 23:6). When Oothoon descends into Beulah, England weeps, and trembles towards America (Mil 31:14). Los laments that America is closed apart (J 43:69); indeed, the two Americas are his baths of living waters (J 58:43). Erin bids Sihon and Og to move back to their own lands and leave the secret coverts of Albion and the hidden places of America ( J 49:1). Sabrina and Mehetabel shine west over America (J 71:45). Jerusalem laments that she no longer sees America, and remembers its golden mountains (J 79:53). Los plans to hide the Tribes of Llewellyn there (J 83:59), perhaps from the aggressions of Edward I. The remaining references to America simply include it as an essential part of the world. Albion trembles in all lands, including “Great America” (Mil 14:7). The Loom of Death operates to all four quarters, including “America North & South” (Mil 35:17). All countries center in London and Golgonooza, including America (J 72:31). See VIPER. AMERICA, A PROPHECY. Lambeth, printed by William Blake in the Year 1793, was the first of Blake’s books to name a place in the imprint. To publish where he lived on the title page of so controversial a book, with his name in full for the first time, was an act of defiant courage in 1793, when the counter-revolution was building up, and the government (on May 21) had passed its act against “divers wicked and seditious writings” (Erd 197). “I say I shan’t live five years, And if I live one it will be a Wonder. June 1793,” Blake jotted in his notebook ( K 187). Five years later he was to write: “To defend the Bible in this year 1798 would cost a man his life. The Beast & the Whore rule without control” (On Watson, K 383). He worked hard to make this book perfect. He engraved four plates, then discarded them. One of them had actually named George III, yet in his final text “the King of England” was obviously that unfortunate monarch. On the second plate of the final text, he eliminated four lines which merely reflected his own personal reactions of rage and shame at the situation. For the first time, he designated one of his books as “a prophecy.” He was no longer attempting to dramatize history, as in The French Revolution; instead, he was recording the formula of all revolution, utilizing the American material without regard for chronology. He concentrated particularly on the dramatic events in Boston, Massachusetts, beginning just after the Boston Massacre of 1770 (“the coast glowing with blood from Albion’s fiery Prince,” Am 3:5). See BOSTON. The American patriots convene; Washington warns them of the increasing tyranny; “Albion’s wrathful Prince” threatens them with war (“a dragon form”); whereupon Orc appears and a voice (Paine’s?) proclaims the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (6:1–11; see Erd 23). Albion’s Angel accuses Orc of being the Dragon of Revelation (see WOMAN IN THE WILDERNESS); Orc replies that he is the Serpent in Paradise (the Messiah, who tempts man to break the prohibitions—see ORC), proclaiming the holiness of all life and the destruction of the Ten Commandments. The Angel bids the war-trumpets sound, but the thirteen colonies remain silent and refuse the loud alarm. Instead, they meet and renounce their allegiance. The thirteen royal governors and their troops are terrified. Then the Angel sheds diseases on America, thereby enraging its inhabitants; but the diseases recoil dreadfully on the British Isles. Finally the leprous Urizen is manifested. He manages to conceal Orc from European eyes “till Angels & weak men twelve years should govern o’er the strong; and then their end should come, when France reciev’d the Demon’s light” (16:14). France, Spain, and Italy in terror strive to shut “the five gates of their law-built heaven” (16:19), but the fires of Orc consume the gates. Thus the poem closes, foretelling the worldwide spread of the American idea. Ingeniously digging out the historical material embedded in the poem, Erdman has demonstrated that Blake utilized it without regard for chronology. Washington’s opening speech, however, occurs at a non-historical meeting, which Joel Barlow invented for his Vision of Columbus (1787), though he placed it immediately after the battle of Bunker Hill. The meeting of the governors at Bernard’s house was also non-historical, as Bernard had been recalled in 1769. The voice which proclaims the principles of the Declaration of Independence (probably Paine) precedes the actual Declaration by some eighty lines. The naval bombardments and burning of towns (4:3; 12:10) precede the command to fire (14:3). The king with “aged limbs” was really only thirty-seven. The various surrenders of British arms are compressed into a single act of terror (13:6). Such events as Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Saratoga, and Yorktown are not specified. Blake continued his tale in Europe; then, to make the cycle of continents complete, he wrote “Africa” and “Asia,” giving a general title for all four: The Song of Los. “Africa,” the continent of slavery, ends with the first line of America, the continent of revolution and liberty. “Asia” continues the tale of Europe. The “Preludium” of America gives a fragment of the myth of Orc: his reaching the age of potency, breaking his fetters, and embracing the Shadowy Female. This “Preludium” is continued in the “Preludium” of Europe. America is, pictorially, the most brilliant of Blake’s books. It glows with the colors of sunrise. “Turning over the leaves,” wrote Gilchrist (I, 309), “it is sometimes like an increase of light on the retina, so fair and open is the effect of particular pages.” But the Revolution is not all the glory which the text implies. Orc, though spiritual in origin and essential to man’s progress, operates in the material world by material means. The pictures trace, subtly at first, the degeneration of the revolutionary ideals. While Orc is still chained under the Tree of Mystery, his sullen imagination crouches, on the level of the Worm, beneath the tree’s roots, which vegetate above him in the shape of a copulating couple (Plate 1). He bursts up through the ground in a sunrise (Plate 2). Then, on the first page (Plate 3) of “A Prophecy”—the letters expand into ears of wheat, but are also involved with the ivy-vine of experience—a man soars upward with broken fetters, while below himAlbion’s Angel blows flames from his war-trumpet, causing a family to flee from its burning home. On the next page (Plate 4) a griffin pursues Urizen, with his books of law and sceptre of dominion, to his downfall; below, men cower among the fallen trunks of the forest of error. The griffin, who must signify War, does not resemble Blake’s other war-dragons, but was probably inspired by the griffin on the masthead of the Massachusetts Spy; Paul Revere, the engraver, confronted it with Franklin’s snake “Join, or Die.” A Last Judgment (Plate 5) and a Resurrection (Plate 6) follow; but below the rejuvenated man are evil signs: a thistle; a lizard catching a fly; a toad facing a rampant adder. Innocence sleeps by a ram, the protector of the flock, in a sunrise (Plate 7), but the next plate reveals Urizen on high, still dominant. The last five plates are all pessimistic. An old man enters his tomb; Oothoon is torn by an eagle, while a drowned man is devoured by fish; Rahab beneath the sterile Tree preaches materialism to a youth; females, cowering in the intoxicating flames of lust, vegetate; and finally, prostrate Nature prays on the verge of an abyss; behind her is a small forest of vegetated forms; and the colophon entwines thorny plants and snakes. The high ideals of the Revolution have failed.
AMMON was a hostile kingdom east of the Jordan, bounded on the south by Moab (from which it was separated by the Arnon), on the west by Sihon, on the north by Og (from which it was separated by the Jabbok), and on the east by wilderness. It was subdued with great slaughter by Jephthah and finally conquered by David. Molech was worshipped there (Mil 37:21). Naamah the Ammonite, a wife of Solomon and the mother of Rehoboam, appears in the “Maternal Line” as an ancestor of Mary (J 62:12). Ammon and five other hostile kingdoms receive Jerusalem’s little ones for sacrifice (J 5:14). With two others, it is included in Jerusalem’s reins (J 86:28). Satan’s bosom reflects Moab and Ammon on the Arnon (J 89:24). Ammon, as one of the seven hostile kingdoms surrounding Jerusalem, finally exists only in the memory and in possibility (J 92:23).
AMSTERDAM. The voice of the wandering Reuben echoes in all the cities of the nations, including Amsterdam (J 84:14).
ANAK was the son of Arba, founder of the city Kirjath-Arba, or Hebron. The Anakim were giants of terrifying size, whom Joshua conquered and virtually annihilated (Josh xi:21–22). Hebron was assigned to Caleb, who expelled from there Anak’s three sons, Sheshui, Ahiman, and Talmon ( Josh xv:13–14). Anak, Og, Sihon, and Satan constitute an evil quaternary (FZ i:507; Mil 22:33), whose function is to oppose Man’s progress towards Eternity. Anak is particularly paired with Og. These two dwell beyond the skies with Chaos and Night, in the seat of Satan; they are set there to prevent Man from passing through the gates in brain and heart and loins, which open into Golgonooza (Mil 20:33–40); these are the doors of eternity (Mil 31:49). These two “Giants of Albion” were placed there by Jehovah (J 49:56). They are also responsible for the looms, mills, prisons, and workhouses which prevent Man from leading a spiritual life (J 13:57). Luvah erroneously calls Satan, Og, Sihon, and the Anakim the sons of Jerusalem (FZ i:507). The two Sons of Los fear that Milton will loose the quaternary on Albion (Mil 22:33). The four Sons of Los peruse Albion’s tomb in the starry characters of Og and Anak [query: Sihon?] ( J 73:16). In the Stomach of the Covering Cherub are seen the forces hostile to Israel, including Sihon, Og, and the Anakim (J 89:47).
ANANA was Ariston’s stolen bride. “Ariston ran forth with bright Anana” ( FZ frag. incipit “Beneath the veil,” 6).
ANANTON is mentioned once, as the sixth in the list of the Sons of Los and Enitharmon (FZ viii:358). Enanto, the sixth of the Daughters (FZ viii:364), whose name closely resembles his, is his Emanation. ANGEL is the G